This morning was my daughters turn to don the horns. The drama began when I did not have her favourite pair of shorts washed and ready to wear in the cupboard. Never mind the three, perfectly good and brand-new, pairs that were completely available for wear.
Now before I tell you HOW, I am going to say that today I WON. And I’d also like to tell you, that I don’t always. But even if I didn’t win today, I would have still felt pleased with myself because I stayed calm and followed the rules of being an ‘in control’ parent (hence I didn’t write this blog yesterday – a different story)
Here are my tips to get a winners edge.
Stay calm. It sounds obvious but it is NOT easy. Kids can push your buttons like nobody’s business. And for some reason, it can be satisfying to yell ‘For goodness sake! Don’t be ridiculous! Just put on the shorts!’ There are two reasons why this satisfaction doesn’t last. A) It doesn’t work (the child isn’t going to suddenly have a change of heart while you’re screaming, and B) It actually makes us even more upset and emotionally engaged in this situation, instead of recognising that shorts are not worth having a heart attack over.
Give information – and don’t hover! There is absolutely no point in trying to reason with a child as to why the preferred shorts are on the clothes line as opposed to in the cupboard. Give a simple explanation, followed by an expectation – and MOVE ON. “They are on the line and will be clean to wear tomorrow. You will need to wear one of the other three pairs in your cupboard” AND WALK AWAY… This shows you have faith they’ll do the right thing (but they don’t always!)
Offer a choice. This is a non-threatening kind of choice – where all roads lead to the same destination (and in this case, getting dressed). Once I had done #2 and there was still no action, I used this as my next point of call. “Would you like me to do your hair before or after I hang out the washing?” As she needed to be dressed before I did her hair, there was a major underlying message in that statement. You need to get dressed.
Describe to praise. Ignoring the dirty looks, I came back up after hanging the washing to find a grumpy girl IN THE SHORTS. While I wanted to jump up and down screaming‘Yeah! In your face!!’ I restrained myself and sensibly described “Oh! Your uniform is on and now I can do your hair. Great choice!”
I do recognise how difficult it can be to keep calm and not be drawn in by the stamping feet, grumpy stares and mumbling under their breath. However, if your ultimate goal is to get out of the house dressed and in a reasonably good mood (which was my objective), it didn’t pay to invest any extra attention into the situation.
Like any storm, it passes. If you can grit your teeth and bare it for the duration of the tantie, without giving in, it shall pass and peace will be restored once again.
Parenting isn’t easy, what works today may not work tomorrow. However, celebrate the wins I say.
Article by Megan Warren from Key to Kids www.keytokids.com.au
Megan Warren is a qualified teacher and mother of two, with over 14 years teaching experience in Australia and the United Kingdom. She has taught children ranging from Prep to Year 7 and has a particular interest in behaviour management. Megan has been recognised for her communication skills through leadership in school behaviour management committees.
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