Have you ever heard of Love and Logic? If not, check out their website sometime. They have a lot of helpful tips on how to handle different behavior situations. I usually find the idea I need, then tweek it to fit our family better. Here are a few tips I'll share with you:
Terrible Tantrums: My four year old daughter throws horrible, violent, and rather frightening tantrums. They usually start with her huffing and puffing, then the flailing of the extremities begins, followed by the screaming, then running around the room and hitting or kicking anything and anyone in sight. I am being completely honest here, these tantrums were so bad that I actually ended up locking myself in my bedroom and hiding until she gave up 10-15 minutes later. I would sit on my bed and cry, ready to give up, as I listened to her slam doors and knock things over. I knew something had to be done.
I tried a few different things until I finally found one that worked. It's actually a few combined into one. So here's what we do now. I posted a "I can calm myself down" sign at her level, and I refer her to the sign when I notice her getting upset. If that step fails and the tantrums becomes worse, I kneel down to her level and ask if she needs a hug ("Hug It Out" technique). If the hug fails, I tell her she needs to "Go Cool Off". In the corner of the dining room I posted a sign at her level, right above her little chair that says "Cool Off Corner". She usually will go when I suggest it, but if she refuses, I pick her up and put her in the chair myself. She then gets a smiley face ice pack to hold so she can "cool off". We set the timer for four minutes (minutes=age). After the timer goes off I ask her if she is cooled off enough to get up and play. A few times she has said no and asked to sit longer. I just say "Okay, take as long as you need". When she has decided she is calm, I put the ice pack back in the freezer and we sit down and talk about what happened. I make sure to include the questions "What made you angry?", "Do you think that was the right way to act about it?", "What should you have done instead?", and "What do you need to do now?". We always follow our calm down talk with a hug. Good as new!
It's definitely not easy, but if you're consistent and stick with it, the child will get used to it, and eventually the tantrums will become less frequent, and the child will soon learn to recognize their angry feelings and calm themselves down before the tantrums start. If this helps ANY of you frustrated moms out there, then I am happy to have posted this! :) Next problem...
Disrespect: Some of you may agree that disrespect is NOT acceptable. If you don't agree, then you probably don't care how your kids act or what they say, which means you're probably not even reading this. Which brings me to my first tip... Kids do what they see. If you want your kids to be respectful, then YOU need to be respectful. Teach them respect by being respectful to others in how you act, and things you say or do. If you show them respect, they are more likely to show you respect. For instance, if you're constantly yelling and saying things like "Why the **** did you do that?!?! What is wrong with you?!?!", then think of how you're teaching them to react. They're going to think it's okay to respond with yelling and hurtful words. But if you instead say in a calm voice "Why did you do that? Do you think that was a good choice?" then you're going to get much better responses from the child, and they will know you care and respect them enough not to yell at them, even though you may be angry. Just remember to stay calm! As hard as it may be to not raise your voice, you have to learn to control it before it comes out. Bet you didn't know your child's behavior was a 50/50 deal, huh?
So here's what happened tonight at my house.. My seven year old daughter was caught breaking a few rules while we had company. I tried to calmly tell her she broke the rules and gave her a few warnings, until I finally had to ask her to go up to her room until I could go speak with her about her behavior. Well, she didn't want to go up to her room, so she instead started crying and having an emotional meltdown right there in front of our guest. I was SO embarrassed! I finally was able to persuade her to go to her room (threatening to take away her favorite toys). She tried sneaking down a few times, but I just reminded her of the consequences. During her time in her room, her little sister joined her to keep her company, and all they did was fight! I was so tired of hearing the screaming and yelling and tattling! I'm sure our company was tired of it, too!
After our guest left, I asked them both to come back into the living room. I told them plain and simple "I am NOT happy.". I could tell by their faces they knew I was serious. We sat in a circle on the floor and I told them to tell each other one thing that makes them angry about the other. One said "I don't like it when you pinch and hit me.", and the other said "I don't like it when you shut the light off and scare me.". I said "Okay, was that so hard?", they nodded, "So why couldn't you have said that to each other upstairs instead of fighting?", they shrugged. I had them apologize to each other and hug. Then I had them tell each other one thing they like about the other. One said "I like your smile.", and the other said "I like it when you read to me.". By this time they were both smiling and no longer scowling at each other. I told them both something I like about them, and we again "hugged it out". I explained to them how important it is to show respect to each other and to everyone else, like our guest. After putting them both in a better mood, I sent them off to bed, and the rest of the night went smoothly.
If you just take the time to talk to them, listen to them, and hug them, life will be a LOT easier, I promise! Something so easy can seem so difficult, but it's really not hard. It just requires a little patience and lots of love :) Don't give up!
Oh, and as for the little guy in the middle of the picture, well, he really IS a little angel ... for now ;)