HAVE YOU EVER FOUND YOURSELF UNDER YOUR CHILD’S THUMB? HOW TO REACT TO HIS MISBEHAVIOUR
The Tyrant child
With great certainty I can say that children who are allowed everything by their parents tend to develop aggressive behaviour. With ever increasing frequency one comes across more examples. Moreover “tyrants” now tend to occur at younger and younger ages. It is the result of children who get used to getting absolutely anything from their parents, those who are impatient with refusals and demand constant attention. How does a child turn into a tyrant anyway? A child’s life environment is full of entitlements but excludes any responsibilities. Obviously, genetics can determines some of the temperament of every individual. However, its expression and development is the result of the environment in which we grow up and get our education.
There is a way
Undoubtedly there is an adequate solution available when a child shows evidence of becoming a tyrant. Before the problem grows into massive proportions it is necessary to examine mechanisms for regulating your child’s behaviour and use this for your own benefit. Almost any behaviour pattern can be modified by means of training. Thus the parents’ task is to equip the child with rules that replace bad habits. Children are not born with an innate understanding of what is good and what’s not – teaching them this is the parents’ job.
No means no!
Rules contain bans necessary for abidance. When the word “No” comes into effect child must learn to give up some of his desires and the idea that anything wanted is allowed. Children will start to manage their anxiety and aggression. It is possible that restrictions and the implementation of rule can cause conflicts. The child resists because he feels he’s losing some benefits. Indeed it will be more convenient if “father bathes me or mother collects toys”. As a result of restrictions the child learns to understand that rules help to organize life. Besides, children realize that respect has an important role for coexistence. When there are well defined and fair rules it is easier for a child to adapt in school, the swimming pool, excursions or just a trip on a bus since he’s able to apply this knowledge in different life scenarios.
“My child will stop loving me…”
Absence of bans conflicts with healthy upbringing. Rules nurture your child’s development and behaviour. Many parents are not consistent when applying rules because they fear that their child will cease value them. Far from it. When parents are fair and honest with their child he will feel confident and secure. It is crucial for the child to feel cared for to have happy childhood. Democratic and collectivistic methods of upbringing allowing for some authoritarianism with some planned indulgencies will make it possible for your child to accept you as the just leader. Thus it’s important to keep your ear open to your little members of family and their problems.
Mistakes and punishment
You must be prepared for mistakes. It is essential to express your opinion regarding his behaviour, e.g. “I like when you say “please” or “I get angry when you scream”. Exercise patience and participate in the educational process. Don’t forget to accustom your child to family duties. As a general rule, one needs to understand that children tend to repeat things that bring good results and give up things that don’t serve their goals. That is key for changing their behaviour. If we want children’s good habits to be preserved we should constantly encourage and praise them and misbehaviour should be followed by punishment.
It’s crucial to mention two concepts regarding the application of these methods:
It is vital for parents and carers to be in full agreement in all upbringing-related subjects. Inconsistency can make things difficult and will act not in our favour. If there is inconsistency the child will feel uncertain which opinion he should hold to and eventually he will start to play one parent off against the other.
Children are unable to remember all the rules of correct behaviour in one day. If we reprimand him for something that we ignore at another time then this will be confusing and your behaviour won’t bring any positive results. We must react identically in situations we’re not happy about. Initially your child may react adversely. Eventually his behaviour will change when he realize that his unacceptable won’t lead him to his desired goal.
Saul is 3 years old and he constantly expresses his negative attitude in temper tantrums. At this age he’s unable to explain in words what is happening to him. That’s why he gets hysterical to signal he disagrees, is upset or tired. When parents don’t give in when he is acting up, without hesitation he falls on a chair and starts banging with his legs and shouts. This time it was the switched off TV – because it was time for a dinner – that caused hysterics.
What can be done?
-Ignore his behaviour and continue setting up table.
-In the first person tell him what you feel: “I am angry with you”
-Use short commands, e.g. “stop it”
-Calmly explain to him that you won’t fall for his whims: “I won’t turn the TV on. It’s time to have a dinner”
-Add in a strict voice: “I won’t pay attention to you till you get up and stop shouting”
-Leave for 2-3 minutes for him to ponder over situation.
A. If he didn’t stop acting up repeat 3 first steps leaving more time for him to think over.
B. Say: “Brilliant! I like that you’re so calm and quite. Let’s go to eat now.”
Keep in mind: Don’t use this method if hysterics can make child act dangerously.
Rocio Gimenez, child psychologist.