Do you ever feel like you are in the middle of the game show “Let’s Make a Deal” when you are “dealing” with your children? It can be easy to catch yourself falling into this pattern. It seems to be human nature sometimes. I am here to tell you that it needs to end today, especially if you are raising a strong willed toddler or child.
“I don’t negotiate with kids,” is a mantra that resonates throughout my vocabulary and through my mind during the day. I have found that one of the best keys to stopping tantrums in their tracks is for your child to know what is expected. Once you have told them not to do something that should be the end of it right? Well, that is the goal you are after, but it takes some time and practice to get there. Am I saying we are there? NO! Am I saying that it is getting better? YES!
Here’s How the “I don’t make deals with kids” concept works:
1. Child does something wrong and you let them know clearly that “we don’t do ____ because ____, next time ____ (insert your consequence here.. tricky.. because all kids respond differently to different consequences).”
Ex: “We don’t jump on the red stool because you could fall and get hurt. Next time you jump on the red stool you will go to time out.”
Tip: Make sure you maintain direct eye contact with your child throughout the entire statement and keep your voice firm but calm. If they look away, start over again once you have their eyes. Keep the statement as simple and short as possible. This is not the time to have a full length discussion on the matter especially if you have a toddler. I also expect to hear a “Yes Ma’am” from him when I am finished as a confirmation that he heard me (we live in the south).
2. If the child does the behavior again, you IMMEDIATELY follow through with the consequence you told them would happen. You do not warn them, beg with or plead. You simple get up, ask them to come with you, and follow through. If you are met with crying or screaming you just keep up with following through and repeat “You didn’t do ___ so now ____ is happening.” Again, remain calm and keep a consistent tone of voice.
3. Once the consequence is over make sure they understand why it happened and of course, that you love them!
Will this magically end all tantrums, back talking, and rude behavior.. no. Is it going to fix things forever.. no. But, you are setting the ground work for a child who is going to learn that you are in charge and to hopefully listen the first time more often. This is going to be ultra important when they are teens and you need to be able to communicate with them but also let them know that there are boundaries.