“He has such an attitude. And he’s only four!”
“I thought I had years to prepare for this. No one warned me about dealing with a threenager!”
“She’s five going on fifteen.”
Have you ever commented on your child’s attitude? I am sure I have, especially as we live with a just-turned-five year old master negotiator. This recent breakfast conversation is pretty typical of numerous interactions throughout the day…
“Immy, would you like some honey on your porridge?”
“I think I’ll have sprinkles.”
“I asked if you would like some honey.”
I am not proud to say that her success at wearing me down is in direct proportion to my mood, capacity for debate in that exact moment in time and (most importantly) my current level of sleep deprivation. Sometimes she has her way, sometimes I have mine and other times we begrudgingly reach a form of mutually satisfactory truce.
It’s had me thinking a lot about this question – when we say a child has an attitude, what do we really mean?
Do we mean that they are acting in defiance to something we have said or done?
Do we mean that they are differing in opinion to our own?
Could it in fact be a difference in personality type rather than deliberate misbehaviour?
Or are we dealing with something else completely – something biological, like hormones? Or environmental, like their capacity for dealing with stress? Or are they simply seeking a connection with us and don’t know how to ask for what they want?
And if, at any given moment in time, their attitude is in fact complicated by other factors – many of which may actually be outside of their immediate control – doesn’t it make sense that we are most likely to achieve a more positive response with a whole lot less angst if we take into account these influences and make the effort to adjust our own response?
Instead of responding with frustration or anger or resignation, what if we instead try humour. Or compromise. Or cuddles. Or playfulness?
I can’t say that I have the answers. It’s just something I have been pondering recently as I help my just-turned-five year old to find socially acceptable ways to deal with big emotions.
One person that I believe offers a lot of practical answers to this type of question is Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute. Amanda’s Parenting for Positive Guidance eBook and eCourse offer parents easy-to-use, practical tools for guiding children’s behaviour. I am very excited to provide you with a peek at one of the videos from the Parenting with Positive Guidance eCourse*. In this video Amanda talks about saying what you see, saying no and using humour. I love that she presents the information in bite sized chunks that are easy to take on board and try out in your own home. Watch the video below and you will see what I mean…
You can find the comic strip that Amanda refers to at the beginning of this clip here.
What say you about dealing with your child’s attitude?