Parents do various back flips to address meltdowns and school avoidance.

Mostly,  parental responses are reactive, delivered in the heat of the moment (e.g., “That’s it!!!  You’re not allowed on your iPad for the next two weeks,” after the child has rolled around on the floor,  not completing another homework assignment.)

I think of parent yelling as a “go-to” strategy.  (“Hey, we were yelled at as kids, so why not keep up the family tradition.”)

The thing about yelling is it largely doesn’t work.

When was the last time your child said after your yelling, “You’re right mom.  I need to take more responsibility for myself.”

Let’s take Sam, an 8 year old child who has a “soup pot” of different issues, frequently melting down over his homework.  “I hate writing,”  Sam screams.  “It’s so stupid…why do I have to do this ????!!!!! (while throwing his papers around in a full-blown rage).”

Based on a strategy we discussed, his mom, Beth, decides not to engage him with yelling, pecking or biting the bait,  as every time she does any of these they only serve to increase his raging meltdowns.

Instead, while Sam pulled out every reaction, trying to get out of doing his homework, Beth  just went about her business – zero reaction..

After about 10 minutes or so of being left alone at the dining room table with no input from his mother, Sam started to calm down, still sniveling and whimpering some, but no longer raging.

At some point when the whimpering had subsided, Beth spoke to Sam in very matter-of-fact tones, “Look, Sam,  I get it.  Writing is not fun and it’s hard for you and you get frustrated.  But, here’s the deal, even though you’re angry and frustrated,  you still need to finish your homework without banging on the table or rolling on the floor.  I can offer you some help, but there’s no screen time until you’re finished.  Let me know if you need any help.”

It may take time, but when left on their own to work it out, most of the Sam types will work through their anger  and come around when handled calmly and directly without threats.

Effectively, it’s Sam’s choice.  It’s up to him to decide.

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