3-4 YEARS OLD When your child’s mis­be­hav­ior drives you nuts, these tips will help you keep your tem­per in check.

If you’re at the end of your tether over your preschooler’s “bad” be­hav­iour, take a deep breath and read DR RICHARD C. WOOLF­SON’s tips for man­ag­ing your anger.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - Contents -

Your three-year-old’s mis­be­haviour can drive you nuts. When she’s go­ing through one of those phases in which she is un­co­op­er­a­tive, doesn’t do what she’s told, and gets up to mis­chief no mat­ter how many times you warn her, you might strug­gle to keep your tem­per in check.

But scream­ing at her just makes mat­ters worse. That’s usu­ally like pour­ing petrol on fire, be­cause all that hap­pens is ten­sion mounts, dis­agree­ments es­ca­late, and ev­ery­one feels even worse than they did be­fore. It is far bet­ter to avoid such emo­tional ex­plo­sions al­to­gether, if you can.

The next time you feel your­self about to lose it, try one of these strate­gies to keep calm and par­ent on.

Re­mem­ber, she is just a child

When you spend all day in the com­pany of your preschooler, it’s easy to for­get that she is just a lit­tle kid who wants to have fun, rather than a wil­ful ter­ror who is de­lib­er­ately try­ing to up­set you. Keep things in per­spec­tive.

Lower your ex­pec­ta­tions

Chil­dren this age like to ex­plore, ex­per­i­ment, and test the lim­its – that’s nor­mal be­hav­iour. So, don’t ex­pect too much from her or you will set your­self up for dis­ap­point­ment. Even the best-be­haved child gets up to mis­chief some­times.

Think pos­i­tive thoughts

When you are stressed by your child’s mis­be­haviour, it’s only nat­u­ral that you start to think neg­a­tively about her. In­stead, try to fo­cus on her pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics and re­mind your­self of the good times you have to­gether.

Use dis­trac­tions

One way to break the ten­sion that’s build­ing up is to turn her to an­other ac­tiv­ity. So, in­stead of shout­ing at her for not do­ing what you ask, sim­ply en­gage her in some­thing else al­to­gether. That strat­egy di­rects you both away from the source of con­flict.

Ex­plain your frus­tra­tion

Rather than let­ting your neg­a­tive feel­ings build up un­til you can con­tain them no longer, tell your child what you feel. Let her know: “The way you are be­hav­ing is mak­ing me up­set, so I’d like you to do as I ask.”

Walk out of the room

Some­times, walk­ing away is the best way to con­trol your tem­per. Go to an­other room and try to re­gain con­trol over your emo­tions (but make sure that she is safe on her own). Af­ter five or 10 min­utes, you are likely to feel calmer and ready to face her again.

Plan your strat­egy

Be­fore your kid mis­be­haves, think about how you could man­age her when she isn’t co­op­er­a­tive – for ex­am­ple, warn­ing her, re­mov­ing her from the source of an­noy­ance or dis­tract­ing her. This way, you know ex­actly what to do when she is mis­chievous.

Use pos­i­tive lan­guage

You may be able to defuse a con­fronta­tion ver­bally by speak­ing pos­i­tively to her – for ex­am­ple, “I am get­ting an­gry with you. I know you don’t want that to hap­pen be­cause you are such a kind child.”

Ask for sup­port

There is noth­ing wrong with ad­mit­ting that you are close to a melt­down and that you need help. If you are hav­ing a bad day with your child, and your spouse isn’t avail­able, ask a friend or rel­a­tive to come round to give you a break.

Chil­dren this age like to ex­plore, ex­per­i­ment, and test the lim­its – that’s nor­mal be­hav­iour. So, don’t ex­pect too much from her or you will set your­self up for dis­ap­point­ment.

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