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dealing with 'talking back' & tantrums......

1287 Views 20 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  Konur's Mom
My wonderful, imaginative almost 3.5 year old is entering into a new world in which her relizes that what I say isn't the only 'option' so to speak. And does not heistate to tell me what he thinks.....which results in what alot of mainstreamers would consider 'talking back' (I hate that phrase) and 'definence' UGH!

For example - I will tell him to do something "Ethan, put your shoes on please" and he will say one of the following ' "I don't want to" or "I don't have to" or "This is my own way of doing it - I don't need to wear shoes" or sometimes more creative responses of "dinosaurs don't wear shoes"

I try, try, try to approach these situations (about 100xs a day) thoughtfully and respectfully - but it is driving me crazy
I just hear my mothers voice saying "Because I the mom that's why" and making him do what it is I want him to do - or need him to do.

Most of the time he is not saying these things in a 'sassy' way, but simply as a matter of fact statment that indeed he simply does not see a need for putting his shoes on at this time. *sigh*

What do I do? I want to create an environment where his opinions are respected and heard - but one that also teachs him that he can't always have his way, and although he has good arguments against xy&z we need to do it anyway (because I said so

Same with temper tantrums - I want him to have an outlet for his emotions, I would hate to tell him he is not 'allowed' to feel angry, hurt, sad....ect....but I am at a total loss for teaching him how to appropriatly express his emotions w/out making mine go crazy in the mean time.......

I've gotta say this GD is sooooo hard for me and eveyone who seems my 'tactis' things I am a major softie...... I grew up in a 'do as I say, don't show your emotions" kind of home complete with yelling and hitting, and somedays that is all I can see - and I feel myself starting to slip.....
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With regard to the shoes....

I believe in giving my children choice in everything they do. There is always choice.

If you need him to get his shoes on, you could try:
Do you want to put your shoes on here or over there?
Do you want mom to put your left shoe on first or the right?
Do you want your shoes on now, or when I'm done counting to 10?
It allows him to feel like he has chocie & some power over the situation.

If you still have disagreement:
I have used things like:
Would you like to put your shoes on by choice or by force?
ALMOST every time I've given that option, they choose choice. Occasionally they've chosen force, but quickly realize, I'm going to follow through and I sit them down & put the shoes on against their will.

As for the tantrums, I just sit by and offer a safe place for them to come when they feel ready. My oldest especially needs a few minutes alone and I just say, "If you'd like, I'll give you a hug" or "I'm over here, tell me if you need something". Usually within a few minutes he'll ask for me to hold him. I let him have his tantrum in a safe manner for him, myself & his brother.

Hope you find some helpful suggestions.
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Yeah, what she said!

I think L.J. gave great suggestions. Sometimes I can tell my DD to do something (like put on shoes) but most times I either have to give her the benign choice (right or left shoe first) or I have to give her an "when...then"situation. "When you put your shoes on, then we can leave" (of course that only works if you have flexibility or the outing is solely for the kid's benefit, not yours).

The other thing that my DD understands is the term "non-negotiable". I wouldn't use that for the shoe issue but I have used it when it comes to a safety issue (holding hands in a parking lot) and most recently, for potty. I will tell my DD that she needs to use the potty before we leave the house and when she tells me she doesn't want to, I tell her it's non-negotiable. I use this term ONLY for safety and potty, though because I want her to feel empowered.
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Guess I should have been more clear - we do do the whole choices song and dance - and it used to work like a charm. Now my only response to choice A or B is 'how about C' not working so good anymore. But keep them coming....any suggesting is worth trying!
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:LOL "Dinosaurs don't wear shoes." I love that!

How about joining in the role-playing? Maybe something like, "You're right - dinosaurs don't wear shoes! But superheroes <or insert other favorite imagination play figure here> do! I feel like a superhero! Do you want to be a superhero and fly to the car with me?"

If that doesn't work, maybe compromise with him. "Hey, no problem, you don't have to wear your shoes out to the car but we need to put them on before we go to the store."

Otherwise, do you live in a place where he can (somewhat) safely walk without shoes? If that's the case, maybe let him experience going without shoes and just bring them along. He might end up deciding that shoes actually are a good idea... or he might just like going shoeless for awhile, at least until it gets cold. Sometimes experience is the best teacher.

I know shoes aren't the only issue that you're having, but I think the above can be applied to many situations. I've found that seeking out a compromise (where ds actually has real input into the final solution, not just a choice between two options, neither of which he finds particularly desirable) goes a long way - as does the whole joining in the game bit. Yeah, sometimes it means I end up going out with a towel around my neck in cape-like fashion, but that can be kind of fun

Another tip that I've come upon a few times (maybe on these boards?) is to offer three reasons why something needs to be the way that it is. If you think about it, our directions likely seem quite arbitrary to little ones who don't have our understanding of the world. If you can offer them plenty of legitimate reasons for something, then it might seem a little less so. With the shoes, for instance: "You really need to wear shoes because a) it's cold outside and shoes help to keep your feet warm, b) there are things on the ground like glass and rocks that could hurt your feet very badly and the shoes will protect you, and c) the (destination) has a rule that people are not allowed to go in without shoes."

