As parents, we want the best for our children. We want to raise them to be happy, well adjusted and emotionally resilient. But things don’t always go our way, leading to frustration and anger. You may have a child who throws terrible tantrums to get what he wants. Or your five-year-old daughter refuses to sleep in her own bed because she’s afraid of being alone in the dark.
But don’t worry – other mums face the same issues too. And we have the solutions to them here.
He still wants to sleep in your bed
To get your child to sleep in his own bed, take baby steps. At bedtime, sit near him as he falls asleep, then, over successive nights, gradually move away as he becomes more confident about falling asleep.
At first, he may be upset but he will soon learn the new behaviour; in the first few weeks, you might have to go back into his room to shush him.
He likes his daddy but not you
As parents, you and your hubby need to present a united front, so playing good cop-bad cop isn’t helpful. Ask yourself why your child favours one parent over the other: Did you have a par t to play? Why does he have a favourite parent? If the behaviour persists, the parent who isn’t as favoured may feel displaced and resentful.
He shows OCD behaviour
Parents may inadvertently fuel a child’s irrational fears. It’s best to discourage a child’s obsessive-compulsive behaviour – like having his teddy bear in the exact same spot or curtains in the same position every night before he can go to bed – or else the rituals may get longer as his anxiety keeps spiking.
You could try desensitising him against things that are causing him panic and, more importantly, find out how and why his fears started. Disentangle yourself from his behaviour.
His meltdowns are scary
Tantrums are a normal part of a child’s development, but whether they persist or stop depends on how effectively you help your child understand that the behaviour is undesirable.
Let him know where he stands: If you “reward” his tantrums by giving them attention, whether by shouting or arguing, they will continue; but if you ignore them or link them to a negative consequence, the tantrums are likely to stop.
He complains he’s bored
Boredom is a construct that children should get more exposure to. Learning to create your own stimulation and to tolerate a lack of stimulation are important skills. It gives children the space to be creative and imaginative while allowing room to relax. Kids can also learn through trial and error – they don’t have to be taught all the time. It may also inspire them to think out of the box, which comes from freedom and time that is unscripted.
5 THINGS TO DO
1. Establish boundaries.
Be assertive and firm with your kids to get the message across. You could say something like: “You will not do this and this will happen until you change.”
Establish structure and routine for them, particularly in the area of bedtimes, and rules about diet. And be firm – don’t confuse your kid by negotiating and compromising with or bribing him.
2. Don’t overanalyse.
When you overanalyse a young child’s behaviour, you reinforce it by giving it attention. For now, just deal with the behaviour – setting boundaries, taking responsibility, being consistent – and discuss the issue with the child when he is older.
3. Don’t compare.
Learn to accept individual differences instead of comparing your child with another. If you get anxious over the rate of your child’s development, he will feel that anxiety and become stressed, which may delay development.
4. Say “no”.
Many parents have trouble saying “no” for many reasons, including the fear that their child will get upset or won’t like them, or that it will affect their bond. While you may want to be “friends” with your child, you are ultimately the parent and will often have to say or do things he may not be pleased about, to help him learn.
5. Don’t collude.
Helping a child through a rough patch can help him become more resilient. Help your child face his fears and let him know that you are there for him, but do not rescue him. The more you remove him from something that won’t harm him, the more you further his belief that he can’t handle it.
This article was originally published in Simply Her August 2015.