Every year I get older the kids stay roughly the same age.  So, when I was younger in the business the gap between the average 6 or 7 year old child and me was about 25 years.  Now…forget about it…you get the point.  The gap is hefty.

The reason I am mentioning an age gap is I am hearing more and more about kids having wild fits, excessive tantrums to the smallest bit of frustration and  I can’t help but wonder, “Is it me?”   Has it always been like this?   Did I have a higher tolerance for it when I was younger and now my nerves are more readily jangled by these stories or seeing them first hand?

I don’t think so.

My take is that things have changed, albeit incrementally over time, but like the frog who doesn’t know he is getting boiled in the pot as the heat rises a little at a time, he doesn’t notice the heat rising.

That’s what I think is happening to us with children – we are getting boiled by degrees.

We think it’s normal when a child throws herself on the ground, flailing away after being asked to clean off her dishes (when she wanted to be playing on her iPad instead).

Or the boy who slammed his fists down, running out screaming, “I hate your stupid guts” to his mother whose mother told him it was time to get off of Xbox and begin doing his homework.

Parents will seek guidance on how to handle such meltdowns.  In the back of their mind is the ever-present seed that typically gets planted regarding medication.  They will repeatedly hear from the school, “We’re not doctors, but maybe you should talk to your pediatrician or neurologist.”  (That is, get your child on medication.)

I often go in opposite directions (no surprise to anyone who has followed this blog for a while).

I believe parents need to practice a skill that seems easy on the surface, but in reality is very difficult to do – the skill of “matter-of-fact parenting (MOFP)”

With MOFP there are built-in, natural consequences to most situations.  Largely the consequences are not all that heavy-handed, yet they make their point.

For example, a child who is overly aggressive in the pool, is swiftly removed and given 10 minutes to sit quietly off to the side.  The parent must be vigilant, but each time there is a hint of aggression, the child is removed.  Not fun, but the training is worth it in the long run.

With matter-of fact parenting there are a few things taking place that I will list:

  • The child knows before an event/situation the cost of breaking a rule or crossing a boundary.
  • There is an objective tone that parents convey – it’s black or white. You do X then all is fine.  You do Y (the behavior of concern), then there is an immediate cost.
  • There is little to no yelling or haranguing on the parents’ part.
  • After the meltdown the child must do what was being asked.
  • The parents are clear, vigilant and decisive.

Parents often believe that they are doing this type of  thing with their children more than the reality.

The reality usually is that the behaviors of concern are allowed to go on far too long and that there is a lot more yelling, haranguing and threatening from the parents.  The child senses the weakness, the wiggle room and goes in for the kill with the full blown meltdowns designed to do one thing – get him/her off the hook.

Kids will do anything to avoid pain.  For them melting down for ten minutes is better than the pain of starting  homework or cleaning off the dishes.

Takeaway Point

Start practicing Matter-of-Fact Parenting.  Lay out the choices an let the child make them.  If he/she chooses poorly, so be it.  There should be a natural, built in consequence that has impact.

Copyright, 2019 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com

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