Coping with cringe-worthy meltdowns

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 20, 2009 02:56 AM

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I%20brake%20for%20meltdowns.jpgIt's something we all have to deal with as parents: At some point, often right around the 2-year mark, our sweet little toddlers morph from adorable cherubs to masters of the meltdown.

It's bad enough when you have to deal with massive temper tantrum at home, but when it happens in a public place, as it often does, it can be even worse. Parents can feel judged, frustrated, inept -- and furious.

Michelle Nicholasen of Somerville, Mass., an award-winning filmmaker for Nova and Frontline and the author of I Break for Meltdowns: How to Handle the Most Exasperating Behavior of Your 2- to 5-Year-Old, has plenty of experience with public meltdowns -- she has five kids under the age of 8, including a set of 5-year-old triplets. The worst incident, she says, took place at a Mexican restaurant in Connecticut, during a long road trip.

"After being cooped up in a minivan for six hours, my kids came unhinged," she told me in an e-mail interview. "One of my daughters took an ornament off the Christmas tree and smashed it. Another one got annoyed with her food and crawled under the table and wouldn’t come out. My oldest daughter, I think 5 at the time, got into an argument with her grandfather and defiantly poured her drink on to the middle of the floor. I will never go back there."

In her book, Nicholasen and Barbara O'Neal, the Educational Director of Arlington Children Center in Arlington, Mass., share their wisdom on what to do in the most cringe-worthy situations. Nicholasen sat down with me recently (at our respective computers) to chat via e-mail about her book, her blog, and how parents can handle the behavioral challenges young kids often present. (You can find the full interview at Write. Edit. Repeat.)

"As parents, we are much more self-conscious about being judged when our child is misbehaving in public," she says. "The things that go through our minds are: Am I raising my child to be a wild animal? Have I not taught him enough manners? My child is acting like a little brat; what am I doing wrong? But even when you do your best, sometimes a collapse will still happen."

Nicholasen suggests a few coping strategies for parents who find themselves facing a screaming sweetie in public:

1.) Find the humor in it. "Imagine a grown-up acting like your child, and you will soon have to stifle a smile."

2.) Take the pressure off of yourself. "Assuming you’ve done your best to prepare our child for the trip, take the pressure off yourself -- this tantrum it not necessarily a reflection of your parenting skills," Nicholasen points out. "Do you know what is, though? How you react to it."

3.) Don't escalate the situation. "Parents can make tantrums much worse by yelling at their child to stop, or by threatening them. The behavior just gets worse. The other hard thing to do is not give in. Once you've set a reasonable boundary (ie, no candy at check out), don't renege just to quiet her down. If you do, she has just learned that her tantrum works. Best to scoop up your tyke and take her to a place where she can calm down without being disruptive to others," she advises. "Is it a drag for the parent? Oh yes, and tiring, too. But wait out the storm and it will pass."

Parents, what was your worst meltdown experience? How did you deal with it?

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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18 comments so far...
  1. Five kids under the age of 8- and there is any wonder the Nicholasen has so much experience with meltdowns?
    Give kids the benefit of parental attention and you may not have so many meltdowns. 5 kids is too many. Our current culture is not like the farm days of old; children need a lot more parenting, and we don't need so many offspring.

    With all due respect, Mary, while you may not be able to manage with five children, other people are well suited for the challenge. Let's leave the judgement out of it, and discuss the issue at hand, which is dealing with kids and their meltdowns. If you have anything constructive to contribute to the discussion, I'd love to read it. -- LMA

    Posted by Mary February 20, 09 08:30 AM
  1. I never tolerated melt downs-at home or outside the home.
    I have left more carriages of food in the middle of the grocery aisle to remove the unruly toddler. They catch on quick.
    Just don't react to the melt down other than removing them from public places as to not disturb others.
    At home--standing in the corner worked when time outs started to be less effective.
    Now that they are teens--their melt downs result in priveleges being taken away (cell phone/computer time/xbox time--restrictions from friends coming over).
    It is hard as you really want to have your own melt down...but I would usually just turn my radio up and ignore them until they calmed down...

    Posted by triedbuttrue February 20, 09 08:33 AM
  1. One of the first things you can do is practice some prevention. As you mentioned in the article, six hours in a minivan is asking for trouble. When I take the kids, even a couple hours to Maine on the weekends, I always take a break about half way and run 'em. They have so much more energy than we do, it needs to be burnt off at regular intervals or it will find a way out at the restaurant or worse. We have to be smarter about that as parents and really make an effort to understand your kids motivation and what they "need" as kids, v. what we need as parents.

