Help!! I am losing patience with my 4 1/2 year olds drama - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 07:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son will be 5 in January. He was a sweet, caring, thoughtful, energetic little man. He also loses his little mind over almost anything that does not go his way. He screams and cries at the top of his lungs, lays down on the floor and carries on and on and on. I have tried coaching him through it: take a deep breath, relax, use your words, etc. I have walked away because it literally makes my ears throb. I have even been taking him to his room so that he can be in a quiet place to calm down and regroup (which actually seems to work pretty well in calming him down). But, i am looking for coping mechanisms. Now, he only does this at home. It isn't something that happens at school. Here is an example of what happened this morning. I'm half awake and he is requesting waffles for breakfast while he watches his favorite tv show (i know that isn't ideal but that is another thread). Apparently, today he wanted just one without syrup. I didn't hear that part. I gave him two with syrup and he fell apart. All was wrong in his world. I am so losing my patience with this and my husband is completely done with it.

Any suggestions?

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#2 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 07:34 AM
 
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Honestly, my first suggestion, before anything else, would be to change what he gets for breakfast.  If my dd has a breakfast based on grains, let along with syrup, her behavior is bad all day.  If she has a breakfast based on protein, like eggs, her behavior is remarkably better, all the way to and including bedtime.  It just sets her up right for the day.  But your ds sounds very much like how my dd behaved before I switched from cereal to eggs for breakfast.  Diet makes a really huge impact on behavior.

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#3 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 09:41 AM
 
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Say:  "Sorry, but I didn't hear you.  It isn't the end of the world, so eat your waffles or not."  Walk away.  Stay away.  41/2 is old enough for some semblance of self control, and going on and cooking more syrupless waffles simply reinforces that having a screaming fit gets results.  He will eventually stop screaming.  Turn off the lights and TV as you leave the room. 

 

When he is done pitching a fit, tell him that you will entertain changes in food, but only if he asks you in a respectful manner.

 

Who is the parent, after all?  If you didn't know more than he does, you wouldn't be in charge.  So.....

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#4 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 10:07 AM
 
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I would simply say "well here are your waffles. Eat them or don't." And I would disengage.

 

I can understand turning off the TV but the lights? Why make an upset kid sit in the dark? Turning off the lights is punitive. I don't think there is anything wrong with helping him handle disappointment within the framework of realizing that food is often an easy way for a child to have some control over his environment.

 

I also agree with Mamazee that I too would offer an egg instead of a high sugar start to the day. I think we all do better with a more protein rich breakfast.

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#5 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess i'm looking for preventative measures cause trust me, i do all of those things. i have tried everything. i absolutely do not give into fits, the more he screams the more i dig into not giving him what he is screaming about. clearly, the consequence of not getting what he wants does not seem to be getting through to him. and usually he has peanut butter toast and a banana for breakfast. waffles is occasional.

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#6 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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Don't think you can prevent the fit-pitching except by making it totally non-productive.  Then it eventually extinguishes itself.

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#7 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 02:15 PM
 
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Some of that is normal for that age, but if you think its over-the-top and occurs multiple times daily, you might try reading "The Explosive Child." Some children have more than average difficulty in being flexible, in adjusting to things not being exactly like the picture in their head, and have very low tolerance for frustration. The book can help you formulate a plan for dealing with the behaviors - its more than just a simple matter of not giving in to tantrums. Its also typical for these children to be able to hold it together at school but not at home - this does not indicate that he has self-control over the meltdowns or that he can simply choose to stop behaving as he does.

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#8 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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It sounds to me like he continues to scream because he doesn't feel heard, especially if you are turning off the TV (why do this?  what does it have to do with the issue at hand?) or leaving the room. When he begins to get upset, can you "translate" his screams for him by making empathy guesses:  "Oh, you sound really sad!  Are you upset because you didn't get what you wanted?  It sounds like you're disappointed that your breakfast wasn't the way you were expecting.  It can be really disappointing when we think we're going to get something and it doesn't happen.  Do you want to tell me what you'd like me to do differently next time?"  I'm not saying that you have to bring him a new breakfast or do over whatever was done wrong.  But you can let him know that you hear his disappointment and would like him to let you know how it could be better next time.  

 

I don't think this is unreasonable behavior for a 4.5yo.  Strong emotions are hard to control and express in a constructive way at any age--when someone makes you really mad, it's hard not to raise your voice or use hurtful words.  It's hard to instead be vulnerable and admit to being hurt. 

