I imagine that even Kate Middleton (the Duchess of Cambridge in England’s monarchy) will experience her son, Prince George, throwing temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way or is asked to do something he doesn’t want to do. The prince, despite his royal heritage and training in comportment, might even be bossy with other children his age.
Do you sometimes feel like you’ve tried everything, and aren’t sure if your child will ever attain self-control? Being a parent is challenging; when you have a strong-willed child it can be a source of serious stress and conflict. Here are some suggestions to help:
It’s been said that before you can change a behavior, you must first be aware of it. Next time your children become inflexible and trigger your negative emotions, notice your body sensations, your feelings, and your thoughts.
What is your reaction? How do your children react to your words and emotional state? You could keep a log for a week regarding your interaction with your children when it seems communication between you has gone amiss. As you look back at previous incidents, what could you have said or done to make things go more smoothly?
Can you become mindful of your breathing and slow it down? Slow your thought process and take deep breaths before you try to correct the behavior? Are you aware of your children’s fears and reactions?
Besides helping yourself, you can help your children become aware of their feelings and body signals as well. When the time is right and they are at ease, help them become aware of their own emotions. Play the “my body feels” game. You can say: “When I feel angry, my face feels really warm, what about you, Jimmy?” Let your child respond. Your child could say, “When I feel angry, my hands feel like ripping things!” Take a turn focusing on that particular feeling and then switch to another feeling.
Model the behavior for your children throughout the day. Be mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. When appropriate, verbalize your feelings and body signals and encourage your children to follow suit.
Acknowledge Their Feelings.
One of the first steps to prevent an emotional disaster is to acknowledge and validate your children’s feelings. Show empathy. Help them know you understand how they feel. Normally, when your children wish to do something that is against the rules, we simply say, “No, Jimmy, please don’t do that.”