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Trust and Threats

From "Parenting With M.E" Series

· toddler tantrums,parenting tips,disciplining a child,parenting a toddler,toddler activities

Building your child's trust in you involves you keeping your word - all the time. It also applies to aspects of discipline when threats have been thrown out. If you threaten to do something, be sure to see it through if your child really pushes your boundary. It wouldn't take long for the child to realise who dishes out empty threats, leading to a loss in the fear of authority. The child would then know how to side-step and undermine this figure of authority.

I believe threats need to be used sparingly though. It's easy to lash out threats when we are frustrated and feel a strong urge to bring a quick end to the tantrum that is going on. Sometimes, fear of the threatened action brings a quick stop to the misbehavior and the storm quickly passes. Other times, threats invoke greater defiance from our child.

I'm not sure about you, but I have a defiance streak too, even as an adult. There had been times when I simply didn't want to comply or agree with the other party. In fact the more I feel pushed, the more I want to retaliate and exert my opinions. So if I experience such aggression and defiance as an adult, why should I be surprised to see it being exhibited by my child who's even more emotional and less rational?

It can be most frustrating when you are in a rush to go to work, send your child to school, or trying to finish up some household chore, yet your child seems to have picked the most inconvenient time to throw a tantrum. Hence, you lash out a threat for him to stop his "nonsense", but instead of stopping, he throws a bigger fit.

In such situations when you are pressed for time, I find the best solution is to first take a deep breath, and calm down. Stop trying to rush your child or rush through what you are doing. Simply drop everything, get on your knees to your child's level and offer him a hug. I have learnt to stop trying to get my way especially when I desperately want to get things done my way, because when my child is in the midst of throwing a huge fit, it's simply impossible to get him to cooperate. I need to allow him to get over his tantrum first. So I would just stretch my arms wide open and say "okay. Come here for a hug."

In such times, less is more. Don't worry about what to say, what lesson to teach, or what discipline action to take. Simply focus your love and energy on giving your child a warm, loving hug. My 5yo doesn't always run into my arms. He's a very strong-willed boy who wants things done his way and according to his time. So I keep my arms open and wait for him to come into my embrace, but it often doesn't take long.

Once he's well-hugged, he would naturally calm down. He might still be sniffing, but if we really have to head somewhere, I'd say "okay. We really have to go now. Are you ready?" He would most certainly be ready to comply. But I would definitely let him know that we need to talk about the episode later in the day.

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