by SARA AHMAD
Whether you're dealing with tantrum-throwing, whining, arguing, or nay-saying, we've got the right response
There are some basic strategies for dealing with the most common and challenging problem behaviours. Whichever your child's current style may be, the key to addressing it is consistency.
In the midst of a fit, your kid is frustration personified: He flings his body to the floor, kicks his feet, pounds his fists, and wails in a voice that is nearly unrecognisable as his own.
Who Does It: Nearly all children between 1 and 3 resort to tears, shrieks, and other meltdown behaviour at some point. In fact, 60 to 80 per cent of all 2-and 3-year-olds will have a tantrum at least weekly – and 20 per cent at least daily. This behaviour may continue up until about age 4, then it should taper off.
What's Behind It: Very young children throw tantrums for a basic reason: They're frustrated about something, but their vocabulary and reasoning skills are not yet developed enough to articulate what's wrong. Toddlers and some preschoolers haven't yet gained impulse or emotional control, so it's nearly impossible for them not to show their frustration physically.
How To Stop It: You can't entirely avoid tantrums; they're a natural part of development. So the next time your kid is wailing and flailing on the floor, try this strategy: State your stance once or twice ("No, you may not have a cookie"), and then ignore the behaviour.
"Let's put on your shoes." "No." "Want to go to the park?" "No." "Do you know any words besides 'no'?" "No." When did your cutie turn into a constant naysayer?
Who Does It: Kids start using the word no defiantly between 15 and 18 months, and may continue to be obstinate through 3 or beyond.
What's Behind It: Toddlers like to be in control. Their options for influence are limited at this age, and saying "no" is a basic way they grab for power. It doesn't require a large vocabulary, motor control, or the ability to reason.
How To Stop It: The key to dealing with a 'master of no' is to phrase requests in a way that offers your toddler options, even if they aren't real choices. Want her to put her shoes on? Say, "You can wear your blue shoes or your brown shoes. Which would you like to put on?" Also, make sure you aren't saying no all the time.
When kids combine a nasal voice, elongated vowels and dramatic gestures for maximum impact, they achieve what is probably the most grating of all bratty behaviours.
Who Does It: This approach generally appears a while after the onset of tantrums. Whining usually starts around age 3, but it depends on a child's vocabulary. The more words your child has at his disposal, the better he'll be at expressing himself. This behaviour can continue for some time if a child has experienced success with the tactic earlier.
What's Behind It: Like throwing tantrums, whining is a natural way for a child to express frustration. By age 3 or so, he is at a point developmentally where he can control the impulse to throw himself on the floor, but he may not have developed the ability to reason and make a logical request. Even some usually articulate kids may revert to whining if they are hungry, or tired, or feeling cranky.
How To Stop It: Give your child a hug and say, 'I see you are really upset right now.' This may seem like rewarding the behaviour, but it is not. Children are more likely to hear you when they feel they are understood. Once he's calmed down, say in an even tone: Speak to me in your normal voice. I can't understand what you're saying when you whine.
She'll say just about anything to persuade you to give in to what she wants: "But all the other kids get to watch that show." "The show is educational – if you let me watch it, I'll learn something – don't you want me to be smart?" "If you let me watch it, I'll clean my room."
Who Does It: This type of behaviour usually begins at about age 5, when kids have figured out how to use language and logic to express their wants.
What's Behind It: Your child has graduated from kicking and screaming to using words to convince you to let her do what she wants to do. She may still believe that the world essentially revolves around her, but she is starting to see that other people have a different perspective.
How To Stop It: While you don't want to discourage the complex thinking behind negotiation skills, sometimes parents just need a break from this debating. Try to use positive reinforcement, but, as always, stay with your decision.