    And absolutely, turn around and leave the store or the restaurant if that's what it takes, but never let a no turn into a maybe or a yes. Once you do, you've lost.
    hippydippy

    Posted by hippydippy February 20, 09 08:52 AM
  1. Each of my two daughters went through the "let's see if a tantrum gets me anything" phase.

    Since we made it a point that they will never get what they ask for if they throw a tantrum (nor do they get extra hugs, kisses, attention, etc.) the behaviour stopped pretty quickly.

    With kids that age, you get the behaviours you reward. Show me a kid who throws lots of tantrums and I see a kid who gets rewarded for throwing one.

    Posted by HBx February 20, 09 11:04 AM
  1. can't really have your kids in a car for 6 hours straight and expect them to not go nuts in a public restaurant...

    Posted by me February 20, 09 12:24 PM
  1. ME - Sometimes a 6 hour car ride can't be helped - Think winter - bad weather.

    Very true! -- LMA

    Posted by Jules February 20, 09 12:36 PM
  1. I agree with Mary. Five kids is far too many. What was the author thinking?!

    As I wrote earlier: Let's leave the judgement out of it, and discuss the issue at hand, which is dealing with kids and their meltdowns. If you have anything constructive to contribute to the discussion, I'd love to read it. -- LMA

    Posted by Situation February 20, 09 12:42 PM
  1. Mary just got owned. You make great points, Lylah. I love reading your blogs and I'm a 20 year-old with no kids! Keep up the great work!!

    Posted by Sam February 20, 09 01:36 PM
  1. Not only are the comments about the quantity of kids way off topic, kids these days have too much parental attention, which I believe contributes to this type of behavior. Parents coddle their children and emotions rather than empowering them to solve their problems and express their emotions.

    I've seen just as many tantrums from single (or double) child families, if not more. The larger the family, the more independent and self-reliant children have to become.

    That said although all kids are different, we've found one simple solution. We scoop the child up, and leave where ever we are. Restaurants, parks, museums, grocery stores, etc. Kids learn quickly.

    I hate seeing parents trying to negotiate with out of control toddlers when out public.

    P.S. - I would have 10 kid if I could afford them!

    Posted by Mike February 20, 09 01:51 PM
  1. I am the oldest of 5 children. I was born in 1971 and the youngest in 1977. Our parents gave us all of the attention in the world but we still had our meltdowns once in a while. They were few and far between because my parents were also strict disciplinarians who would quickly shut the "meltdown" down. I have 3 kids myself, the oldest 7 and the twins 4. Before we go out, my husband and I give them the "speech" about proper behavior and what the consequences will be if they act up. We also know that we shouldn't take them out past 7pm unless it's absolutely necessary. It's too close to their bed time and the more tired they are the more wired they act. On long car rides, you have to be willing to stop and let them out of their seats for a few minutes every once in a while. We were lucky that our kids were very well behaved during the long car trip from Canada to Boston. They didn't even complain when we were stuck in traffic. I also agree with Sam: Mary got owned.

    Posted by One of Five February 20, 09 01:57 PM
  1. If you leave the carriage of food in the grocery store or leave the restaurant, don't the kids get exactly what they want...more attention?? Won't they be more prone to tantrums when they see a response that gets them what they want? I can see not wanting to bother other people in a restaurant...I've taken kids out side for a "break" when at a restaurant...but in a grocery store. Do any of the other shoppers really care if your kid is screaming in a crowded Stop & Shop? And while we are discussing that, aren't we better served with one or two full out tantrums at the grocery store until they learn that nothing is gained, as opposed to weekly ones which get what they want?

    As for 5 kids, to each his own. Who are we to judge how many is OK? There are plenty of childless people who think 2 is too many! I know that I could not raise 5, but then again, I cannot climb Everest, but I don't ridicule those who can or choose to. I suspect climbing Everest is easier! :)

    Posted by bv February 20, 09 02:05 PM
  1. As a single female foster parent (take that Ann Coulter!) I regularly have children with behavioral issues. From minor to all out hsyteria I've dealt with meltdowns in church, stores, playground, car, and family events. foster kids have a hard time "unlearning" negative behaviours and correcting does get wearisome.

    i'm so encouraged to read so many agree with removing the child from the situation quickly and safely or restricting favorite toys/activies. i think it's equally important not to place blame, flip out, reason, negotiate, and then apologize for doing the right thing - being a parent.