 

My son is just about a month older than yours, and we deal with this sort of situation all the time.   They're still young, still learning how to navigate in a world where they often don't have power or choice!  The only difference is, my son doesn't need to escalate his behavior because rather than seeing it as a power struggle or thinking of him as being manipulative, I make sure I've heard clearly what the upset is about, and give him the tools to express himself in a different way.

 

I see a lot of PPs have advised not "giving in" to the tantrum.  In my experience, this only makes a stressful situation worse.  Basically you're telling an upset child that you don't care about what they're crying about, that their feelings and needs are less important than your need to "control" your child's behavior.  I don't see my methods as "giving in."  I see them as working together to meet everyone's needs so we can all be less stressed and have a better time of it.

 

If we model compassion and understanding, they WILL get it someday.

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#9 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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lizajane, i do try to talk with him about it but it still escalates the situation. and when he is calm i try to talk to him about it and he tries to get out of it. i did talk with him about what happened this morning, this afternoon. i do think you are right with the not feeling heard part. he often will say "you didn't let me talk", i mean cry, which is frustrating in itself because he won't let me talk! but then when i do stop and ask what he wants to say he says he can't say it anymore. which is frustrating. i'm trying but it doesn't seem to be helping.

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#10 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 04:32 PM
 
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Maybe focus more on hearing him, rather than on talking with him about it?  Sometimes when I want to have a talk with my son at a time when emotions aren't running so high, he thinks he's "in trouble."  When I asked him once what that means, he said "You're going to talk and talk."  So, he thinks a talk is being in trouble and thus doesn't want to participate.

 

I start by asking him if he's worried he's going to be in trouble, and reassuring him that he's not; that I want to talk because I love him and want us to be able to understand one another. I bring the subject up in a way that lets him know I'm firmly on his side.  For instance, "You were so sad this morning when I brought your breakfast and it wasn't the way you wanted it.  Do you want to tell me about it?"  Or, "I want to be sure we can get your breakfast right tomorrow.  Is there anything I should know before I start making it?"  That way the ball is in his court, so to speak.  He gets to "go first" and let out everything he has festering or express needs that are still unmet.  Once you've reflected back to him what you heard and made sure you heard him correctly, you could ask him if he's ready to hear how you feel about it.  If he's not, respect that and ask again if there's something more he wants to say. 

 

When it's your turn, focus on needs and feelings.  "I felt so frustrated this morning because I wanted to help you but I didn't know how.  I feel yucky when I'm being yelled at.  When I hear yelling I want to cover my ears--and then I feel sad because I can't hear you and help make things better.  Now that you've told me what was wrong, I'd like to try again tomorrow because I want everyone in the family to get their needs met if possible."

 

Of course this isn't a magic bullet or an instant cure.  Like anything we do with our kids, it takes time for them to get it and be able to implement it themselves.  As I said in my earlier post, if we can model compassion we will eventually see it in our children too.  If we refuse to hear their requests because they're not expressed the way we want them to be, we're modeling that trying to express your needs will only cause others to isolate you and withdraw their love--and it will never teach them what we really want them to learn.

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#11 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 05:35 PM
 
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I would simply say "well here are your waffles. Eat them or don't." And I would disengage.

 

 

 

 This.  I have a 5 yo DD who will get upset over things and refuse to tell me why.  We'll be going along just fine, and all of a sudden she's huffing and sighing and slamming things around and scowling at me, but getting her to verbalize what is wrong is nearly impossible (and trust me, this kid is capable of a HIGH level of verbalization when she feels like it).  Any perceived injustice and there she goes. 

 

What has worked well for us is to just stop providing an audience for the drama.   If she starts huffing and sighing and won't tell me what is wrong, I calmly say, "Okay, well I'm here when you're ready to talk about it." and busy myself elsewhere.  If she starts to tantrum, she goes to her room with the door shut until she can be calm again.  If she comes out before then, I return her to her bedroom, close the door, and walk away.  Sometimes I have to do this a few times before she'll stay.  I find it helpful in this instance to make sure I am occupied in something else and that she is not deterring me, for example if I was doing the dishes, I put her back in her room, wordlessly, and walk back toward the dishes, even if I have to turn around halfway to the sink and return her to her room.  Even standing outside her closed door is engagement with this child.  She'll stay in her room and scream for a while, then she'll come out and ask for a hug, which is her 'olive branch'.  We have a cuddle.  Sometimes she'll tell me what the problem was.  Sometimes she won't. 

