Positive Parenting: Responding to Children

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ProActive Parenting’s New Way to Respond to Preschoolers to Reduce Tantrums and Power Struggles

Parents say things to their children all day long without really thinking about it, then they wonder, “Where in the world did this behavior come from?” when he throws a tantrum, begins a power struggle or says something offensive.

This article will briefly explore why changing when you respond to a preschooler can help reduce tantrums and power struggles. Here are three examples to show you what I mean.

1. “Stop crying and go to bed, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Most parents say that hoping the words will magically stop the crying and fear. However, those words seem to have the opposite effect, instead of calming things down, things tend to get worse.

2. “We’ll see.” or “Maybe later.”
Let’s be honest here, parents say things like this all day long hoping that by saying “maybe later” their child will forget about the request and Mom won’t have to say “No” and deal with her daughter’s disappointment or anger.

3. “I’ll deal with you when we get home!”
When a parent says this, does it begin the teaching process or does it simply cause a child to fear what’s coming?

Each of those three statements is vastly different, yet they have one thing in common. Each statement is intended to hopefully put the child off until later, stopping any resolution from occurring right here, right now and doing that creates a problem for both parent and preschooler.

When parents don’t address a situation as it’s happening, hoping it will magically go away or be forgotten, the preschooler can easily misinterpret the situation and get frustrated because they think no resolution is coming. That frustration can cause a tantrum or cause the child to think, “Oh her mind isn’t made up yet, so let the negotiations begin” and you have a power struggle on your hands.

Now you can see that when you don’t address things right here, right now, it doesn’t stop tantrums and power struggles, it can actually increase them. So what’s a parent to do?

The solution is: parents need to dive into the emotions versus trying to put the child off until later hoping it will all go away.

Let’s go back and look at the situations this piece began with.

1. “Stop crying and go to bed, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The solution requires a parent to address the fear head on and ask, “what makes you scared and what can we do to stop it?” THEN, parents need to be very quiet and let the child talk; helping her with suggestions only if she has none. This begins showing her a valuable life long lesson. It shows her she can find the solutions to her problems all by herself, or with a little help. One of my children discovered he needed a flashlight and a branch cut down that looked like “the claw”, my other child figured out he needed company to make his mind quiet, so he choose music to lull him to sleep.

2. “We’ll see.” or “Maybe later.”
Not addressing a request is the perfect set up for “Let the negotiations begin!” and no parent wants that! To solve this, simply tell the truth and say “No.” This does three things. It stops negotiations, teaches him that No means No, and allows him how to learn how to live with disappointment.

3. “I’ll deal with you when we get home!”
Dealing with a situation right here, right now does NOT mean you have to correct your child in front of others. Calmly take her somewhere else to address the situation.

Two others things could occur if you wait until you get home to correct her behavior.

a. By the time you get home she may have forgotten what happened and create a huge power
struggle as you attempt to re-address the situation and send her off to timeout.

b. If you lecture her all the way home, so she doesn’t forget what happened and you threaten
to punish her as soon as you walk in the door, she may become so filled with fear that she
melts into a tantrum the minute you walk in the door.

These three topics are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preschool behavior. Give these brief solutions a try and see for yourself how they can reduce some of the tantrums and power struggles preschoolers have.

Sharon Silver is the founder and director of ProActive Parenting, an on-line and in-person parenting company offering On-Demand Seminars to listen to from the comfort of your home. To learn more about the solutions like these and so much more go to www.proactiveparenting.net