Sunday, September 28, 2008

Toy Store Tantrums

When you are standing in the local Toys-R-Us and your three year old hits you as he zooms by you screaming that he will be getting the new Dora the Explorer rescue pack, you probably don't think 'we are practicing our relationship, so let's ride this out.' If you are like me you may want to rip that toy right out of his hands and say some "nice mommy words" like "don't you embarrass me" or my favorite "you will never, ever be getting that toy, EVER" and haul your special package to the car.

I have had my moments of either a screaming, kicking child that I swing over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and take out of the store or I buy them whatever they want as long as there is no crying, screaming, or kicking. Sometimes these methods are unavoidable and necessary, but probably not good for your long-term relationship. Guess what you will most likely (unless something horrible happens) be a parent to your adult children longer than you parented them as children.

Once I realized that my relationship with my children will tally more adult years then child years, I changed how I parent (most of the time). As parents, we often we stay focused on the here and now and not the when they are twenty or even forty, what will our relationship look like. I don't know about you, but I want to still have a relationship with my children through out my life and theirs.

Before I would not have said I was controlling or demanding, but I was anxious of what others thought and I would avoid "learning situations" just so there was no outburst or tantrum. Now, when I have a screaming child in the toy store I look at it as practicing money management (which I hope my children are better than me at), so I might say:

"Do you have any money?"

Which makes the child stop and think and if he does, he may say:

"I have four dollars."

See, a learning opportunity and the child has stopped tantruming. Then you have a discussion of do you have enough money or you will have to save or get something different. This problem solving takes the pressure off of you and the child and you work together to figure out the situation. Now, if I just hauled the little monkey off to the car we would not have been able to practice and by the time he needs to manage his own money he would have no skills, not to mention our relationship would be based on me controlling his behavior.

As for our relationship, he knows I will not just hand over the cash, but I will be willing to help him work out the situation. Not only is he learning money management skills, but for the kid who has a difficult time self-regulating, learning the ability to stop and think and then move forward can be essential. Practicing is the key, this practical situation gets played-out daily in our house; "can I get...."or can I do..." and I repeat my line and then we talk about how to move forward.

Now, think long-term, how might this problem solving technique might help later when your child is sixteen? In addition to skills your child has gained, you are building a lasting respectful relationship.

1 comment:

whizkidforte said...

I like this social skill - also, I might even pen a mean social story on money management - this is a good time to do so, regarding the recession we have to bear with!