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#12 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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your son sounds a lot like my almost 5 (in december) year old dd.  i also vote to disengage and leave the room or "help" him to his room to calm down.  not having an audience is very important to dd.  also, we talk a lot about her bahvior after the fact. so, i know that for her, she just has very strong emotions that she really struggles to control. but she also knows that it is inappropriate to yell/scream/carry on like she does. and a lot of this is also as a pp said - not having the maturity and ability to verbalize the feelings/issues and feeling very very strong emotions

 

the biggest thing that has helped has been really making sure she is sleeping enough.  when she is well rested, she can handle the ups and downs of every day better.  when she is tired, watch out world.  it hasn't totally extinguished it, but it does help a lot.

 

also, if it is something that i know before hand will set her off (like dinner plans changing when she was excited about them) i will talk her through it.  it does often help.  otherwise, if it is something i didn't catch (like the waffles) i will just disengage and later talk about ways she could have asked respectfully and explaining that i didn't hear her and that it was not respectful for her to treat me that way. 

 

we also spend a lot of time talking about different ideas that are the foundation of her being upset.  for example - sometimes she will flip out about not having the pink "thing" that she wants. we have talked about how having a certain color doesn't mean anything about who you are or what you like, it just means you got stuck with the blue fork or the orange paper.  Or if she is upset because the clothes she wants to wear aren't clean that day, we have talked about how sometimes you don't get to wear your favorite clothes, you jsut have to wear what is clean or seasonally appropriate - and that it doesn't mean anything about you personally, it just means that your pink leggings were dirty adn your brown ones were clean.  of course, we have talked about these things after the fact, but now we have talked about it so much that when i see that look in her eye i can start reminding her about those concepts adn she calms down.

 

i read part of the explosive child, i found it helpful, and it helped me come up with those strategies i talked about above.  the main focus of the book is to discuss strategies with your child once they are calm to be used the next time they are freaking out.   

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#13 of 86 Old 11-17-2010, 11:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hereis another example. let's say i am talking on the phone with my husband and he and i are wrapping up 'cause hubby has a meeting to go to and i say "ok goodbye" and i hang up at the very same moment he asks to talk to his dad. then he realizes i hung up and freaks out. even if it is a simple fix, like, i can call him back, no big deal. but he still carries on and on and on.

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#14 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 07:31 AM
 
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hereis another example. let's say i am talking on the phone with my husband and he and i are wrapping up 'cause hubby has a meeting to go to and i say "ok goodbye" and i hang up at the very same moment he asks to talk to his dad. then he realizes i hung up and freaks out. even if it is a simple fix, like, i can call him back, no big deal. but he still carries on and on and on.


Slow down the process and start with empathy, without going into reassurances that it's a simple fix.  If you're telling him that you can call back, that it's a simple fix, that once he calms down you'll dial--then you're not hearing his upset.  In fact you're basically telling him that his feelings aren't valid at all.  Give ONLY empathy, until he feels heard: "OH NO!  You really wanted to talk to Papa, and I hung up before you got to!  That's so disappointing!"  Repeat some version of this until he calms down.  There's no need to "fix" the problem until he's sure you heard him!  Once he's calm, you can ask if he'd like to hear some solutions--or if you think he's ready, simply say that you're willing to call back if he'd still like a chance to talk.

 

Of course, if this is a common scene you could avoid it by asking, before you hang up, if DS would like to talk with his dad.  Or check in with DS before you even call, so you can let DH know that when you're done DS would like to talk.

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#15 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 09:42 AM
 
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Don't think you can prevent the fit-pitching except by making it totally non-productive.  Then it eventually extinguishes itself.



I agree completely.

 

Get the Tv out of the picture and try some protein in the morning, too. My son is much better if he's had eggs or oatmeal than plain bread-y things.

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#16 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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Don't think you can prevent the fit-pitching except by making it totally non-productive.  Then it eventually extinguishes itself.



I agree completely.

I have to say, this doesn't fit with my vision of AP.  This sounds like CIO for the older set, and doesn't feel gentle to me.  The basic idea is the same as CIO: ignore the crying and it will eventually stop.  Sure, but at what cost?  It isn't teaching the child a better way to communicate, it's only teaching them that their needs will not be met unless they're expressed in a way that meets adult approval.  The child may be "demanding" a new waffle, but the adult is also demanding that the child speak in a certain way.  The adult is doing exactly what they're asking the child NOT to do!  I think the only way to get them to speak the way you'd like is to model it, yes, over and over again.
 

