You have probably been down this road a few times. Your child has something, the iPad, a lollipop, their favorite toy, and they act out or do something they aren’t supposed to do. What do we often do, we take away whatever it is that they have. A likely response from a child is to begin screaming or crying and a likely response from an adult is to give the object back just so that they “stay calm” or “don’t embarrass us in public”. But what lesson are you actually teaching a child with this kind of exchange..yell, kick, and scream and you will surely get what you want.
I often hear from parents things like “but they can go on forever screaming” or “I only gave it back for a few minutes so that is punishment enough”. When a child engages in a tantrum to gain access to something, they have done so because they learned this. Yep, I guarantee you that at some point they engaged in some sort of tantrum and successfully got what they wanted.
There are a few things to remember when taking something away from the child:
Give the child a very clear warning, don’t just take it away. For example, “The next time you run away from me you will lose the iPad for the rest of the day”.
Make the punishment realistic. I have heard so many times unrealistic punishments and that only teaches the child that they can do what they want because mom and dad won’t really take it away. For example, don’t say something like “if you do that one more time you are not going on the next school field trip” because chances are, they are going on that school field trip.
Follow through with it. If you tell them you are going to take it away the next time they do something they aren’t supposed to, do it! Don’t let your words lose their power!
Finally, children will often times tantrum longer and longer because they have learned that in the past, the longer they go, the more likely mom, dad, whoever, will give in. As long as you follow through, the first few times will be rough. But after that, your child will learn that you mean business, and you likely won’t have much of an issue going forward in the future. Remember, you are not a bad parent for taking something away (as long as they understand ahead of time how and why it will be taken away), you are teaching them that there are consequences to our actions in life!
By Shaina Braun of Parenting in Motion.