Watch how you use words in a child’s tantrum

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - ADVERTISIN­G FEATURE -

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.

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