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Is the silent treatment cruel? - Page 3

post #41 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post
There is "the silent treatment" and then there is "I am not going to prolong this by continuing to discuss it with you." When my daughter gets hung up on something like that I tell her I will not be talking about it anymore. When I hear that, "Mama?" from the back seat I say, "is this going to be about X?" And the first few times, maybe it was going to be about X so I say, "I said I am done talking about it. Do you want to ask me something else?"

Mostly my daughter is pretty good about moving on, but when she decides to wallow she does NOT need my help staying in that miserable, whiny place and my trying to "help her process" is just making the misery last longer.
This exactly. I was given the "silent treatment" growing up and have received it as an adult and it's not at all what you described, OP. I think you did great with what you had going on-longish car ride, everyone tired/hungry, etc. I liked the suggestion of hand holding, I may have tried that in the same situation. I also think there comes a point sometimes where if they won't follow you out into a better mood, you can hit the ignore button so you won't explode. It's okay. Mary
post #42 of 57
I think all of the suggestions have been great. One other I would add if you are going to use this discipline method (other than calling it something else like planned ignoring or something) Is to give a time limit of some sort. Like I will talk to you when this song is over if you're quiet or In five minutes if you've calmed down we can talk again. Then are you calm? no, ok here's another song.

I think my issue with this is the idea that kids might not realize that there is an end. It may feel like you are never going to speak to them again or you no longer love them (this is not with all children) and I think offering clear parameters as to when they will again receive attention can take away any negatives, also it stops the continued conversation.
just my two cents

BTW: the actual silent treatment, ie shunning I think is cruel from anyone, but that is clearly not what you were doing.
post #43 of 57
I don't think that's the silent treatment. I think of the ST as an actual punishment, like shunning. Yes, that's cruel. But what you did is different. You were done with the conversation. I've done that with adults, too. It's called saving my sanity.
post #44 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quaniliaz View Post
To those of you who are in support of continued validation: not all children respond positively to this. I'm completely in favor of validation, but some kids just get stuck, and need help or time to move on. If I were to validate dd1's feelings until she decided she was ready to move on it could take (literally) hours. By contrast genuinely validating and empathizing for a while, and then moving on works much much better.

OTOH, DD2 seems less likely to get stuck.
This is DD. She calms down much better if I am no longer feeding the drama with 'validation'.

Of course, I do my best to help her transition, but when she's over-the-top Losing It, walking away is better for her personality. We sometimes have a co-dependent type feel to tantrums that I'm trying to deal with.

For the OP, I personally would've kept trying to change the subject. "What's your favorite color, animal, shape etc..." "Look over there at the XYZ" kind of stuff tends to work for us.

Also having an immediate distraction in the car is always a great idea. A snack. A special toy for the car---b/c asking her to transition when the next activity is not immediate is probably too much for her.

To get my DD out of the house, we do popscicles in the car seat. And then I usually have a snack in the car for the ride home. She has her laptop too to play with which she enjoys.

I am not necessarily opposed to how you handled it, but I think you had some other options on the table still.

And maybe I would have said "You have big feelings about leaving. That's okay, but I am done talking about it. You let me know when you're done too." as opposed to how it was worded in the OP. This allows her to have her feelings but removes you from being responsible for them.

V
post #45 of 57
That response would send me over the edge as an adult, as a child it would have been beyond damaging. That is who I am, and how my personality works. I have vivid memories of car trips with my parents from about that age, and I was incessant. My parents tried everything, and I could not settle myself. Reassurance was the only thing that helped.

I do believe that shutting down completely as you did was understandable as you were at a loss, but I also think it was a less-than helpful solution for her. I think I would have responded simply by calmly stating that I knew she was upset, but it was time to go. Sure, it's a broken record and annoying for you, but paired with asking about her favorite part of the day it might have helped her transition.

IMO-
Quote:
OMG you'd think we were tormenting her. She was screaming at us, "MAMA! PAPA! I AM TALKING TO YOU ABOUT SOMETHING!" "MAMA! TALK TO MEEEEE!" and kicking in her seat and trying to kick me, and really becoming out of control. I have actually never seen her so upset - not being acknowledged was clearly the worst experience she has ever had. She is normally very mild mannered and rarely has a temper tantrum so this was very much out of character for her.
Should have told you that it was inappropriate for her. It's trial and error to find what works.