    Posted by christine February 20, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Taking a kid out of a store and having them go home and have a time out, or having to sit in the car in their car seat, with no other interaction, until they have calmed down, is not rewarding them with too much attention. It is both teaching them that their behavior has consequences and sparing those around you. Win win situation.

    I have walked out of the Children's museum after 15 minutes due to misbehavior. I will not tolerate it. Because I was firm with them when they were toddlers, I rarely have trouble now. But when they do go into a new phase where they need to test me, I still come down on them like a hammer when it is necessary. We have a lot of fun when we are out together because they know what is expected, and don't feel the need to test the limits very much.

    Posted by BMS February 20, 09 04:38 PM
  1. BMS: I agree, if it is something fun from which they are being removed (e.g. movie, museum, toy store), then they get a message. More than once, my kids acted up _before_ going out and we cancelled a trip to someplace fun. They still remember each and every occasion an d I only need to remind them of those occasions to get better behavior.

    What if you are at the shop getting your car fixed? Or waiting at motor vehicles? Or getting groceries for tonight's dinner? These are inherently boring places for kids, yet you do need to go there. Obviously keep the kid entertained with crayons or what not, but to just leave these places when you know you will need to go back seems a bit counterintuitive. They now have control over your activities and there is little to prevent them from behaving that way again. On the other hand, if you let them scream (to a point obviously) and show them that they will neither get what they want nor prevent you from completing your un-fun task, then they will (and do) eventually surrender.

    Still, I reiterate, the best medicine is an ounce of prevention. Bring crayons. At the market, use the self scanner gun and let the kids scan the groceries. And yes, give in on one treat of your choice at the grocery store which you can threaten to leave behind at any moment if they act up.

    Posted by bv February 21, 09 09:27 AM
  1. Haul them out of Children's Museum or take them home from the playground, sure, but never walk away from a cart full of groceries. First of all, that punishes YOU, because you'll only have to go back and start all over again later. Too bad if they don't want to be in Stop & Shop. Do YOU really want to be there? No. You suck it up, though, because you have to. It's okay for them to learn how to do that, too. Besides, it's not really a choice they can make until they are old enough to be left at home alone.

    Second of all, all you're doing is making work for somebody else. Do you think they just leave that unattended cart in the middle of the store indefinitely? No. Somebody has to tend to it and put all that stuff away. Did that ice cream melt into an unrecognizable puddle that can't be sold now? How about that ground beef? Did it sit unrefrigerated too long? Not cool. Just ignore the screaming and go about the business of finishing your shopping. Your kid's tantrum is reminding the retired couple in aisle 10 about their parenting adventures and the teenage girl scanning your items of the value of birth control. In other words, nobody but you is stressing out about the noise.

    In a restaurant, yes. Take them outside, explain that the behavior is not okay, and that if they don't stop it immediately there will be swift and non-negotiable consequences at home, whether it's the loss of a favorite toy or an early bedtime. Whatever works for your kid. But MEAN it. No "Okay FINE play Xbox!" because it's easier than continuing the argument. The Xbox isn't the only thing being played if you do that.

    Posted by Rose February 22, 09 03:48 PM
  1. Taking them out of the situation is all very well when you *can* do that -- but my toddler's most spectacular meltdowns have been on the train. And let me tell you, you haven't felt judged for your parenting skills until you've been on a trainful of cranky commuters! I prepare for our daily commutes with books, snacks, toys, and drinks, but sometimes he freaks out over a small thing (like having to put on his jacket when it's 15 degrees out) and there's nothing I can do to prepare for that one. These are the days when I get home, hand him to my husband, and open the wine...

    Posted by kiddycommuter February 22, 09 06:56 PM
  1. Taking your kids places they don't want to be is often unavoidable (esp. for single parents) but I did everything possible to avoid it. I rarely took the kids to stores and restaurants when they were little and timed the grocery shopping so I would just have one kid to focus on. I would rather have cereal for dinner than take a tired kid into the grocery store to pick up ingredients. Tantrum-age kids generally are too little to learn to "suck it up" and deal and if they are prone to meltdowns they don't have the personality anyway. You can work on dealing with less than optimal situations when they are older. I also NEVER bought them anything when we were shopping, right from the beginning. No toys, no candy - just a bagel to munch on in the grocery store. Letting them "pick something out" for themselves at the store may seem ok on that day, but I knew it could cause big trouble down the road.

