ASK MOM offers parents and caretakers two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues--one from a mom with grown children, the other from a mom raising small children. If you're looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn't around to ask, drop in!
THE PROBLEM: I’m a little afraid of my five-year-old son. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but whenever I need to tell him he can’t do something, he gets extremely agitated, to the point where he’s red in the face. And he gets soooo angry at me! Too often, I give in. When I’m honest with myself, I realize I’m being overindulgent, but I can’t stand when he has these meltdowns. I feel like I’m walking on thin ice all the time. (Btw, It’s worse with me. My husband is better at being firm.) I know the obvious solution is to not give in so much, but I don’t seem to be able to do that. I hate to see him so unhappy.
MARY SAYS: It’s not always easy to balance this dynamic. If we’re constantly telling our children ‘no,’ they’ll end up thinking the world is a tough place to navigate. But when parents let children have their way ALL the time, Junior takes charge, and the home becomes a battleground. Even worse, kids know when they’ve gained control, which can be a scary thing for a five-year-old. A tendency toward anxiety can emerge, which is most likely what you are seeing in your son.
If you really ‘hate to see him so unhappy,’ you need to change this unhealthy dance you’ve got going between the two of you. Take the helm, Mom. He desperately needs you to. Your son will have a hard time collaborating with other people if he doesn’t learn he can’t always get what he wants. Furthermore, when children are little, their boundaries include their parents. To him, you are an extension of who he is. Because you’re letting your son mistreat YOU, you are showing him it’s okay when people mistreat HIM. If you don’t know how to do this, please seek help. Or watch how your husband manages your son. It sounds like he gets it, and with a little practice (and a firm resolve), you can, too.
KRISTI SAYS: Giving in is just feeding the cycle. While it's difficult to see our children unhappy or have meltdowns, it's better they learn to be told no now and deal with it, than the possibility of what could happen when he gets older and is used to getting his way when he throws a tantrum. I love the lessons I learned from the book "Love and Logic for Early Childhood."
One of them is that our actions have natural consequences. If a child is told no, then they pitch a fit and you give in, the natural progression is that they will continue this behavior. But when you stand your ground and no means no, they learn that there's a boundary they cannot cross. For instance, if you are heading out to do something fun and they don't clean up their room first like you asked, the natural consequence would be to take away the fun thing and to stay home.
Photo by Ryan Franco
Speaking of Kids
Online phonics program blog: Musings, stories, and tips about teaching, reading, and parenting.
ABOUT MARY FOLLIN
Mary is the author of TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ and ETHYR, winner of the Moonbeam Children's Book Award and the Gertrude Warner Book Award. She is mom to two grown sons and enjoys sharing her more seasoned perspective with parents of younger children.
ABOUT KRISTI CROSSON
Kristi is a professional photographer and homeschooling mom of three small children. She has a passion for helping other moms make healthy choices for themselves and their families. To learn more about Kristi, please visit her website.
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