And you hear words coming out of your mouth that you swore you would never say, and you immediately regret it!
As a parent, it’s difficult to remove yourself from a situation and act cool, calm and collected when your 3 year old is losing his ‘cool’ over the fact you cut his toast into four pieces not two, because for crying out loud, you missed the memo that at 3 years of age ‘he’s a big boy now’. Palm face…..more coffee please…..WHAT its only 7:30 am!
Tantrums, attention seeking behaviour, fighting, hitting, yelling, biting, can all be challenging to see as a parent and you immediately feel a sense of guilt that you thought, my child would never be that child. Especially when you’re centre stage in the middle of the shopping centre and everyone is giving you the ’glad that’s not my child’ stare.
I find during these times you have to try to ‘keep your cool’, because there’s no greater spectacle than an angry mum or dad going off in the shopping centre. It is in these moments I need to talk to my child about why he can’t get what he wants, that we have some at home and that we need to stand up and move on. More often or not this is for the benefit of the ease dropping, eye glaring bystanders who have found our little spectacle quite the show.
In this moment it is a good opportunity to practise ‘keeping my cool’ and demonstrating that I can in fact follow through with talking calmly to my child and explaining the situation. Using phrases such as ‘I understand you're angry or upset’, ‘we have one of those at home’, or using this as an opportunity to redirect by saying something like ‘I can’t wait to tell Daddy what great helping you did getting the apples from the supermarket, how many did we get? 200?’
By using a redirection tactic, and saying something completely off topic, it almost always reengages him and he will often try to find the bag of apples to recount how many we got, explaining ‘silly mummy there’s only 5’, but in the meantime our show stopping spectacle of a scene is a mere distant memory…..(that’s right people, shows over….move it along….this cool, calm and collected mummy has got this, well for the moment anyway).
Then this is always a good opportunity to praise your child… ‘Thanks for counting those apples, I can’t wait to tell Daddy about your great helping today’. This is not the opportunity to chat about the tantrum.
For most children, bringing up past behaviour and tantrums serves no benefit and can often make the child feel sad and upset. Try to always focus on the desired behaviours and be on top of those. Praise what you want them to be doing and ignore where possible the negative, attention seeking behaviours, don’t bring then back up, however hurt or angry you may be…don’t be afraid to move on and start over, clean slate.
If you spend majority of your time praising desired behaviours, then as a parent you feel pretty good. Alternatively if you keep yelling or snapping at every given moment, then you will find yourself feeling stressed, upset and angry, making it so much harder to give your child the positive attention they need.
Remember to be in the moment with your children, positively praise and build them up so that they feel loved, supported and valued. This goes for all children. As a Teacher, I use this basis to ensure that my students come to school and feel this same sense of love and support and that they are extremely important. Doesn’t every child deserve this?
Belinda is a Special Education Teacher and mother of two young children who is passionate about assisting families with children’s challenging behaviours. She has over 10 years’ experience working with a range of children across all ability levels, including children with ASD, developmental delay and intellectual disability. She is also a University Lecturer. Belinda provides a calm and supportive process to working with families to make positive change with the children in their lives. Her vision is to assist families to regain precious moments with their children, she provides a gentle approach to developing strategies with families to work with their child at home, at school and in the community. Through The Resource Kit, Belinda provides consultancy to families and teachers on how to work positively with all children. She also provides support for families through the toilet training process.