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#17 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 10:32 AM
 
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nak

 

my dd1 is 5 in april.  she is dramatic too sometimes.  i tend to state fact (you asked for waffles, i made waffles) and then be available but disengaged until she calms down.  her dad (xp), sits and talks and empathises and tries to solve/fix/augment.  she is WAY more resilient around me.  obviously she's only one child, not every child.  

 

I'm pretty sure the harm of CIO results from the baby being unable to find you, unable to communicate its need and unable to do anything to help itself.  the same definitely cannot be said for my 4yo!  and tbh i don't want her to realise i will listen for 50mins how heartbroken she was that i cut her toast into squares rather than triangles, i want her to realise it's a very minor thing in the grand scheme, and eat her toast.  

 

when something serious happens i will talk for longer, it's not like i dismiss every time she's upset as drama, but i think my response SHOWS her perspective.  Your toast is the wrong shape?  oh well.  you're missing your non-resident father?  I'm sorry, you'll see him tomorrow, you want to phone him?  Your relative died?  Yeah that's terrible, and we're all feeling it to some degree, want to hug and revisit the topic as often as necessary?

 

ymmv, i guess it depends on whether one feels one's kids are looking for external guidance on scales of hardship and perspective or just a relentlessly empathic person to hear their every ill as if all were equally tragic.

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#18 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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Making the tantrum non-productive doesnt' have to mean basically CIO for the older set.  You can disengage in a respectful and gentle way.  "You didn't want syrup on your waffles.  What should we do about that?"  *tantrum*  "OK, well let me know when you decide whether you just want that waffle or a new one without syrup."  And then don't get involved with the tantrum.  We don't always help tantrums by staying involved, and we can feed the emotional state by getting upset too.  I really think in a lot of cases it's best to just disengage, not abandon but not get emotionally involved and invested in it.  Just let the tantrum go.

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#19 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 12:51 PM
 
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Okay.  I have a different tack.

 

I find that DD1 screams and has fits when:

 

1.  She is very hungry.  I.e. before she's eaten.  The best thing I can do is have a healthy snack ready for her when she wakes.  I'm up first but can you leave some nuts and dried fruits out for him to get when he wakes?

 

2.  She has to pee but either doesn't know it, or is ignoring it.  :irked  Honestly, there's not a lot I can do about that, except making sure that I treat lightly before the morning pee, or if I know she probably has to go, LOL.  I might suggest it, like, "Hey, why don't you take baby pee and go pee and then we'll have this snack..."

 

3.  She is very tired.  Then, my disengagement with the fit goes like this:  "You just sound exhausted.  I'm taking you to bed for your own good."  Yes, she still has a fit but she usually falls asleep for a nap or night very quickly if she's *that* tired.

 

Ignoring fits in my house doesn't "work" because she follows me around and tries to escalate things if I totally ignore her.  :shrug  I guess other kids didn't think of that?  I don't know.  I always wonder what disengagement looks like with normal people.  With me, it looks like a locked door.  If she starts trying to disrespect my body or our property, I tell her she needs to leave and I do lock the door if she doesn't stay out until calm.

 

I don't think these totally prevent tantrums but they lessen them and then at least I feel like I'm being composed, that there are consequences she can learn from (you don't do that to people and stay in the same room with them), and yet, I am not being unreasonable.  Which is what I want.


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#20 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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Don't think you can prevent the fit-pitching except by making it totally non-productive.  Then it eventually extinguishes itself.



I agree completely.

I have to say, this doesn't fit with my vision of AP.  This sounds like CIO for the older set, and doesn't feel gentle to me.  The basic idea is the same as CIO: ignore the crying and it will eventually stop.  Sure, but at what cost?  It isn't teaching the child a better way to communicate, it's only teaching them that their needs will not be met unless they're expressed in a way that meets adult approval.  The child may be "demanding" a new waffle, but the adult is also demanding that the child speak in a certain way.  The adult is doing exactly what they're asking the child NOT to do!  I think the only way to get them to speak the way you'd like is to model it, yes, over and over again.
 



Her son has turned into a little tyrant and you want her to "baby" him some more? No wonder AP parents get bad raps!

She is doing no one a favor by encouraging him to act this way.

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#21 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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My son is also 4.5 and into the drama. wave.gif I say/do different things based on the situation.

 

"I will be glad to listen when your voice is calm like mine."

 

When he was throwing a kicking on the floor screaming tantrum, I was so surprised I laughed (to be fair, it was his first real TANTRUM and he was 4.3 at the time.) Then I gave him tips, which started him laughing.

