Have you ever been shopping and been in line behind someone who’s child is throwing an absolute fit about something that they absolutely have to have at that moment? Have you ever thought to yourself, “Nope, not my child. My child would never throw a fit like that and get away with it?” Your next thought is probably something along the line of, “Why doesn’t that parent get the child under control?” And, as soon as that thought enters your mind, you see the parent reach down and get whatever the child was freaking out about simply so that they would quiet down.
Now, think for a moment. Has that ever been you? Have you ever been in the store shopping and your child starts throwing a fit in front of everyone? Of course, you have. Every child does it. It is not rooted in whether or not we are good parents. There is something else going on. Your child wants to be his or her own authority. Your child is testing boundaries. “What can I get away with? How strong is the will of my parent?” The truth in this is that, often times, parents will give in during these moments, not because they are bad parents, but because they are embarrassed and want the situation to come to an end.
However, this does not fix the situation. It actually makes it worse. As understandable as it is to want to do whatever you can to get your child to stop throwing a tantrum in front of your peers, giving in to their demands is only going to enforce the behavior, not curb it. What then do we do? Most people would say, nip it in the bud right then and there. However, if we are addressing this with our children for the very first time during the incident in an attempt to get them to stop then we are also missing the point.
We all want to have these perfectly behaved children that always express themselves exactly the way they have been trained. That is not reality. They will often behave the exact opposite of how you have taught them and they seem to do it on purpose.
Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend remind us that “good child rearing involves both preventative training and practice and correctional consequences.” (Boundaries, 179) We should be preparing our children, in advance, for how they should behave in public. Sit down with your kids before you even go into the store and talk to them about how they are expected to behave and then hold them to it. If, after you have laid out those strict boundaries, the fit still comes, then discipline must follow. Cloud and Townsend go on to say that “discipline is an external boundary, designed to develop internal boundaries in our children. It provides a structure for safety until the child has enough structure in his character to not need it.”
Whatever measure of discipline you have designated for this event needs to be followed through with. Now, understand, I am not advocating that we should abuse our children and we should never discipline our children out of anger. However, with that said, I am an advocate for spanking children as a means of discipline. If you have informed your child that they will be spanked if they throw a fit and yell to get their way, then you need to follow through with it and it needs to be as immediate as possible so that they connect the discipline to their behavior. If you do not spank but have put some other measure in place, that is fine as well.
We just have to be consistent in the discipline.
Hey. I haven’t put this in a post for quite a while but…
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