Watch how you use words in a child’s tantrum
EVERY parent knows how exasperating it is when a child plays up and it’s so easy to lash out and say something rash.
At best, the words that roll out of our mouths are ineffective. At worst, they might be as childish as our darling offspring’s behaviour.
Now two psychiatrists have teamed up to help parents deal with tantrums and they’ve listed six common phrases parents should never utter when their buttons are being pressed.
They are: How many times have I told you not to do that; I’ve had it with you; Why don’t you listen; If you don’t turn that off now, no dessert tonight; Stop crying, you’re acting like a baby; Because I said so.
All of these responses are likely to only make things worse, according to Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright. In an interview with The
Independent, the psychiatrists explain that these phrases should be avoided because they suggest you’re not taking your child’s distress seriously.
And that could make communication even worse.
The psychiatrists, who have written a new book called Now Say This, say: “In difficult moments, it’s critical to resist our knee-jerk instincts to reprimand, speak sternly, isolate or in any way shut down communication.”
Instead they recommend a three-step approach called to dealing with your children behaving badly. They call it the “ALP model” – attune, limit set and problem solve.
Here’s how you can use it in a situation like your child having a meltdown because they don’t want to leave the toy shop or park.
First, you attune. Crouching down at child’s level, make eye contact with them.
With a kind tone, tell them you understand why they’re upset. Next, limit set by calmly explaining the situation.
They advise calmly explaining the situation to your child. Say something like, “we do have to leave now. It’s time to go pick up your sister.”
Then it’s time to problem solve. Try to mediate the situation by adding in some sort of compromise. “You can hold my hand and walk out with me while we sing a silly song.”
KEEP CALM: Your reaction can defuse a tough situation.