When you stoop to the maturity level of a five year old…

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    Emily Louange

    Ugh, please tell me you have been there, right? After swearing I wouldn’t allow it again, yesterday I let myself get sucked into another power struggle with my five year old. After several minutes of frustration, I practically through a big tantrum back at her. Again, ugh.

    Always! Something so minor but something so major to these little people!

    The familiar scene plays out…rushed and trying to get out the door… we were going to meet friends at a Halloween parade in the park but we just couldn’t get it together. My daughter was having a fit over every clothing item I required her to put on because she only wanted to wear her beautiful costume in all it’s own glory with nothing over or under it.

    I remember hating putting clothes under and a coat on over my costume as a child. I do NOT remember giving my parents such a hard time until many years later when I was into my teen years. I would not have dared! Gawd, what is going to be like when she is 15?

    I fear our generation of parenting style has over compensated. Back in the ole days, “children were seen and not heard”. Terrible. But now I wonder if we have over compensated? Too much freedom has been granted and allowance of too many choices is coming back to bite us. And bite us hard!

    I have no excuse for throwing an adult tantrum the way I did. But just grasping for some productive thought!

    Devin L.

    Hang in there mama, you’re not alone!

    Shenley S.

    I completely agree that parenting styles have over compensated, especially when it comes to making sure that our children are always happy and feel respected (spoiler alert: this is impossible). When I was a child, there was a lot of “Because I said so” and “Because I’m the parent, that’s why” sentiment. We didn’t argue because my parents made it clear that they didn’t care much about our feelings in the matter. When I parent now, I tend to over explain my reasoning almost to the point of lecturing, which is not any better! There should always be a balance. Yes, I will allow my child to make choices, but I will also teach daily that not everything is negotiable. Choices are great and kids should be able to make them when it’s possible. It helps them feel like they are in control over their environment. But, a few times a day, it might be good to point out certain situations where choice is not possible and use them as teachable moments. Example: Your child tells you they really want waffles for breakfast. You are out of waffles and do not plan to go to the store at 6:00 am in your pajamas, even though in the past this has helped avoid a tantrum. You tell your child, “I’m sorry love, but waffles are not a choice this morning because we are all out.” Once they choose an alternative and you sit down to eat, you might say, “I noticed you felt upset when you couldn’t have waffles, but I really like how you handled your feelings without yelling or throwing a fit. Sometimes it’s hard when we can’t do what we want.” Another idea is to come up with a phrase that you can use to let your kids know something is non-negotiable. Once you’ve already given your reason and your child keeps arguing, responding with “Asked and answered”, “Our discussion is over”, or “I will not answer again” are some examples. The trick with these is that you actually have to end the discussion and not get sucked into further arguing! Another idea is to provide choices options but have them be two things that need to get done anyway. “Do you want to brush your teeth first or put your pajamas on first? Your choice!” or “It’s not an option to go outside without a coat. Would you like me to help you put it on or would you like to do it by yourself?” Once that decision is made, it’s another good time to offer specific praise! Once in the car, you might say, “I understand why you didn’t want to put your coat on, but I’m so glad you did. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really want to do, huh?”

    Emily Louange

    Great advise Shenley! Thanks for your input!

    I think I often say “no” out of reflex. Then she asks again and I sometimes will think “why not, what’s the big deal?” and change my answer to “yes”.

    I know changing my answer probably perpetuates the problem because she thinks she just has to keep asking, begging, whining and then she will get what she wants.

    Your suggestion about more consistently using a phrase like “that was my final answer” or something is something I will try!

    Kim B.

    Great advice, Shenley! I’m currently working for a family with two girls (7 & 9), and they have been exhibiting some “testing” behavior lately (the holiday season can be tough and stressful for children, as well!). I tried your advice out when they were arguing about doing their piano practice, and it didn’t go quite like I imagined it would…

    They were trying to negotiate to do their piano practice after they went ice skating, and they know the rule is that they have to do their “required activities” before their “fun activities”. Even though they know the rule, they were still trying to talk me into a negotiation. J9 said “But why can’t we just do it our way JUST ONCE???”. I responded “Asked and answered”, and she said “We don’t say “Asked and answered” in our house”. I said “Well, I do, and that’s my final response. We won’t be discussing this further”.

    It’s been a while since I’ve worked with older children, and they seem to enjoy studying me to figure out my triggers. They’re very smart girls and very observant, and they’re going through a bit of a stressful time in their lives and I feel like they are taking their frustrations out on me 🙁 Sometimes, when I can feel that I’m being triggered, I have to let them know that I need a break and that I’m going to leave the room for a while. Is this ok? Is there a better way for me to respond? I don’t want them to feel like I’m abandoning them, and I certainly don’t want them to feel like they’ve “won” when I have to step back from the conversation.

    Devin L.

    I think it is ok for an adult to say they need a “time out” or “calm down time”. I think it is actually a good thing because it models “awareness”.

    After your “calm down time” you can return and say “thank you for giving me a little time so I could calm myself down to think more clearly.”

    Then if there is an unresolved issue you can say “when you feel ready, I am now ready to finish our conversation”. If there is nothing to talk about you just thank them for understanding you needed a little space.

    As a nanny caring for older children, I would def brief the parents on your tactic as of course children can spin things when they report the incident. lol

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