    Posted by Cordelia February 25, 09 10:16 AM
  1. I am only 18. No, I am not a parent; I am at an Ivy League . When I was a kid, I just constantly wanted attention. "Giving In" or "Not giving in" is not how I'd put it. Children who throw tantrums aren't purposely mean or misbehaving. Most children are Single-Minded when they throw a tantrum. The thoughts running through their heads are simple, something like 'My mom doesn't love/care about/want me." THe children are testing their parents. Don't underestimate the intelligence of a seven-year old. Chances are, they think pretty decisively and sometimes tend to be mischievous. A child wants a hug. They may decide that they want a cookie as well, but when they can't have it they will learn. Instead, love is always the right answer. Be calm. Be tolerant. Be patient. Be kind. Don't yell. Don't fight. Don't change your mind. Don't say anything you wouldn't have wanted your mother to say to you. You need to stay calm. Don't punish the child severely. Just say "please do not do that". Treat them like adults. let them embarrass themselves. After, ask them :Why did you do that? Do you know it's not okay to do that? Then explain to them why that was not okay to do. Trust me, children get angry from yelling. Children who are treated maturely will act responsibly. I was always very mature for my age (mentally). Just treat your children how you would want to be treated. (As an Adult, maturely, patiently, respectively) -Rosalie Black RB

    Posted by Rosalie Black March 10, 09 10:25 PM
 
18 comments so far...
  1. Five kids under the age of 8- and there is any wonder the Nicholasen has so much experience with meltdowns?
    Give kids the benefit of parental attention and you may not have so many meltdowns. 5 kids is too many. Our current culture is not like the farm days of old; children need a lot more parenting, and we don't need so many offspring.

    With all due respect, Mary, while you may not be able to manage with five children, other people are well suited for the challenge. Let's leave the judgement out of it, and discuss the issue at hand, which is dealing with kids and their meltdowns. If you have anything constructive to contribute to the discussion, I'd love to read it. -- LMA

    Posted by Mary February 20, 09 08:30 AM
  1. I never tolerated melt downs-at home or outside the home.
    I have left more carriages of food in the middle of the grocery aisle to remove the unruly toddler. They catch on quick.
    Just don't react to the melt down other than removing them from public places as to not disturb others.
    At home--standing in the corner worked when time outs started to be less effective.
    Now that they are teens--their melt downs result in priveleges being taken away (cell phone/computer time/xbox time--restrictions from friends coming over).
    It is hard as you really want to have your own melt down...but I would usually just turn my radio up and ignore them until they calmed down...

    Posted by triedbuttrue February 20, 09 08:33 AM
  1. One of the first things you can do is practice some prevention. As you mentioned in the article, six hours in a minivan is asking for trouble. When I take the kids, even a couple hours to Maine on the weekends, I always take a break about half way and run 'em. They have so much more energy than we do, it needs to be burnt off at regular intervals or it will find a way out at the restaurant or worse. We have to be smarter about that as parents and really make an effort to understand your kids motivation and what they "need" as kids, v. what we need as parents.

    And absolutely, turn around and leave the store or the restaurant if that's what it takes, but never let a no turn into a maybe or a yes. Once you do, you've lost.
    hippydippy

    Posted by hippydippy February 20, 09 08:52 AM
  1. Each of my two daughters went through the "let's see if a tantrum gets me anything" phase.

    Since we made it a point that they will never get what they ask for if they throw a tantrum (nor do they get extra hugs, kisses, attention, etc.) the behaviour stopped pretty quickly.

    With kids that age, you get the behaviours you reward. Show me a kid who throws lots of tantrums and I see a kid who gets rewarded for throwing one.

    Posted by HBx February 20, 09 11:04 AM
  1. can't really have your kids in a car for 6 hours straight and expect them to not go nuts in a public restaurant...

    Posted by me February 20, 09 12:24 PM
  1. ME - Sometimes a 6 hour car ride can't be helped - Think winter - bad weather.

    Very true! -- LMA

    Posted by Jules February 20, 09 12:36 PM
  1. I agree with Mary. Five kids is far too many. What was the author thinking?!

    As I wrote earlier: Let's leave the judgement out of it, and discuss the issue at hand, which is dealing with kids and their meltdowns. If you have anything constructive to contribute to the discussion, I'd love to read it. -- LMA

    Posted by Situation February 20, 09 12:42 PM
  1. Mary just got owned. You make great points, Lylah. I love reading your blogs and I'm a 20 year-old with no kids! Keep up the great work!!