What worked with my oldest was time in her room- or somewhere else on her own to regain her composure. Trying to hug/touch/reassure her when she was really upset backfired a lot, but so did having her upset and within eyesight without interacting. After a while she learned to say she was feeling upset and head off to her room before she unraveled.

(FWIW, totally not a judgment, we all have moments in parenting where we do something that isn't what we would like it to be. If this is the worst that ever happens, you've got a super-lucky kid.)
post #46 of 57
I didn't read everyone else's answers, but my answer is that it was clearly inappropriate and too harsh for YOUR dd, and now you know! The whole reason you stopped talking about it was to diffuse the situation, and obviously it didn't work well!

I do tell my 5 year old that I'm not interested in talking about it anymore, but I still answer her. If she cries, "Mommy, I SAID..." or "Why aren't you answering me?" (even though she ought to know), I answer something like, "I hear you, sweetie, but I'm not going to talk about xyz anymore. I'll talk about how much your feet have grown, or how many fairies are riding in the car, or whether our car is blue or green, though!"

Just as an example.
post #47 of 57
okay, I agree that I expressed my opinion too strongly and the way I worded it was rude.
I am sorry about that. It just made me sad to think of a 2 and a 1/2 yr old being ignored. I also might have over read your original post? Maybe not. the part that made me react was that I thought you ignored her to the point of not even acknowledging that she was speaking. Not that you ignored the thing she wouldn't stop talking about. There is a distinction there.
I will try not to react so strongly in the future at the expense of being rude to the poster. should I edit out that response myself then?
post #48 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artichokie View Post
Yeah, I did that until the last 5 min at which point I couldn't engage her and still hold my myself together - I would have started yelling at her. Maybe yelling would have been better than ignoring?
Quote:
For the last five minutes of the trip, it was either ignore her or yell. Really, I held it together as long as I could.
I think this has to be taken on a child by child basis, honestly. I would 1000X rather be yelled at than ignored...seriously. My mom is the same way. Her mom used the silent treatment (in a much more punishing way, admittedly) and at 66, she still remembers how horrible it made her feel. I've met kids who seem to do okay with it, but for me (being on the receiving end, I mean), it would definitely qualify as cruel. I'd rather be yelled at, any day.
post #49 of 57
Artichoke we might be sharing the same kid!

Mine too can be VERY controlling, to the extent of screaming "DON'T DANCE YOUR HEAD! NOOOO HEAD DANCING!" if i'm nodding along to music in the car! She would definitely rather be yelled at than ignored, she is the sort of kid who doesn't mind what the interaction is, so long as there is interaction and SHE is directing it. However, i don't want to spend my life yelling, and since yelling is within her range of "good" responses from me, it doesn't help any anyway. She would go on even more, to get more yelling, because it's better than someone else directing where the conversation is going or having NO conversation. My DD is 4 and frequently brings up "terrible" things that happened 2+ years ago when she's looking for a reason to fuss. I was the same way - i remember it making perfect sense at the time, but now it makes me laugh at how attached to such things i got. To be fair she will also bring up wonderful or exciting or happy things to discuss.

The Silent Treatment isn't something i think is being described here. When i was 11 my mother THOUGHT i did something she disapproved of (i didn't, my brother was a liar and mad at me because i wouldn't lend him headphones i KNEW he'd break, so he made something up and my mother believed him) and she didn't speak to me above one-word responses or LOOK at me for ELEVEN days. And when she found out my brother had lied she didn't. even. apologise.
post #50 of 57
I guess for me it helps to examine my expectation that the 2.5 yr. old is in some way capable of holding it together (i.e. not going on and on about her disappointment), yet the grown ups (with a life-time of coping skills) are struggling to hold it together, too.

And to sort of compare the disappointment of leaving the best place you've ever seen vs. listening to someone have very strong emotions for 10-20 minutes. If I'm struggling to hold it together in the face of someone expressing themselves (and it happens), how much can I expect of the kid, you know?

That perspective shift helped me a lot when my kids were little and BIG feelings took a lot of processing (especially for my extroverts).
post #51 of 57
I do the "I'm done with this conversation--would you like to talk about something else?" thing. I think that's fine--I really do.

I have sometimes just stopped responding at all and shut down because I was about to lose it, which is different and not something I really advocate. However, at times I think it's preferable to the other alternatives. Maybe DD would rather be yelled at, but *I* would not rather be yelling. I feel rotten about myself as a parent when I go over that edge, and I also will resent my kid for "making" me go there. (fair or not)
post #52 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkey's mom View Post
I guess for me it helps to examine my expectation that the 2.5 yr. old is in some way capable of holding it together (i.e. not going on and on about her disappointment), yet the grown ups (with a life-time of coping skills) are struggling to hold it together, too.

