Thursday, May 14, 2009


In my own experience and in observing other moms, I think one of the most frustrating challenges is handling a child who is throwing a fit or being defiant. It certainly is stressful to handle at home, but it is exhausting and embarrassing to have it play out in front of an audience. Our first instinct is to minimize the 'fit' and give in to the situation to avoid making a scene. While that may sometimes be necessary, I would like to share 2 things that I think can help with avoiding these situations in many cases.

First, teach your children how to ask for things or ask to do things instead of telling you. When they are little, it is as simple as them asking 'May I have the blue cup?' instead of saying 'I want the blue cup!' As they get older, it's asking if they can go outside or if they can go down the street to their friends house. If you teach them to ask you and not tell you what they want to do, you then eliminate their assumption that they can do whatever they want. It's a small change, but very effective when you take the time to train them.

The second suggestion takes a little more forethought. If you already know they are going to throw a fit/give an attitude with an answer you are about to give, try to word your answer in a way that is less restrictive. For example, if Carson asks for the blue cup, but Duncan already asked first, I would tell Carson 'You can have the blue cup next time, but Duncan gets it this time' instead of saying, 'No, you can't have the blue cup, you have to have the red one'. Or if Tyler asks to go outside, I can say 'Yes, you can go outside, but first pick up your room'. Or maybe, 'No you can't go outside because we're getting ready to leave, but you can play outside when we get back'. I don't have girls, but I get a lot of questions about getting them dressed in the morning. There are a lot of things to help with that, but if you find yourself negotiating before you walk out the door, you can let them know that 'Yes, you can wear that outfit the rest of the day when you get home, but you need to wear this to school/church/etc'.

These are examples that are usually played out at home, but once you train them, it minimizes the fits when you're home or out.

thanks so much d!

1 comment:

Sally said...

This is great advice! I love the idea of not quite saying "no", but "later".

One thing I always say to them is "IS your desire to have that cup more important than your relationship with your sister?" or "Is your desire to play outside more important that honoring your mother by obeying and coming inside to eat?"

It helps to get to the heart of the matter instead of just barking out orders (like I often do)