My friends are always telling me that my husband and I should write a book on how to raise happy, polite and well~adjusted children. I tend to laugh and just sorta shrug it off because, well, there really isn’t much to tell. The book would consist of one sentence that my husband and I have stressed over the years: “Control your temper.”
Think about it, when you see a kid acting out, what are they doing? Usually falling on the floor, yelling, kicking, screaming, crying or having some sort of a meltdown, right? And it usually starts over the word “No.” Kids hate that word because it denies them something they want. Well, tough cookies, kid, life sucks and you’re not always gonna get everything you want…
When my kids were little and I’d take them shopping with me, I used to give them the following speech before we’d get out of the car:
Do not touch anything. Do not ask for anything. If I buy you something it’s because I want to and not because you’ve asked me to. If you embarrass me, I will embarrass you.
I said this from the time they were little babies until my youngest was about 5 years old. I also used to make them hold hands and walk two by two in the store (I had four little kids and there was no way in the world I was gonna be running around the store chasing after them). It wasn’t the words that I spoke that meant much to them, it was the promise behind those words…
My kids knew if they acted up or showed out I would snap them back to reality. Remember Bernie Mac’s standard response: “I will beat you ’til the white meat shows”? No, I didn’t beat my kids but I did swat that heiny every now and then. I didn’t tolerate yelling, kicking or screaming. I didn’t accept that children have to ask for (and receive) something every time they set foot in the store. Yes, hearing “No” hurt their little feelings but, you know what? I didn’t care. Life is full of “No” and kids have to learn to accept it. They simply cannot have (nor should they get) everything they see/want/smell…
Now back to controlling their tempers… Yes, my kids would get angry and, yes, they would cry but the one thing they didn’t do was fall out on the floor (nor did they ever yell “I hate you!” or hit me). Why didn’t they fall out? Because they knew I’d yank them up just as quickly as they went down. I don’t believe in ignoring tantrums, I believe in dealing with them quickly and effectively.
You see, if your children don’t learn to control their tempers when they’re young, it just increases in intensity as they get older. Now when your little two~year~old is swatting at you it doesn’t hurt but when your twelve~year~old is hurling punches at you? Yeah, that hurts. But it’ll hurt even more when Little Johnny gets himself arrested because he got into a fight at school…
I’m not telling you to teach your child to hold in their anger, what I am saying is that you have to teach your child to control their impulses and you do this by:
- Not allowing temper tantrums in the first place ~ even two~year~olds can learn anger management
- Establishing that screaming is unacceptable ~ no one that you support should EVER yell “I hate you” to you
- Letting your child know that you are the parent ~ you are not his or her friend, Parent Up
- Setting and following through with consequences ~ don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep
I’m not saying my kids are perfect but I will say this, they knew how to act when they were younger and I now have four teens in my house and have yet to hear a door slam.
How do you handle your child’s temper?