And to sort of compare the disappointment of leaving the best place you've ever seen vs. listening to someone have very strong emotions for 10-20 minutes. If I'm struggling to hold it together in the face of someone expressing themselves (and it happens), how much can I expect of the kid, you know?

That perspective shift helped me a lot when my kids were little and BIG feelings took a lot of processing (especially for my extroverts).
I work on this a lot. When I find myself yelling, "SETTLE down and stop freaking out", it really sinks home that I'm being completely ridiculous, yk?
post #53 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by monkey's mom View Post
I guess for me it helps to examine my expectation that the 2.5 yr. old is in some way capable of holding it together (i.e. not going on and on about her disappointment), yet the grown ups (with a life-time of coping skills) are struggling to hold it together, too.

And to sort of compare the disappointment of leaving the best place you've ever seen vs. listening to someone have very strong emotions for 10-20 minutes. If I'm struggling to hold it together in the face of someone expressing themselves (and it happens), how much can I expect of the kid, you know?

That perspective shift helped me a lot when my kids were little and BIG feelings took a lot of processing (especially for my extroverts).
Exactly this! Great post.
post #54 of 57
Wow, you got a lot of great advice in this thread. I'm interested to know if you've tried it out yet and how that worked. From my experience, I agree in completing your explaination, validating that she's upset/angry/sad and you know it, then stating you're not going to talk about it any further. I love the other ideas about bringing up topics you will talk about. Every so often suggesting a new topic or acknowledging her calmly is great.

The only thing I'd add is perhaps taking the time later after you're both cooled off to talk about it with her. Maybe while getting ready for bed, "You sure were upset today when we left xyz." and let her talk. When you're both calm is a better time to take advantage of the experience as a learning opportunity, if only to teach about letdown, "I know you wanted to stay and play. It's so hard to do things we don't want to do, like leave when we're not ready." You can also let her know the rules, "When we have to stop doing something you want to keep doing like that, I can tell you why, but then we're done with the conversation, sweetie." Then give her the power to be in control when that happens again, "When we have to leave another place you like, what can we talk about to help make it easier?"

I sure hope all this has helped!
post #55 of 57
I totally read those books and often thought about what I would rather have. In my family, I think I would have welcomed the silent treatment!
post #56 of 57
Quote:
Going about our business (rather than just no speaking to her) would upset her just as much, I am certain.
I agree. Mine is the same way. I am just saying, I don't think that "talking at" is any less cruel than not responding, unless of course the child is worried that her parents are not there at all. But it doesn't sound like that would be the case.
Quote:
I work on this a lot. When I find myself yelling, "SETTLE down and stop freaking out", it really sinks home that I'm being completely ridiculous, yk?
Haha, when I get into a yelling rut of a few days it always ends with words like that. Duh, mom. (<-- That is to me, not to you!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by treeoflife3 View Post
Quote:
I am/was a very senitive person/child (and honestly I think high needs) and my mom gave me the silent treatment sometimes. I was a big talker and EVERYTHING was always exciting or horrible to me and I loved sharing everything I knew. She would just stop listening because she was too tired to listen anymore. It really hurt my feelings that she couldn't even conjure up a 'that is very nice sweetie' for me because I never really needed her to be engaged... I just needed to know she was listening (and even if she wasn't REALLY listening, something that makes it seem like it was nice)

I think there is a big difference between letting a child get out what she needs and saying 'honey I love you and I know you are ___ but I've explained why ___ so how about we ___' and giving the child the chance to be done while changing topics/distracting/whatever and just plain down right IGNORING and not having any sort of communication with the child.

I agree that not engaging in something that won't change is good. Children need to know boundries and they can't always have what they want. But I also think it is very important to meet their emotional NEEDS and help them come down from whatever is going on by leading them away from the topic by a gentle means. Asking them about something else that will make them happy or whatever is a much better option than ignoring cries of 'mommy! I'm trying to talk to you!'