 

We negotiate but negotiations are closed to people who are yelling or screaming. So if he is upset about a perceived injustice, I will offer, "Would you like to negotiate?" That is enough of a reminder for him to calm down and talk with me. In the waffle instance, we would probably negotiate something like him eating those waffles and then making them the way he wanted the next day so that we don't waste food. Or it could be me eating those waffles ('cause I am less particular) and making a new one for him.

 

I also turn off the TV when he is yelling at me as "I see the TV is causing you to yell at your mum. Oh, no..." Most of our battles revolve around the TV and I want to be rid of it but...we both enjoy watching TV, too. whistling.gif

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#22 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 03:09 PM
 
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I have to say, this doesn't fit with my vision of AP.  This sounds like CIO for the older set, and doesn't feel gentle to me.  The basic idea is the same as CIO: ignore the crying and it will eventually stop.  Sure, but at what cost?  It isn't teaching the child a better way to communicate, it's only teaching them that their needs will not be met unless they're expressed in a way that meets adult approval.  The child may be "demanding" a new waffle, but the adult is also demanding that the child speak in a certain way.  The adult is doing exactly what they're asking the child NOT to do!  I think the only way to get them to speak the way you'd like is to model it, yes, over and over again.
 


I think at age 4-5 we've sort of moved out of AP and moved into GD haven't we?

 

Respectfully, I think you need to  realize that some of us have children who operate differently than your child(ren).  If I do what you're suggesting, my child escalates and the behavior is reinforced.  Each of my children are parented a little differently because they are individuals and they don't all respond and react identically to the same situations. 

 

The OP mentions that he only does this at home, which indicates that he does have some degree of control over it.  I wouldn't expect it out of a 2 or 3 yo, but expecting a 5 (or almost 5) yo to express themselves with some degree of calmness and respect is not terrible or horrible.  I'm not talking about perfect, adult behavior.  But falling down screaming, thrashing, crying to the point of hyperventilation over something as simple as a breakfast request just doesn't fly in this household.  There are more people living here than just my 5 yo.  She is not allowed to make the home environment miserable for the other 4 people living here, period.  The behavior is modeled when I don't fly off the handle and yell back when she starts up with the drama and tantrums, or when I politely ask her to put her shoes away or take her dishes to the sink or to please stop making that noise or whatever. 

 

They're going to go out into the world an interact with playmates, classmates, peers, teachers, etc etc etc.  Frankly, I think NOT teaching them to word requests respectfully and calmly does them a huge disservice.  Again, I'm not saying that we need to expect perfect, adult behavior out of a 5 yo kid--rather working with them towards responsible, respectful adult behavior as a long-term goal.


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#23 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 04:50 PM
 
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Look, if I ignore my own needs for some semblance of peace, order, and respect, eventually I'll snap and there will be blood on the floor.  Just the way I am....so in order for there to be peace in my home, for all concerned, the kids HAVE to learn to behave.

 

Parenting does not mean submerging yourself and your needs in your children so completely you are devastated when they grow up.  It means teaching your kids to respect you and themselves.  If you have no self-respect, you can't expect it from your kids either....and no-one needs their very own mama doormat.

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#24 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 08:57 PM
 
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I guess I see AP simply as respectful parenting, and I don't think it should stop when the children are older.  I think many posters have assumed that I don't advocate teaching children to use respectful words to make requests.  I do think absolutely they should learn this--but I prefer to teach it by modeling patience, compassion, and empathy.  It's also been suggested that I'm letting my kids walk all over me, or that I'm ignoring my own needs in trying to meet theirs.  I disagree.  I think it's possible for everyone's needs to matter. They don't all get met all the time, but they do matter.  Everyone's feelings matter too.  When they're upset, it may not be something *I* would be upset over, but that doesn't mean their feelings aren't real.

 

FWIW, I have seen empathy work with children of all ages who are anywhere from mildly to wildly upset (and adults too).  My kids are probably not especially different than any of yours.  No, they're not perfect...but they're not "little tyrants" and I doubt OP's son is, either. 

 

I'm guessing this is going to be an "agree to disagree" case here since I seem to be the only one who thinks it's okay and even downright helpful to empathize with an upset child.