    Posted by Sam February 20, 09 01:36 PM
  1. Not only are the comments about the quantity of kids way off topic, kids these days have too much parental attention, which I believe contributes to this type of behavior. Parents coddle their children and emotions rather than empowering them to solve their problems and express their emotions.

    I've seen just as many tantrums from single (or double) child families, if not more. The larger the family, the more independent and self-reliant children have to become.

    That said although all kids are different, we've found one simple solution. We scoop the child up, and leave where ever we are. Restaurants, parks, museums, grocery stores, etc. Kids learn quickly.

    I hate seeing parents trying to negotiate with out of control toddlers when out public.

    P.S. - I would have 10 kid if I could afford them!

    Posted by Mike February 20, 09 01:51 PM
  1. I am the oldest of 5 children. I was born in 1971 and the youngest in 1977. Our parents gave us all of the attention in the world but we still had our meltdowns once in a while. They were few and far between because my parents were also strict disciplinarians who would quickly shut the "meltdown" down. I have 3 kids myself, the oldest 7 and the twins 4. Before we go out, my husband and I give them the "speech" about proper behavior and what the consequences will be if they act up. We also know that we shouldn't take them out past 7pm unless it's absolutely necessary. It's too close to their bed time and the more tired they are the more wired they act. On long car rides, you have to be willing to stop and let them out of their seats for a few minutes every once in a while. We were lucky that our kids were very well behaved during the long car trip from Canada to Boston. They didn't even complain when we were stuck in traffic. I also agree with Sam: Mary got owned.

    Posted by One of Five February 20, 09 01:57 PM
  1. If you leave the carriage of food in the grocery store or leave the restaurant, don't the kids get exactly what they want...more attention?? Won't they be more prone to tantrums when they see a response that gets them what they want? I can see not wanting to bother other people in a restaurant...I've taken kids out side for a "break" when at a restaurant...but in a grocery store. Do any of the other shoppers really care if your kid is screaming in a crowded Stop & Shop? And while we are discussing that, aren't we better served with one or two full out tantrums at the grocery store until they learn that nothing is gained, as opposed to weekly ones which get what they want?

    As for 5 kids, to each his own. Who are we to judge how many is OK? There are plenty of childless people who think 2 is too many! I know that I could not raise 5, but then again, I cannot climb Everest, but I don't ridicule those who can or choose to. I suspect climbing Everest is easier! :)

    Posted by bv February 20, 09 02:05 PM
  1. As a single female foster parent (take that Ann Coulter!) I regularly have children with behavioral issues. From minor to all out hsyteria I've dealt with meltdowns in church, stores, playground, car, and family events. foster kids have a hard time "unlearning" negative behaviours and correcting does get wearisome.

    i'm so encouraged to read so many agree with removing the child from the situation quickly and safely or restricting favorite toys/activies. i think it's equally important not to place blame, flip out, reason, negotiate, and then apologize for doing the right thing - being a parent.

    Posted by christine February 20, 09 03:02 PM
  1. Taking a kid out of a store and having them go home and have a time out, or having to sit in the car in their car seat, with no other interaction, until they have calmed down, is not rewarding them with too much attention. It is both teaching them that their behavior has consequences and sparing those around you. Win win situation.

    I have walked out of the Children's museum after 15 minutes due to misbehavior. I will not tolerate it. Because I was firm with them when they were toddlers, I rarely have trouble now. But when they do go into a new phase where they need to test me, I still come down on them like a hammer when it is necessary. We have a lot of fun when we are out together because they know what is expected, and don't feel the need to test the limits very much.

    Posted by BMS February 20, 09 04:38 PM
  1. BMS: I agree, if it is something fun from which they are being removed (e.g. movie, museum, toy store), then they get a message. More than once, my kids acted up _before_ going out and we cancelled a trip to someplace fun. They still remember each and every occasion an d I only need to remind them of those occasions to get better behavior.

    What if you are at the shop getting your car fixed? Or waiting at motor vehicles? Or getting groceries for tonight's dinner? These are inherently boring places for kids, yet you do need to go there. Obviously keep the kid entertained with crayons or what not, but to just leave these places when you know you will need to go back seems a bit counterintuitive. They now have control over your activities and there is little to prevent them from behaving that way again. On the other hand, if you let them scream (to a point obviously) and show them that they will neither get what they want nor prevent you from completing your un-fun task, then they will (and do) eventually surrender.

