Monday, November 1, 2010

Preventing Tantrums

Well my dear friends,
Here we are the day AFTER Halloween.  I don't know about you but our household has already experienced some backlash from the whole candy extravaganza and I am pretty well done with the whole thing.
Candy that is.  I love the dress up part (minus the scary) and I like the silly that flows from person to person walking the streets with their wee ones and most of all the amazing community that IS Cedar Street, here in Belfast anyway.  But the overtired candy hungry short shell of a green dinosaur that is now a mess the morning after......him, not so much enjoyment for me to be honest.

So, I got to thinking, what would Maria Montessori do?  First off, does anyone know if they celebrate Halloween in Italy?  It doesn't matter.  I'll continue.  I'm tired of saying these two little letters "NO" that cause a major melt down before they have even left my lips!  Not just in relationship to Halloween of course but in general.  How can two little letters cause such an explosion in the life of a young child?
Well we all know they can and they do, so what's a parent to do?   

Benjamin Franklin coined the phrase, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," in regards to fire prevention. If you've ever experienced a full-fledged tantrum, you see how this advice might apply to tantrums.

What we need is preventative parenting--the art of being able to say "yes" more often while gaining cooperation. Here are a few ideas to get everyone to "yes."

Plan ahead. Think about the times that are most stressful for your child and for you. What circumstances try everyone's patience? Before you start an activity, explain in broad strokes what is expected. Off to see a friend, and last time there was a ruckus last visit when leaving? State your expectations for behavior before you leave your house. "When we get ready to leave our friend's house, I'll give you a five-minute warning. Will that give you enough time to finish up and be able to leave happy?"

Plan to leave before hunger and tiredness contribute to an inability to control emotions.

Let your children plan with you. Sometimes simply asking, "Help me think of how we can leave our friend's house today happy and with no one losing their temper." Ask questions until you have a plan and perhaps a "secret" signal to use at the friend's house if you need to talk in private.

Practice. Do a little dry run on how to leave a friend's house happily. Let your child role play both the parent and child role as you do a role reversal. (this really only works if your child is at least three years old)

Keep the lines of communication open. Things change, and the best-laid plans go awry. A secret signal can help you and your child move to a quiet place to discuss needs without tempers having to flare. You can use the sign. Your child can use it.

Do what you say.
Some families have the 30-minute goodbye, where everyone says good-bye, gets their coats on and then proceeds to talk by the front door or car for another 30 minutes. For a small child, one might understand why a tantrum might emerge in this situation. When it's time to go, Go. If your child refuses, kindly take him by the hand and go. Be prepared to kindly and calmly carry him to the car. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Help with language. Help your child learn to use language to solve problems. The phrase "Would you be willing to help me come up with a plan to solve this problem?" can help your child learn to see another person's point of view and help you get to yes and cooperation.

With preventative parenting, if a tantrum does occur, you and your child will have some planning, practice and problem solving skills to help put out the fire.

(this advice was given to me from a dear friend; I share it with you because I know it helps and I know how you feel :)

PS: Visit this link for interesting ideas about Halloween and Candy: Simply Montessori

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