 

ETA: In response to GoBecGo, it has never taken me even NEAR 50 minutes to empathize with my kids about anything, whether it's an improperly cut sandwich or something major.  Empathy takes much less time than a full-blown tantrum, that's for sure!  I also don't believe that kids need us to teach them a scale of severity when it comes to their own feelings by ignoring them if they don't fit our personal estimation of being worth the time it takes to consider them; I think they get it, especially if you help them by empathizing.  My son knows the difference because when I empathize I'm helping him interpret his feelings, and not all feelings are equally "tragic."   I would never describe his feelings about a mis-cut sandwich as "devastated" because that's not what's going on. I would say he's "disappointed," and he gets it that it doesn't need to ruin our whole day.

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#25 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 09:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lizajane30 View Post

It sounds to me like he continues to scream because he doesn't feel heard, especially if you are turning off the TV (why do this?  what does it have to do with the issue at hand?) or leaving the room. When he begins to get upset, can you "translate" his screams for him by making empathy guesses:  "Oh, you sound really sad!  Are you upset because you didn't get what you wanted?  It sounds like you're disappointed that your breakfast wasn't the way you were expecting.  It can be really disappointing when we think we're going to get something and it doesn't happen.  Do you want to tell me what you'd like me to do differently next time?"  I'm not saying that you have to bring him a new breakfast or do over whatever was done wrong.  But you can let him know that you hear his disappointment and would like him to let you know how it could be better next time.  

 

I don't think this is unreasonable behavior for a 4.5yo.  Strong emotions are hard to control and express in a constructive way at any age--when someone makes you really mad, it's hard not to raise your voice or use hurtful words.  It's hard to instead be vulnerable and admit to being hurt. 

 

My son is just about a month older than yours, and we deal with this sort of situation all the time.   They're still young, still learning how to navigate in a world where they often don't have power or choice!  The only difference is, my son doesn't need to escalate his behavior because rather than seeing it as a power struggle or thinking of him as being manipulative, I make sure I've heard clearly what the upset is about, and give him the tools to express himself in a different way.

 

I see a lot of PPs have advised not "giving in" to the tantrum.  In my experience, this only makes a stressful situation worse.  Basically you're telling an upset child that you don't care about what they're crying about, that their feelings and needs are less important than your need to "control" your child's behavior.  I don't see my methods as "giving in."  I see them as working together to meet everyone's needs so we can all be less stressed and have a better time of it.

 

If we model compassion and understanding, they WILL get it someday.


Yeah....what she said.  :-)

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#26 of 86 Old 11-18-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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Her son has turned into a little tyrant and you want her to "baby" him some more? No wonder AP parents get bad raps!

She is doing no one a favor by encouraging him to act this way.


Wow--you really misunderstood my words!  To be clear: I never said to "baby" him;  I suggested she empathize with his feelings.  The two things are truly not related.  I didn't suggest that she should encourage the behavior; I said that she could "translate" it for him into words that are more acceptable.

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#27 of 86 Old 11-19-2010, 03:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by lizajane30 View Post

 

ETA: In response to GoBecGo, it has never taken me even NEAR 50 minutes to empathize with my kids about anything, whether it's an improperly cut sandwich or something major.  Empathy takes much less time than a full-blown tantrum, that's for sure!  I also don't believe that kids need us to teach them a scale of severity when it comes to their own feelings by ignoring them if they don't fit our personal estimation of being worth the time it takes to consider them; I think they get it, especially if you help them by empathizing.  My son knows the difference because when I empathize I'm helping him interpret his feelings, and not all feelings are equally "tragic."   I would never describe his feelings about a mis-cut sandwich as "devastated" because that's not what's going on. I would say he's "disappointed," and he gets it that it doesn't need to ruin our whole day.


Yes, i wasn't referring to you, i was referring to me.  MY child WILL continue to tantrum and dramatise for 50mins if you sit down to empathise with her.  MY child DOES escalate as far as she can during a tantrum if you sit and engage with her, it's like she sees it as a contest "I am angry!" "i hear and see that you are angry!" "no, i am REALLY ANGRY" "i'm so sorry, i see that, i see how angry and frustrated you are" "NO you don't understand, i am SO SO FURIOUS AND SO ANGRY I WILL BREAK THIS TOY" "i'm so sorry, you're so angry you lashed out, you must be feeling terrible" "YOU HAVE NO IDEA, I AM HITTING YOU NOW!" and so on.  You cannot empathise with a person who is determined to be feeling worse than you could ever understand.  She WILL describe devastation because her sandwich is mis-cut and she DOES blow things entirely out of proportion given half a chance.  She comes out with insane things (she once fell on the stairs and hurt her foot then ran into the room DH and i were in and told me DH just hit her on her foot!  She has also told me her friend told her "i will steal all your toys so you have nothing and then i will break them all" - this friend has developmental delay and was totally non-verbal at the time.  She's a story-teller, fiction writing is in the genes).   I have seen her get so upset she is gagging with her father, because it was raining and he offered her a different (waterproof) jacket than she wanted and he tried to empathise.  I guess your kid and my kid are very different.  My kid responds best to a very low key "yeah, that's a bit annoying, oh well, never mind" and disengagement.  I don't believe i am effectively CIOing her.  I believe i am parenting the child in front of me.