I'm still hurt today by my mom ignoring me. Especially because she has actually told me that she definitely did ignore me. It wasn't just a feeling I got, but something she did. I understand I was exhausting, but I still needed something from her. One time won't destroy a child (I definitely don't remember the first time or most of the times!) but if it is your go to way for dealing with situations your child has a hard time with but you simply can't change, eventually I think it might affect her in a negative way.
Enough is definitely enough, but sometimes kids need help getting away from what can't and won't be changed. It can be hard to shift gears when the emotions are big.
I have a chatty child. She needs and wants an audience all day long. Before she could talk or when she just kind of jabbered words here and there, people would say things like, "Just wait, you will be wanting quiet soon enough" and I'd think, oh just tune it out, you big wimp. How hard can it be.

Now I have a child who talks endlessly all day long. Everything is dramatic, everything is a story, there are songs and characters and it JUST NEVER ENDS. I'm EXHAUSTED by the middle of the morning just from all the talking at me. I do the best I can and I don't want to hurt her feelings. I love that she has this BIG imagination (and will be SO relieved when she can write some of it down instead of vomiting words at me all day long - can you tell she's been talking since 5.45 am and I am WORN OUT?) but sometimes I have to tune her out or send her on her way or I will just explode. I think endless kid jabber could be a form of torture, I really do. I love her, she is often very funny and always very inventive and creative but the endless talking is needy and it wears on a person.

Sometimes the help they need "getting away" from something they can't change is a firm line in the sand that says I WILL NOT ENGAGE WITH YOU ON THIS ANYMORE. Sometimes that is the only thing that will help them shift gears. When you've given a warning that something is going to happen, it happens, and then you've spent a reasonable amount of time being sympathetic and reflecting their feelings, you can either stay with them and help them be muddled and stuck in that moment or you can refuse to entertain it any longer so they will move on. I am sure if the OP's daughter had decided to talk about anything else at all they would have been more than happy to listen. Sometimes continuing to engage the misery makes things WORSE, not better.
I think this is an interesting interaction.

I am glad to hear from someone who was "that" child.

To treeoflife, have you considered that she might have actually done that and you did not hear her at all because you were talking? I know that there have been times that I've gotten down at my DD's level (not sure if she saw for all the bouncing), explained two or three times that we need to move on, we are going to do a quiet game now because sister has to calm down and go to sleep, and I'm not sure she heard.

At all.

I truly believe that she will remember only the moment that I picked up her sister and left the room to put sister down for a nap.

That was the ONLY thing that mattered to her. I didn't want to leave without her! But she didn't hear me asking her to calm down and come for a story.

So consider that you might not have heard the gentle things your mom was saying, really, truly not heard. You might also not have accepted her faux-listening. If I say, "mmmm, really?" to my daughter after I have processed my maximum number of Dora stories for the day, she starts complaining. "You're not really listening! Really listen!"

I mean, sorry. My brain just shorts out at that point. I can't listen any more, any more than I can keep running up stairs all day. I eat a lot of fish and flax and leafy greens and drink coffee but apparently, my gray matter just has room for patience for about six kabillion Dora stories, and that's it.

OTOH, as the mom of a kid like this and at this age, my plan was to start giving myself time-outs. Because if there was ANY word I could use to get through to her, any gentle touch, I would use it. There is not.

What this says to me, though, is that I need to explain to her beforehand (at a time when she can really, really listen) that when she doesn't hear me or listen and does something mean it makes me so angry that I need to leave or I will yell. And that as soon as she's ready to speak like a person (instead of trying to engage me in a directed dialogue), she can tell me it's safe to come out.

She might prefer yelling, but guess what? I'm not here to give her positive feedback for being rude. I'm here to keep it together, and it's darn hard to do.

I do think "silent treatment" needs to be defined, though. Not continuing a conversation is one thing. Asking someone to leave to calm down is one thing. Not listening for 20 minutes so you can concentrate on not messing up the dal is one thing. Telling a child that you won't talk to them for x minutes or hours or whatever because you are angry and then blatantly and demonstratively ignoring them, which is what I consider the silent treatment to be, is immature and if not cruel, at the very least rude.
post #57 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Artichokie View Post
but I was very taken aback by how very very upset she was by this.
could she have been tired? that is the kind of behav. my dd showed when she was tired or hungry or didnt have enough activity. she completely lost the power to reason and became tantrummy and totally illogical.

however at that age - for my dd - your kind of silent treatment when dd is yelling those words WOULD be cruel to my dd. i may not continue arguing with her, but i would use other body language to respond to her.

i personally hate the silent treatment, so i have never done it with dd. but she has gotten many silencing looks to guide her how to behave.
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