Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Temper, Temper!

Adam is such a sweet, polite little guy. When he acts out, it is really noticeable and upsetting to me. I am working to find a balance between ignoring the negative behavior and helping him to work through his feelings. He doesn't throw long, drawn out tantrums or anything like that, but I want to help him through this stage and give him alternatives.

Becky Bailey is the author of some excellent books on child behavior. I really respect the loving approaches she recommends and the way that she helps her readers see the world through the eyes of a child. She builds compassion as she gives tips on what to do and points out how similar some of our behaviors as adults are to the negative behaviors in children. How many of you have ever thrown your own sort of tantrum or have pouted about something?

In the article, "How to Handle Temper Tantrums," she writes that the way parents respond is the key. I know not to give in to a child's demands because that encourages more tantrums and have had success ignoring some negative behaviors, but she says doing nothing can allow the tantrums to evolve as the child grows. That really made me stop and think. A child that yells and shouts as a toddler is likely to become an older child that yells hurtful words or an adult that yells cuss words and huffs and puffs all the time. I can't just ignore it. I need to teach him how to handle his frustrations.

She says "Discipline yourself first and your child second." Calm yourself. Become as calm as you want the child to be. Then explain what you see, state the emotions, and the desire. For example, here's what I should have said to Adam earlier today when he kicked the wall because he didn't want to take a nap. "Your hands are in fists and your face is all scrunched up like this (show the expression to them). You seem frustrated. You want to keep playing and it's time to lay down for a nap." Then you end by giving the child "two choices that are both acceptable to you." Like, "You may sleep on the floor or on your bed. Which would you prefer?"

Offering two positive choices works so well. Adam refused to clean up some blocks he dumped on the floor the other day. I couldn't really think of any choices, so I finally said, "Do you want to pick them up with your fingers or your toes?" His posture totally changed as he smiled and exclaimed, "Toes!" He promptly picked up his blocks...with his toes!

What I need to work on is calming myself and remembering to state his feelings for him & empathize with him. I'm so glad I read Becky Bailey's article to remind me of what I need to be doing. View the full article by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

I agree--I'm all about choices! Don't know how many times I've said, "Do you want to clean your room or take a nap?" I love the toes story! :)

Leah said...

Great ideas! :) Cute toes story!

Laura said...

I usually have to offer Colin a very unappealling choice and then he will cooperate! Being a mom is tough!