Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cooperation Bootcamp Part III :: A Few Tactics

1. What do we do when we don't get our way? Say "OK" and walk away!

Bea's main behavioral issue is responding with anger when she doesn't get her way. She is four years old, so her mouth never, ever stops. I get about 5,000 question hurdled at me every hour. At least. And a lot of those are outrageous requests. She wants to take the orange juice in the bath, for example. Or take the sofa cushions in the backyard to make a boat in the garden. Stuff like that. And she gets really mad, like screaming and turning red mad when I say no. 

So this tactic included a little incentive the first few days. We don't have to use the incentive very much now, but I always keep some goldfish on hand just in case. When I say no, she says "ok" and she walks away. I made up the sing-songy rhyme above and made a game of it. By the second day, she got the idea. (The great thing about 4 year olds is that they really do have something else to walk away to at any given moment.)

2. Control yourself and try again.

The kids have this terrible way of screaming what they want instead of asking politely. They'll scream it over and over waiting to get whatever it is they want. Do all kids go through this? Where do they get it? Not from their parents.

Anyway, I don't respond to screamed or yelled demands. I respond to polite, reasonable requests. So when they do the yelling thing, I quietly say, "Control yourself and try again." And they do.

3. The next tactic is turning around a negative situation by using humour. This is my number one, go-to tactic. I think my main talent in this life is making children laugh. Mine especially. I can make them go from crying in anger and frustration to tears of excited joy in seconds. I love it! This only works if it is done respectfully. I don't want my kids to feel mocked when they are down! After all, I'm on their team!

*helpful hint if you try this at home: know where they keep their tickles.* 

4. Listen.

9 times out of 10 when my kids are fighting or tantrum-ing, it is because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. The easiest way to solve it is to get down there at eye level and get them to talk through it, be an active listener, repeat it back. Then I explain to them or show them how to solve the issue. 

4. Safe places.

Bea and Am each have places they hide on our house (and yard when we're outside) when they need a quick escape. I like to encourage this. If they didn't run off and cool down, I'd have to put them in "time out" or a "naughty chair" as Supernanny says. I prefer a self-imposed get-away to a safe place. They'll rejoin the group when they are ready to participate. Of course, if I can tell there are issues we need to discuss, I go to them. But I do not disrespect the sanctity of their safe place. I talk to them from a reasonable distance. (If this feels too new-agey or politically correct, don't use it. But it works for us. So.)

5. Picking Battles.

This means that I have to really examine myself and see if what I am expecting or requiring is necessary. Sometimes, I have to just be real with myself and check my expectations at the door baby gate. I read a helpful blog post about dividing your activities between stuff you can reasonably do when the kids are up and stuff you have to save for naps. When I actually do this, things go a lot smoother.

6. Hugging.

Sometimes when the kids lose it, I lose it too. Nothing can push me over the edge like the incessant screams of my own children. And when I feel my blood rising, it is so much better to just stop whatever we are doing and cuddle on the couch until we all cool down. It works really, really well.

When not to use this: If the child does not want to be touched, I respect that.


These are the main things I use. But I also use a lot of the stuff on this list. It's better to link you to it than be redundant. I recommend bookmarking that. 

So there is another parent in our house and he has his own set of useful tactics. I'll try to get him to do a post here. 

If you have more tips to recommend, PLEASE SHARE! 

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how useful my tactics are. One thing that works for me, though, being easily irascible, is to leave the room for a moment, breathe deeply and remind myself to be calm and loving, to control my temper. Then when I return I'm more prepared to handle the situation in a more peaceful way.