As for the tantrums, I think L.J. gave great advice. A "workable" method of dealing with tantrums is so specific to the individual child, IMO. Some children like their parents to give voice to their feelings, some kids like to be held and rocked, some kids (like my ds) prefer to be reminded that you're there for them and then just left alone (figuratively, of course, not literally). In our case, it took a lot of exploration (in other words, a lot of ds getting incredibly frustrated with me, and I with him) to figure out what fits. What's important is to keep them (and yourself) safe and not to quell the necessary release of emotion.

You sound like such a caring, thoughtful, patient mama... your ds is very lucky.
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It's great to read these suggestions.

Dd's favourite response at the moment is "Oh, but I"m not allowed to (x/y/z)"

Me: "Why not?"

Dd: "Oh, because it's against the rules."


I tell myself it's just another phase..................
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Originally posted by Dragonfly
[ "Hey, no problem, you don't have to wear your shoes out to the car but we need to put them on before we go to the store."

We do this a lot....with shoes AND clothes. She's not a dinosaur....but she's Mowgli, and Mowgli doesn't wear shoes or clothes either

We live in a warm climate, so when I am in a hurry I approach her ONCE about getting dressed. If she resists, I throw the outfit in a backpack and it is into the car we go. If I know that we are parked in the sun, and the carseat will be hot, I explain that and she willingly gets dressed.
When we get to our destination, I have to do the "when you get dressed, then we can go into the______". This always works when we are in the parking lot outside the mall/library/playground/etc, but usually does not work at home as a method of getting her into the car fully dressed. At 2.5, I think she has to SEE the destination in order to be persuaded.

About being a softie....this is my thought....
My dd leaves the house without shoes on 99% of the time...and without clothing about 30% of the time. But she leaves the house happy, and so do I, and we get where we need to be, and we get there on time, and she is happily dressed when we get there. And she is an incredibly spirited 2.5 yo. That is not soft....that is smart. Smart parents choose their battles carefully (as Lovebeads mentioned...."nonnegotiable" has a place in the vocabulary), but shoes IMO are just not a worthy topic to battle.
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We also go out in various stages of being dressed quite often. And honestly, there are plenty of situations where he doesn't *really* need his shoes on. For instance, he doesn't need to wear shoes when we pick his brother up from school, but then when we get there he also doesn't get to get out of the car and play on the swings, because -- well, he's not wearing shoes!

We *often* just take a pair of sandals along with us for "just in case."

It might sometimes be helpful to take 3 minutes and play out the various options aloud with him. "Oh, so lets see... we have 2 ideas here. My idea is that you wear shoes. What would happen if you wore shoes? You would be allowed to go into the store. You would be able to slide down the slide without hurting your feet. And nobody would notice any stinky foot smells! Now lets do your idea. Your idea is not to wear shoes. What might happen if you don't wear shoes?"
And Let him participate in the preditions.
I keep 3 pair of shoes in my car at all times. One for me and one for each kid. I don't like wearing shoes either.

It is important to question. What would it hurt for him/her not to wear shoes? Are there rules prohibiting bare feet? What if child went without shoes and if someone says something in the store or whatever, you just go and get the shoes from the car.

Keep talking. Offer choices and ask the child for input. An agreement is there, you just haven't found it yet. Keep communicating and if a rule is just an arbitrary rule, drop it!
Another thing that works for us is slippers- we try to find ones with harder soles, but they do just wear the ones with leather bottoms all over too.

I think this works well for a couple reasons- I do think that little kid shoes are just not comfortable- most are poorly made and they are ether new and in the breaking in stage and as soon as that is over it seems like they are getting to small because thier feet grow so fast.