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#28 of 86 Old 11-19-2010, 05:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizajane30 View Post

ETA: In response to GoBecGo, it has never taken me even NEAR 50 minutes to empathize with my kids about anything, whether it's an improperly cut sandwich or something major.  Empathy takes much less time than a full-blown tantrum, that's for sure!  I also don't believe that kids need us to teach them a scale of severity when it comes to their own feelings by ignoring them if they don't fit our personal estimation of being worth the time it takes to consider them; I think they get it, especially if you help them by empathizing.  My son knows the difference because when I empathize I'm helping him interpret his feelings, and not all feelings are equally "tragic."   I would never describe his feelings about a mis-cut sandwich as "devastated" because that's not what's going on. I would say he's "disappointed," and he gets it that it doesn't need to ruin our whole day.


Not the OP, but I have been following this thread with interest because my DS (5) is an intense kid full of drama. He can easily ruin an entire morning or more and meltdown for hours. Even after the meltdown has passed, it can be re-triggered for another intense round. I can empathize. I can offer support. I can verbalize what he is feeling. And yet, he will carry on. Some kids are just that intense, even when perspective is modeled. :(

 

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Slow down the process and start with empathy, without going into reassurances that it's a simple fix.  If you're telling him that you can call back, that it's a simple fix, that once he calms down you'll dial--then you're not hearing his upset.  In fact you're basically telling him that his feelings aren't valid at all.  Give ONLY empathy, until he feels heard: "OH NO!  You really wanted to talk to Papa, and I hung up before you got to!  That's so disappointing!"  Repeat some version of this until he calms down.  There's no need to "fix" the problem until he's sure you heard him!  Once he's calm, you can ask if he'd like to hear some solutions--or if you think he's ready, simply say that you're willing to call back if he'd still like a chance to talk.

 

Of course, if this is a common scene you could avoid it by asking, before you hang up, if DS would like to talk with his dad.  Or check in with DS before you even call, so you can let DH know that when you're done DS would like to talk.


Most days recently I have felt like I was walking on eggshells to avoid a blowup. Maybe it is common sense to you, but it seems really un-intuitive and exhausting to me to check in with DS (and DD because she mirrors everything DS does) about every. single. thing.
 

 

 

LemonPie, I also share your goal, but how to do you get there? It feels like I repeat these phrases all day long with no changes in behavior. I need new tools.

• We do not hit. Hitting hurts. If you want what she has offer to trade or ask for a turn.

• I will not listen when you talk (i.e. scream or shrill whining) to me that way. Are you trying to ask for what you need?

• We do not complain. Ask for what you need/need to change.

• Spitting is gross. Do not spit. We don't spit when frustrated. I will listen when you want to talk.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonPie View Post

The OP mentions that he only does this at home, which indicates that he does have some degree of control over it.  I wouldn't expect it out of a 2 or 3 yo, but expecting a 5 (or almost 5) yo to express themselves with some degree of calmness and respect is not terrible or horrible.  I'm not talking about perfect, adult behavior.  But falling down screaming, thrashing, crying to the point of hyperventilation over something as simple as a breakfast request just doesn't fly in this household.  There are more people living here than just my 5 yo.  She is not allowed to make the home environment miserable for the other 4 people living here, period.  The behavior is modeled when I don't fly off the handle and yell back when she starts up with the drama and tantrums, or when I politely ask her to put her shoes away or take her dishes to the sink or to please stop making that noise or whatever. 

 

They're going to go out into the world an interact with playmates, classmates, peers, teachers, etc etc etc.  Frankly, I think NOT teaching them to word requests respectfully and calmly does them a huge disservice.  Again, I'm not saying that we need to expect perfect, adult behavior out of a 5 yo kid--rather working with them towards responsible, respectful adult behavior as a long-term goal.