    Still, I reiterate, the best medicine is an ounce of prevention. Bring crayons. At the market, use the self scanner gun and let the kids scan the groceries. And yes, give in on one treat of your choice at the grocery store which you can threaten to leave behind at any moment if they act up.

    Posted by bv February 21, 09 09:27 AM
  1. Haul them out of Children's Museum or take them home from the playground, sure, but never walk away from a cart full of groceries. First of all, that punishes YOU, because you'll only have to go back and start all over again later. Too bad if they don't want to be in Stop & Shop. Do YOU really want to be there? No. You suck it up, though, because you have to. It's okay for them to learn how to do that, too. Besides, it's not really a choice they can make until they are old enough to be left at home alone.

    Second of all, all you're doing is making work for somebody else. Do you think they just leave that unattended cart in the middle of the store indefinitely? No. Somebody has to tend to it and put all that stuff away. Did that ice cream melt into an unrecognizable puddle that can't be sold now? How about that ground beef? Did it sit unrefrigerated too long? Not cool. Just ignore the screaming and go about the business of finishing your shopping. Your kid's tantrum is reminding the retired couple in aisle 10 about their parenting adventures and the teenage girl scanning your items of the value of birth control. In other words, nobody but you is stressing out about the noise.

    In a restaurant, yes. Take them outside, explain that the behavior is not okay, and that if they don't stop it immediately there will be swift and non-negotiable consequences at home, whether it's the loss of a favorite toy or an early bedtime. Whatever works for your kid. But MEAN it. No "Okay FINE play Xbox!" because it's easier than continuing the argument. The Xbox isn't the only thing being played if you do that.

    Posted by Rose February 22, 09 03:48 PM
  1. Taking them out of the situation is all very well when you *can* do that -- but my toddler's most spectacular meltdowns have been on the train. And let me tell you, you haven't felt judged for your parenting skills until you've been on a trainful of cranky commuters! I prepare for our daily commutes with books, snacks, toys, and drinks, but sometimes he freaks out over a small thing (like having to put on his jacket when it's 15 degrees out) and there's nothing I can do to prepare for that one. These are the days when I get home, hand him to my husband, and open the wine...

    Posted by kiddycommuter February 22, 09 06:56 PM
  1. Taking your kids places they don't want to be is often unavoidable (esp. for single parents) but I did everything possible to avoid it. I rarely took the kids to stores and restaurants when they were little and timed the grocery shopping so I would just have one kid to focus on. I would rather have cereal for dinner than take a tired kid into the grocery store to pick up ingredients. Tantrum-age kids generally are too little to learn to "suck it up" and deal and if they are prone to meltdowns they don't have the personality anyway. You can work on dealing with less than optimal situations when they are older. I also NEVER bought them anything when we were shopping, right from the beginning. No toys, no candy - just a bagel to munch on in the grocery store. Letting them "pick something out" for themselves at the store may seem ok on that day, but I knew it could cause big trouble down the road.

    Posted by Cordelia February 25, 09 10:16 AM
  1. I am only 18. No, I am not a parent; I am at an Ivy League . When I was a kid, I just constantly wanted attention. "Giving In" or "Not giving in" is not how I'd put it. Children who throw tantrums aren't purposely mean or misbehaving. Most children are Single-Minded when they throw a tantrum. The thoughts running through their heads are simple, something like 'My mom doesn't love/care about/want me." THe children are testing their parents. Don't underestimate the intelligence of a seven-year old. Chances are, they think pretty decisively and sometimes tend to be mischievous. A child wants a hug. They may decide that they want a cookie as well, but when they can't have it they will learn. Instead, love is always the right answer. Be calm. Be tolerant. Be patient. Be kind. Don't yell. Don't fight. Don't change your mind. Don't say anything you wouldn't have wanted your mother to say to you. You need to stay calm. Don't punish the child severely. Just say "please do not do that". Treat them like adults. let them embarrass themselves. After, ask them :Why did you do that? Do you know it's not okay to do that? Then explain to them why that was not okay to do. Trust me, children get angry from yelling. Children who are treated maturely will act responsibly. I was always very mature for my age (mentally). Just treat your children how you would want to be treated. (As an Adult, maturely, patiently, respectively) -Rosalie Black RB

    Posted by Rosalie Black March 10, 09 10:25 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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