How To Get A 5 Year Old Boy To Listen Tantrum, Not Listening

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Tantrum, Not Listening

On occasion lately, my 5-year-old “angel” drags her feet when I ask her to dress and come downstairs for school. She whines and throws an “age appropriate” tantrum. Under these circumstances, she ignores my plea that “the Governor of the state of Nebraska requires children to be on time for school, so get moving now!” During these dark moods, unless I help dress her, hold her hand, and take her to the breakfast table, my little sweetie’s tushy won’t budge.

Oh, the stress she sometimes causes me in the a.m. It’s not fun watching the clock while getting her ready as time passes fast. Oh, my blood pressure rises. Backpack, snack, folder, hat. I do not enjoy the rush, rush, rush of all that!

So I tried every approach imaginable to get my daughter to listen and not throw a tantrum. I discovered that old-fashioned bribery (Webster’s Definition # 2 : something that serves to induce or influence) and what I call “semi-stern follow-up,” works well with my kindergartner. She listens a whole lot better.

But first, try to determine the cause of the tantrum. Tantrums can be triggered by a number of things, and the cause of the tantrum should help determine your response to it. If a tantrum is caused by hungriness or sleepiness, feed the child or allow him or her to take a nap. If frustration or fear triggers a tantrum, you need to comfort your child. If the child feels ignored, spend some quality time with him, playing or reading, etc. If, however, your child is acting up because he or she can’t get his or her way…

Here’s what you can do. If you’re under a time constraint and your child won’t come to you as directed, go get her, dress her yourself, then tell her that since she’s acting like a baby you’ll treat her like an infant. She won’t like this! Hold her hand while directing her to the breakfast table, sit her down in the chair while reminding her that failing to listen earned her a 5-minute, time-out, which serves as the tool to bribe. She will wine & wince and beg for a pass. Remember college psychology? I tinkered with and applied Ivan Pavlov’s Theory of Association (Classical Conditioning) to mommy-hood. Failure to listen = a time-out. Yes, when the bell rings my daughter salivates, so to speak.

If she wines and demands you get her something, say an outfit from her closet, tell her that you’ll help after she does something first, like putting her dirty clothes in the hamper. Watch and observe. She’ll listen.

If she has a tantrum and time is of no consequence, remind her that you expect more from a ____(insert age) year-old, and you won’t stand for tantrums. Leave the room and return only after the crying stops. Then tell her to use her “big girl voice.” That wining and crying aren’t effective ways to communicate with me or anyone. Then in a calm and patient manner, provide her with an actual sentence example of how to vocalize her thoughts, feelings, wants and needs.

Discuss the behavior with your child once the tantrum ends. While there’s no use trying to reason with a child in the midst of a tantrum, you both can learn a lot by discussing the incident afterwards. Explain that the behavior is unacceptable, but also make sure your child understands that you love him or her regardless. Give ’em a hug. Try to discover the cause of the tantrum if you haven’t already, and take the opportunity to discuss better alternatives with your child.

Don’t forget. Tell your child you expect an apology for her behavior. Post-Tantrum, when she says “I’m sorry.” Ask her what she is sorry about. This question will help her understand that tantrums are not acceptable. She will learn.

If you have to dash out the door with a tantrum-screaming child that hides under the table when called, assertively pick her up and carry her to the vehicle, while reminding her that you are disappointed. Kiss her goodbye before school and tell her you love her. Then, at the end of the day, even if she is in a good mood, remind her that her a.m. attitude is inappropriate. Tell her that for the rest of the day, she can make the personal choice to have a positive attitude. Ask her what her choice is. Kids like options. She’ll learn to listen.

Is your child not listening to you, time and time again? Remember that the tantrum phase will pass, and your job is to guide and love your child through these. Try to follow my examples as listed above. They work.

Writer’s note: While there are many schools of thought on the subject, I am a firm believer that spanking a child as punishment for not listening or having a tantrum is unhealthy for the parent and child and teaches:

-that you are out of control

-that hitting is an acceptable behavior

-that feelings should be suppressed and not vented (a toddler is expressing feelings in the only way they are able)

-Children learn by parents’ examples. If they do not get spanked by them, the child will be less likely to hit when upset with their peers.

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