And they are easier for kids to put on. I think that we under estimate the work that goes into a 3 year putting on his own shoes- I mean I will usually pick slip on if I have the choice, but I don't usually buy them for my kids because they fall and trip alot more in them. And I think that as they get older even though they would rather you put on those shoes that take so much work, they also really like being able to take care of themselves easily.
Originally posted by Mallory
And they are easier for kids to put on. I think that we under estimate the work that goes into a 3 year putting on his own shoes.
Wait, let me get this straight: your 3 year old can put on his own shoes?!!!!
My 3.5 yo carries his shoes to the car whenever he won't put them on, and yes he's fully capable of putting them on, not tying, all by himself, even his work boots. He even carried them into preschool today and carried them back to the car when we left. I'll buy him more socks, they're cheap.
I totally agree with sunmamma about being a softie. I don't really care how other people percieve me, as long as it's working for me.
J says" let's talk about it" if somethings important and he's feeling ambushed by me. And when I hear those words I know I need to get on his level, make physical contact and try to givein to him or explain myself better. He's figured out it works almost all the time. Sometimes he just needs to explain his position to me, and if I take that minute I realize my orders aren't as essential as I assume. We compromise a lot. I wouldn't order anybody else around, so I'm trying to let him teach me not to do it to him, simply because he's smaller than me. It is his body, he can choose most things to do with it.
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Guess I should have been more clear - we do do the whole choices song and dance - and it used to work like a charm. Now my only response to choice A or B is 'how about C' not working so good anymore.
Forgive me, I know I shouldn't giggle at your angst, but
! That is so my son to the tee, and now he's progressed to saying, "What? I didn't hear that." or, if I succumb to the internal pressure and start counting, he'll say, "Oh, you meant today " Yes, Son, I certainly did. So no real advice here, just lots of commiserating and interest in the other wonderful responses.
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I'm very interested in all the great responses too! I'm glad we're not the only ones with shoe issues,lol.
I've really appreciated this thread, too - sometimes you do worry about being a 'softie' - it's nice to come here and see my parenting choices validated for a change...along with getting some good ideas!

I hear you on the choices thing, though - if my 2 year old doesn't like her options, she gets this stubborn look on her face and says 'nothing!' when I ask her which of two (unacceptble to her!) choices she wants...what do you say to that?!
I think a lot of it has to do with being 3.5. It's like J is internally at disequilibrium. He wants to be more independant in so many things, but at the same time needs more of me to ground that independance and his timing has no correlation with how I expect him to act or behave. I guess what I'm trying to say is I think he's asking for closeness so he's comfortable doing things alone. The uncomfortable part for me is when he cries, fusses, whines...etc to get my attention or to demand he does it his way, on his timetable (NOW!!!). I'm really going out of my way to keep in mind what he's going through and to give him credit in a very nonenthusiastic way when he does accomplish what he's trying to. And it seems to help him if I explain what I'm trying to do, not what I expect him to do. Even when I think it' obvious what I'm trying to do.
When Konur, 2.5 yrs, doesnt want to get dressed, or go potty before we leave, I remain calm and tell him that if he does not want to go, he doesnt have to and that I will just go without him. I make is sound like where I am going I will have lots of fun and will miss him. It takes him about 2 minutes to realize I am not kidding and go potty and let me get him dressed. I wonder when he will call my bluff and tell me he wants to stay home alone? I also find that telling him ahead of time helps, too, but there are times when nothing seems to work and I get all frustrated. Its nice to know I am not alone.

My dh thinks that when I say to do something that Konur should do it immediately and even commented today that he was raised like that. I told him I found it hard to believe that he remembers what it was like to be 2 and a half and doubted he complied every time back then. Thinking about how he was raised, maybe he was forced to comply even then..... At least his son will not have that same treatment.
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Originally posted by Konur's Mom
I wonder when he will call my bluff and tell me he wants to stay home alone?
I had done this a few times with ds (out of sheer frustration) when this occurred to me. What would happen? I'd have to admit to him that I was not being truthful.... not a situation I want to be in with ds. So, I've changed it to, "I'm leaving in five minutes. You can go dressed or naked - which would you prefer?" He (usually) picks dressed. And if he picks naked... no skin off of my teeth, he'll just go naked (and I'll bring clothes, of course).
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true....what if it's cold though? Konur has no problem being nekked and trying o go outside? What if he just says that he doesn't want to go and its something that cannot wait?
Too bad there isn't a "chat" here! :LOL (I swear this is my last post before hitting the hay....)

My thinking is that if it's cold, then my ds will figure out pretty quickly that he'd like to have clothes on. He does that with shoes fairly regularly - will say he doesn't want shoes until we get outside and the pavement is hot or we get to the playground and the mulch is hurting his feet. So, I always bring them along and let him know that they'll be there for him when he's ready.

We've run into the situation more than a few times where ds just flat out doesn't want to go somewhere and there's just really no choice in the matter. In that case, what I usually do is figure out something he might enjoy that we can do somewhere along the way (stop at a playground when we're finished with the errand, maybe go to our favorite coffee shop and get a bagel) and suggest that to him. It usually inspires compromise. If there won't be enough time for that, I take a moment for a heart-to-heart and let him know that I understand he wants to stay home but that, unfortunately, there really is no option to not go - that I need his help to do this thing. He's still a bit young (almost 3), but he's starting to get that. It sometimes helps, too, if I suggest that he pick out some favorite toys to bring along with him or that he ride his tricycle or have a wagon ride up to the car.

I love your son's name, btw.
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