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Monthly Archives: October 2015

We had a huge crowd of parents who took time out of their work day to come and talk about how to manage their child’s anger. Sharon Williams, LCSW, one of the therapists helping with the workshop found this great story about managing outbursts in public. I got a chuckle from it and it also gives some valuable strategies for parents.

I hope you enjoy it as well and thanks to Sharon for finding this gem.
Cathi


We’ve all seen it. A child is in the grocery store, crying about a piece of candy, or other treat that they want and are not allowed to have. Perhaps you gave the mom a sympathetic look. Perhaps you wondered why Mom wasn’t doing anything about their annoying kid. If that annoying kid happens to be yours, you probably felt that flush of embarrassment and frustration that accompanies every public tantrum. In this fun story below, a man notices a mom handle her fussy daughter with such grace, he is compelled to follow them.

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three-year-old girl in her cart. As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies and when her mother told her “no,” the little girl immediately began to whine and fuss. The mother said quietly, “Now Monica, we just have half of the aisles left to go through- don’t be upset. It won’t be long now.”

Soon, they came to the candy aisle and the girl began to shout for candy. When told she couldn’t have any, she began to cry. The mother said, “There, there, Monica. Don’t cry. Only two more aisles to go and we’ll be checking out.”

When they got to the checkout stand, the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there’d be no gum purchased. The mother said serenely, “Monica, we’ll be through this checkout stand in 5 minutes. Then you can go home and have a nice nap.”

The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. “I couldn’t help noticing how patient you were with little Monica,” he began. The mother replied, “I”m Monica. My little girl’s name is Tammy.”

Anyone who has had children knows that tantrums are just a part of toddler growing pains. They are developing complex emotions but don’t yet have the words to express them. Moreover, they are becoming aware of themselves as individuals and are struggling to exercise that individualism by attempting to control various aspects of their lives. This manifests in tantrums over… just about anything. Unfortunately, knowing the psychological and developmental reasons behind the epic meltdown your toddler is having in the middle of a store does nothing to help you deal with it. Different parenting philosophies may suggest different tactics, but there is universal agreement that the best thing a parent can do is to remain calm. I loved this story because Monica’s words sound so familiar to my own internal monologue when my darling daughter is being less than darling. (I’ve also been known to pop a piece of chocolate if I can get away with it.)

Once you have managed to stay calm in the face of a screaming child, there are many ways to deal with the public tantrum itself.

  1. Prevention. Children have a much harder time regulating their emotions if they are tired or hungry. If at all possible, schedule errands around naps. Consistent bedtimes can also help prevent chronic fatigue, which sometimes manifests as hyperactivity. Always carry a healthy snack that you can offer your child, especially if you know you will be out for more than a few hours. In some cases, a child may have a food allergy that causes irritability. If you suspect this is the case, consult your pediatrician.
  2. Preparation. Most children do better if they know what to expect. Rather than gathering up your toddler and hoping everything will go smoothly, try explaining what is going to happen and what you expect from her. Let her know that you are going to the store, but that you will not be purchasing toys. Repeat the expectations for her behavior on the way to the store as well. If possible, give her an age appropriate job to do. For example, she can put produce into bags as you select them, or cross items off a shopping list. Having a task will keep her busy while also conveying confidence in her abilities.
  3. Resolve. Whether you decide to ignore the tantrum or address it, it’s important to remain consistent. If you give in to the tears, your child will believe that crying can sometimes be an effective (and appropriate) means to get what they want. If you plan to buy her a special treat that day, let her know in advance.

Posted in Anger Management, Communication, Parenting | Comments off

In this article in Psychology Today, “Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges“, Peter Gray, PhD discusses how we’ve raised a generation of “Young people, 18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it.”

There is a bit of a mixed message communicated to parents of college bound children by our educational system.  ”Stop coddling” “Allow your child to fail” “Teach your child to solve their own problems”  while at the same time perpetuating the idea that a child will not get into a “good” college without perfect test scores, a solid 4.0 average, and a college resume replete with superior extra curricular activities.  How is a parent suppose to respond to these pressures? By allowing their child to fail? To let them figure it out by themselves?   I don’t think so.

In the minds of many parents, there is way too much for their child to lose to risk getting it wrong.  Parents feel they have failed if they aren’t able to smooth the path for their child to get into a good college.  This is a long, arduous, and highly competitive path. And, it is a rare parent that has the wherewithal to think beyond high school and reflect on whether their child will have the tools and emotional resilience to cope on their own once they get to their dream school.  If failure and struggle are to be “normalized” and “growth is to be achieved by striking the right balance between support and challenge” then maybe we can hear more about colleges and universities being less focused on GPAs and test scores and more willing to accept and encourage those high school students who demonstrate a willingness to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.

Posted in Parenting, Resiliency | Comments off