Counselor Connection Blog: Model Parenting...


Becoming a parent is a joyous occasion. To gaze at your child for the first time is a miraculous event, and the memory stays with you for a lifetime. And so does your child, for better or worse. There are times when your wonder and amazement will turn to irritation and anger. And you will wonder, where is the manual? What do I do with this screaming child? While we don’t have a manual, we have a few techniques that you can use with your child to help make parenting a joy again.

Step 1: Stop. Your child may do things that make you upset. If you feel like flying off the handle, stop. Don’t lose your cool in front of your child, even if they’re the one making you angry. You may not have the same figure you had before having kids, but here’s your chance to be a model. Be a model of self-control. When your child does something to make you angry, demonstrate how to handle anger appropriately by staying calm (take deep breaths or leave the room until you calm down). Your child will learn from watching you!

Step 2: Think. Get in the habit of asking yourself, what is the reason for this behavior? Depending on the reason for the behavior, you will respond differently to your child. For example, if your child is tired, and that is likely the reason for the crying, they should take a nap. If your child is acting wildly, they may be bored, so give them something to do. When a child is sick, hungry, tired or bored, bad behavior will likely show up. You must meet your child’s basic needs first.

So what should you do if your child is simply crying and screaming just because you told them, “no”? Children have temper tantrums because they have not mastered the art of self-control. Your job is to model that self-control. As long as your child is safe, that’s all you have to do in this situation. If they are inconsolable and too upset to be redirected, just wait until the tantrum is over. It takes a lot of effort to throw a tantrum; in fact, it’s exhausting. That’s why they are their own consequence. Oftentimes parents try to convince their child to stop screaming, but when they don’t, parents lose it. Instead, tell your child that you will talk to them when they’re calm, period. Make sure your child is safe, and ignore the tantrum until it’s done. Remain calm by engaging yourself in a positive activity. Take a deep breath and wash the dishes, watch TV, listen to music or leave the room. When your child is finished with the tantrum, engage them in a positive activity. NEVER give in to a temper tantrum as this will encourage more in the future.

You are your child’s best teacher, and actions speak louder than words. Show your child how to handle anger and frustration by being a model of self-control. The lesson will last a lifetime.

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