“I have to buy my kid the candy, otherwise he creates a scene.”
Congratulations to the parents that have made this statement. They have found out how easy it is to train a child. There have been cases where a child is diagnosed with ADD (ADHD), when it is merely a situation of the child training the parent rather than the parent training the child.
First, if this is the case with your child, don’t beat yourself up. You are GOOD parents. You just don’t have the data you need to make informed decisions regarding your child.
Here is the Key to parenting:
IF YOU LET YOUR CHILD DO SOMETHING THREE TIMES IT BECOMES A HABIT.
The very FIRST time your your infant reaches for a sweet in the check out line, take a deep breath, gently and firmly pull his hand away saying “No”. This is the single most important lesson you will ever teach in your child’s lifetime. You are teaching him that No is No PERIOD.
You also have to be prepared to look like an ogre to the little old ladies in the checkout line who will implore you to let the poor child have the sweetie.
At first your child is going to make some noise. You are going to be embarrassed. People are going to look at you accusingly. You must be willing to be the ogre. Remember, it will only take about three times of absolute NOs to train your child that when you say no, you mean no.
The biggest parental fear is of saying no. Whether the parent realizes it or not, when you deny your child, there is a subliminal fear of loosing the child’s love. THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN. The benefit well outweighs the momentary trauma of the training period. Which would you rather deal with, three or four screamers, or not being able to take your child anywhere for eighteen years without having him make you and he look like idiots.
When a child goes on a sudden growth spurt, when they grow out of their clothes overnight, their brain has grown at the same rate. These are the times when all of a sudden your child will start a new behavior. Something he has not thought of doing before. At first you may not realize that the trouble your child has landed himself in is new. Troubles such as climbing out of the play pen. You’ll know that all of a sudden you’re chasing your child around the house, and you’re scared and mad as hell. This is a typical age that the mom who has been taking her child to work has to confront a good child care provider.
Another milestone is the child not wanting to stay in the high chair or booster seat at the restaurant. At this time the parent needs to reinforce NO by GENTLY holding the child in the seat and verbalizing the command. You will have to persist until the child gives up and sits still. This could take a while, and could involve some angry screaming.
As you are wishing you could disappear under the table from embarrassment, keep reminding yourself. If I stick to it this time I won’t have to do this more than two more times.
If the parent gives in to a screaming child the parent is training the child to scream if it wants something. This can give a false reading of ADD. You’re also teaching the child that if he’s bored and wants to leave a restaurant and play with Mommy or Daddy in the parking lot, all he has to do is scream. Bright kid.
Remember, when a child is little, you are bigger. If you hold a child GENTLY but FIRMLY in the seat he will eventually give in, he has no choice. When the child decides he is not going to win, he will accept it, calm down and go to another thought. Kids are smart, they know when they’re licked. The parent is now on the way to having a child that always gets compliments from strangers for his good behavior.
When a child is screaming it’s hard to think clearly. There is a chemical reaction to an endangered child in the parent. The body has a rush of adrenalin. The muscles prepare for escape, blood leaves the brain and rushes to the escape muscles. The parent will want to stop the trauma at all cost. Sometimes the physical adrenalin reaction is parental flight with the child. Unfortunately, sometimes the parental physical reaction is to strike the child in the misplaced belief that that is a cure for the tantrum. Physical violence usually, though sometimes causing a momentary lull, trains the child to be physically violent. He will copy his parent’s instant knee jerk reactions perceiving them as appropriate adult behavior.
In advance the parent must plan to wade through the screaming, and above all be consistent with the NO. Even if, half way through, you decide “Why Not?”, you must NOT give in. The next time the child makes the same request, BEFORE you say yes or no, carefully consider, is this a time to say yes or no? Stop and think when your child makes a request. You don’t want to quickly give your child the wrong answer, because what ever is the first answer, must also be the LAST answer.
If you haven’t made up your mind about a certain request, tell your child you have to think about it. When you do give your answer, stick to it! “That’s a possibility.” is a good stall if you haven’t decided yet. Too often parents will use “no” as an interim answer until they decide, and then turn right around and say “I guess so”. The parent may think this kind of behavior somehow makes them a good guy (”Ok Johnny, I’m giving in because I love you.), but this action trains the child that if he keeps badgering the parent (ultimately not just the parent, but teacher, associate) there’s a good chance of reversing any decision made.
Consistency is the key to a well behaved child. A parent needs to be able to walk into the ice cream store and ask for a napkin to clean their child’s face and leave peacefully without buying ice cream. If your child knows that No is the last word, he will accept it, not pull an embarrassing screamer. Before going into the store the parent must communicate to the child that it is ONLY for a napkin, and stick to it.
There is nothing more joyous than having a waiter tell you how well behaved your child is. A restaurant is where the monster will come out in a poorly trained child. The waiters of the world see so many ill trained children, that a well behaved toddler is a real event. As your child matures, he will appreciate the compliments, they will reinforce his behavior even more.
In a restaurant the most important thing to work on is “we will leave when we’re ALL done.” Don’t train your child to control your visit. The first time your child reaches the developmental level of “desire to leave” you can expect some fireworks. If at this time you instill the fact that leaving will be done when YOU say so, you will set yourself up to enjoy meals rather than having to remove a noisy undisciplined child from a premises. No parental have finished meals.
This training will also be of great benefit when you have to go somewhere for an extended period with your child. There’s no promise the child won’t get restive, children have a lot of energy, but at least he won’t be an ogre to be around.
If you like to have leisurely meals take a small container of your child’s favorite action figures, or for older children a favorite book. Something he can play with on the booth seat. to occupy him as you finish your meal. Keep this toy kit of book in the car, handy.
Keep an eye on your child’s mental transitions. When the intellect takes a lunge forward, usually in conjunction with a growth spurt, your child will suddenly try new things. Be prepared for these occasions, and especially at these times of mental advancement, BE CONSISTENT! The mental jumps forward by a developing child usually will catch the parent by surprise. The child who for months has been very well behaved, will all of a sudden be driving you crazy. It takes a minute to realize that the behavior that is making you nuts is new, your child has never experienced in these ways before.
You must ask yourself, is this type of misbehavior new? If it is, it means that your child has reached a new mental plateau, and is ready to try a whole different set of activities suited to his new mental level. The hardest period of all related to this is puberty. The forces a parent has to deal with at this time are compounded by the fact that the child is now, in most cases, as big as an adult, and much less intimidated by the parent. Your only hope for co-operation in this period is a solid base of consistent discipline, “tough love”, ingrained into your teenager. If you have been consistent with your child in his youth, he is much more likely to obey you in this chaotic period. If you’ve let the child “run” you, you are in for some very rough years.
Remember, children are much more secure with rules and boundaries. Give them consistency, along with allowing them to make their own decisions, and they will be much more likely to make the right ones when they are away from the nest, and your protection is unavailable.
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