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#29 of 86 Old 11-19-2010, 10:24 AM
 
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Yes, i wasn't referring to you, i was referring to me.  MY child WILL continue to tantrum and dramatise for 50mins if you sit down to empathise with her.  MY child DOES escalate as far as she can during a tantrum if you sit and engage with her, it's like she sees it as a contest. . .My kid responds best to a very low key "yeah, that's a bit annoying, oh well, never mind" and disengagement.  I don't believe i am effectively CIOing her.  I believe i am parenting the child in front of me.



Oh my goodness, did you give birth to my daughter's long lost twin?  Can I say that I empathize with YOU?  Ha ha.  But yes, this is exactly what will happen here.  If I engage, even slightly, my little drama-queen has an audience to perform for.  It sounds cold of me, but it's really what it is. I've caught her watching herself cry in the mirror.  Case in point:  One night she was unhappy at bedtime and in the throes of a full-fledged tantrum (because she had to sleep in her own bed and not in her brother's room).  DH went in to sit with her and try to get her calm.  You'd have thought there was a massacre going on in her bedroom the way she was carrying on.  I finally went in and asked him to just step out and disengage, which he did.  The tantrum was over in under two minutes. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeekingJoy View Post

I have been following this thread with interest because my DS (5) is an intense kid full of drama. He can easily ruin an entire morning or more and meltdown for hours. Even after the meltdown has passed, it can be re-triggered for another intense round. I can empathize. I can offer support. I can verbalize what he is feeling. And yet, he will carry on. Some kids are just that intense, even when perspective is modeled. :(


. . .


LemonPie, I also share your goal, but how to do you get there? It feels like I repeat these phrases all day long with no changes in behavior. I need new tools.

• We do not hit. Hitting hurts. If you want what she has offer to trade or ask for a turn.

• I will not listen when you talk (i.e. scream or shrill whining) to me that way. Are you trying to ask for what you need?

• We do not complain. Ask for what you need/need to change.

• Spitting is gross. Do not spit. We don't spit when frustrated. I will listen when you want to talk.

 

(bolding mine.  It won't let me respond outside this quote.  I think I'm having Firefox issues with this new format.)

 

Honestly, what has worked here is just a lot of consistency and some maturing on her part.  As I said in an earlier post, if she starts to tantrum, she just goes to her room, period, and I sometimes have to put her back a few times.  If she can't ask nicely for what she wants, she just doesn't get it.  Usually after she refuses to phrase her request politely and I refuse to give her what she's asking for as a result, a tantrum ensues and so she just goes to her room.  She tantrums for a while, calms down, then comes out and we cuddle and talk for a bit. 

 

This makes it sound like she spends a lot of time in her room, which is not the case.  I wouldn't even say that happens every day or every other day.  80% of the time she's delightful--sweet, polite, helpful, loving.  But catch her in a bad mood and watch out--it's like she can put a black cloud over the entire household.  It seems to go in cycles and we'll have weeks where there are very few problems and then weeks where I feel like I'm going to tear my hair out. 

 

Now that I've been more consistent, sometimes a warning nips it in the bud.  For example, we were out somewhere as a family and she started huffing and sighing and whining.  I said, "You're not going to ruin this for everybody.  If you continue, you and I will go sit in the car while everyone else stays behind and has fun.  Your choice."  She chose to stop the tantrum and enjoy herself.  Sometimes just a calm , "Oh I'm sorry you're unhappy about that" and ignoring her huffing/pouting for a bit will stop it in it's tracks.

 

As for hitting/spitting--I consider those types of things a more serious 'offense'.  If one of my kids hits/kicks/bites/etc. they lose something important to them for a while.  I suppose some might call it punishment, but I can't think of a 'natural consequence' for physical abuse, and it just needs to stop IMMEDIATELY.  So if any of my kids do it, they lose something that stings a little.  My older son recently lost the Wii for over a week after shoving my 2 yo DD.  My middle daughter lost a sleepover at Grandma's for biting a while back.  It gets the point across. 


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#30 of 86 Old 11-19-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Just to keep things interesting, my DD responds best to a mix of the two ways of handling things. If she doesn't respond right away to suggestions for solutions, I can get her to share what she wants/needs by going away for a bit and then coming back and cuddling her for a bit and asking again. For whatever reason, she needs a minute or two of yelling about the universe before she can start expressing what's wrong with it, and that minute can't happen with me right there.

 

Of course, she's two, so I expect it'll change.

 

Anyway, OP, it seems like you've gotten a number of things to try, and hopefully one of them will let your ds have less frustrations in life.

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