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.
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.
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.