The first strategy is modeling staying calm and being in a positive frame of mind. Adults should model at all times good behavior when interacting with young children. Children do not know what good behavior looks like is until it is shown to them. Therefore, it is imperative that parents speak appropriately and use good judgement when in the presence of young children. Children must be guided and corrected when appropriate. When adults create a habit of positive modeling this behavior is fostered in the child and helps to create a healthy balance in the long term for the child when dealing with setbacks. Communicate in a non-threatening manner to the child that his or her demands are heard and that you are listening. This helps to give the child a sense of self worth and validation that they are are important. This does not necessarily mean you have given into the old saying “I want what I want when I want it!” The want or need that the child is expressing may be senseless to you, but remember its very important to him or her at that moment. The best way to gain their trust is to demonstrate that you are “listening. ” Parents must be willing to communicate and listen attentively to their child as he or she describes their wants.
Your understanding patience sets a child at ease at the moment of crisis. During this moment you can communicate with your child the expectations and to provide choices to the child so that he or she can participate in the crisis appropriately. For example, I see that you are upset and I can understand why you feel this way. The second strategy is to find your child’s strength and provide choices for him or her during that moment that can help pass the time until you can reach an appropriate destination to gain your child’s full attention in a more comfortable environment to discuss better alternative methods should an event like this occur again in the future. Choices helps to empower the child and to make him or her become alert of their actions and to assure him or her that you are there for them.
The last strategy is to discuss the episode and let the child discuss their point of view about the crisis. Try very hard not to interrupt him or her when they are sharing their point of view. Discuss step by step with the child what happen and ask the child what other way they could have handled the situation rather than screaming or having a temper tantrum to gain your attention. No matter how poor the crisis was at the time find something good in the crisis to pull from to validate to your child that you did appreciate him or her trying to get your attention, but there’s a better way to express your frustration. Telling your child that having good behavior is accepted at all times in all places and how proud that makes you feel and how wonderful that makes he or she looks.
In conclusion, you can have a power talk with your child prior to going out in the community and discuss the daily agenda of where he or she will be going for the day. You can also discuss how long you expect to be out for the day and what is to be expected when you all return home. Perhaps taking snacks and providing frequent breaks can help to prevent frustration. Children love to be apart of the planning process or just to know what is going on when going out for the day. Communication is the magic ingredient when your child is in a crisis. These are only strategies and certainly not the cure to a behavior exhibited by some children. Trying the strategies over a period a time is an intervention that can be successful if used accordingly. If your child is successful while out, be sure to acknowledge him or her with lots of praise and encouragement. So go out and have a great time with your child, but remember to talk, talk, talk and talk!