Everybody will tell you children are a blessing and most of the time I’m sure you will agree without a moment’s hesitation. However, there are other times where even the most patient parent sees their children as a curse (even if it is just for a few minutes).
We’ve all experienced the occasional temper tantrums and other challenging behavior – most of the time it happens in rather embarrassing situations.
But sometimes there are times where a child is so demanding that we as parents don’t know how to cope. After all, we are only human, we get exhausted and just like our
children we then get cranky.
So, what can you do when your child is demanding?
Assess the circumstances
On an average day, when does your child challenge you? Is it possible that they are just hungry or tired? If the problem occurs regularly around similar times maybe it is as easy as offering a snack or nap before their needs get the better of them.
If that isn’t it, maybe there have been some big changes in your child’s life. If they have just started school or you had to change childcare arrangements, they might be feeling insecure and are looking for reassurance.
If you and your partner are arguing a lot, have separated or you have recently introduced a new partner this might also be the cause. Or maybe you have just brought a new baby home? Gone back to work after having been a stay at home parent?
The fact is, there will always be situations your child is unsure about and they know they cannot change them. In these situations, your child might worry that you do not love them anymore and your reaction to their neediness is key.
In these exceptional circumstances, you might have to let them get away with certain things but keep talking to them as well. Reassure them of your love but also discuss the conflicts that have occurred between you. The more you talk about how you feel in certain situations, the better your child will learn to express their feelings.
Children testing boundaries
Maybe you know the situation, you see your preschooler pick up a box full of small toys and you immediately know all they want to do is tip the contents all over the floor. You warn them not to do it but with a diabolical grin they turn the box over.
The loud noise, chaos and the feeling that your child has just defied you immediately gets to you. You might still try to hold it together at this point but when you ask your child to pick the mess up, they just shrug and want to walk away.
Situations like this one are one thing above all else: frustrating. You might want to scream at your child or even lash out. Maybe you find yourself screaming something along the lines of they will never watch TV again.
The thing is, a shouting match between you and your child doesn’t result in the toys being picked up and children know that empty threats are just that. What you need are natural consequences. The toys that don’t get picked up off the floor will disappear for a few days. If your child refuses to try their dinner, they don’t get anything else to eat until the next meal.
Children need routines and they feel better if they know what is expected of them. The beauty of natural consequences is that children will be able to anticipate what happens if they do not comply.
Face the truth
Sometimes, though, we must recognize that it is us and not the children that are the problem. Children tend to act up if they have tried to get our attention and couldn’t get it for whatever reason. If you are preoccupied by your phone or the television, you might miss vital cues your child gives you.
Should you be busy or maybe just too tired to react, be honest about needing some time but agree on a time to see to your child.