Stop saying No

By INÊS LOPES [email protected]

Inês Lopes joined the Algarve Resident 13 years ago and has been Editor since 2005. She is also the mother of a 2-year-old boy who has so actively contributed to this column.

This could be the title for a review of Jim Carrey’s latest movie, Yes Man, but that’s not what I intend to write here.

The word ‘No’ has become a real burden for me. It’s actually getting in the way of me building a healthy relationship with my two-year-old son.

He is a misbehaved child and there’s no other way of describing him. Who’s fault? More than likely mine. Okay, he has an adorable, angelic face that could fool anybody but, believe me, he is a little menace.

First of all, I’m no childcare expert, but one thing I have learnt, the word No has become a hindrance in my interactions with my son. When I need to reprimand my son for breaking his toys or throwing them across the room, if I say ‘No, don’t do that’, he simply answers back with another ‘No’. In fact, he pronounces the nasal sound of the Portuguese ‘Não’ so well…

If I say ‘No, you can’t have a lollipop now, it’s lunchtime’, he will throw himself on the floor in the middle of the supermarket, I go bright red with embarrassment, shout at my husband for just standing there doing nothing and our shopping trip is over.

Teaching a child to be good, to respect others, to behave in public, to be patient and so on is tough. Nothing new here. Educating a child is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life and I’m learning with every tantrum my son throws my way.

I once read in a book that grandparents should be responsible for raising their grandchildren as the parents are too inexperienced for the task and often get it wrong, the result being children with behavioural problems and more susceptible to taking the wrong path in life.

As asking my parents to raise my child is out of the question, I live in the comfort that I’m not alone in this world and that there are millions of other parents out there sharing the same frustrations and probably, like me, resorting to the web for help. I came across a few good websites that offer great advice to parents on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

On th right of this page, you will find my selection of websites along with some great tips to get the little menaces of this world under control.

Public Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums often occur because children are not getting the attention that they crave, because they feel out of control, because they want something that is unavailable to them and/or because they become excessively tired or hungry, and these needs cloud their judgement.

Experts advise that the best way to cope with a child’s public temper tantrum is to wait it out. Parents must remain calm and in control. If possible, children should be moved to an area of some privacy (even if it means returning to the car outside of a busy shopping centre) and allowed to work through their emotions.

Stop saying no

Studies show that toddlers typically hear the word “no” 400 times daily, which gets tiresome for the parents and the child. Parents can learn to use different ways to communicate limits that are mutually favourable.

Example: If a child asks to go out and play, but it’s close to dinner time, if you simply respond by saying no, it can sometimes create a tantrum. You can rephrase your response to: “Yes, you can go out and play after dinner”.

Handling tantrums

Don’t scream back if you can possibly help it. Anger is very infectious and you may well find yourself becoming angrier with every yell your child utters.

Don’t let the child feel rewarded or punished for a tantrum. You want her to see that tantrums, which are horrible for her, change nothing, either for or against her.

Don’t let tantrums embarrass you into kid-glove handling. Many parents dread tantrums in public places but you must not let your toddler sense your concern.

Your toddler will get bigger, stronger and more able to manage things better; that means that she will meet less extreme frustration in her everyday life. She will turn into a reasonable and communicative human being. Just give her time.

Coping with whining and moaning

Don’t reward whining by giving your child what she wants – this only teaches her that it’s the best method of getting her own way.

Deal with obvious causes you can sort out, such as tiredness, hunger and boredom.

Give plenty of positive attention when your child asks nicely or behaves well.

I look forward to hearing from parents who have or have had experience with naughty toddlers!