I think happy thoughts

Children’s tactics to get what they want.

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Every child seems to have an instinctively stubborn way of trying to change the word “No” into a “Yes.” It happens to every parent. Your sweet child suddenly turns into a whining, screaming, crying mess when you say “no.”  Usually this is best done in a public place to call more attention to you and make you feel obligated to do something quick to make him/her be quiet. Now other children may have made it through this phase and know that a tantrum won’t work (kudos to you for breaking them of the habit), but now they try more subtle tactics like bargaining or logic to explain why it should be “yes.”  This type of tactic is more sly than the first and you may not even realize you are being had until later when you think, “Why did I let him have that?”  It’s a common problem that all parents face. Figuring out that your child is using these tactics is the first step to developing your own tactics to diffuse the situation and keep your sanity. Children can outsmart the best of us and the only way to beat them at their own tricks is to use the same type of mentality. Discussing “why” with a child that bargains will almost always result in you giving in or having a much longer conversation about candy than you ever wanted to.  The same goes for temper tantrums. Giving a long explanation about why their behavior is not appropriate won’t work. Being clear and consistent are your keys to success. Give the child an explanation ahead of time of what will happen if they try to tantrum or bargain their way into something.  That way when they try it (and you know they will) you can give a reminder about what will happen. Then when they try again (and they will) you follow through. Voila problem solved! Now this will take work because your child will probably wonder why their tactics are no  longer working. They may try again and again to get their tactics to work. But the more consistent you are the quicker they will learn that your rule is supreme. You can once again feel that yes you can outsmart a child (at least sometimes)!

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Author: Hattie Carroll-Ratliff

I am a licensed counselor and have been working in community counseling for more than ten years. I am a working mom and love to give back to others. I get a lot of satisfaction and joy from my work with families because I am passionate about helping as many people as possible feel successful and happy in this important part of their lives. I have a private practice on the main line in the Philadelphia Metro area. Please contact me if you would like more information. hattie.counseling@gmail.com

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