How To Manage A Difficult Child

How To Manage A Difficult Child

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“S/he won’t listen to me”, “S/He won’t eat despite being hungry”, “S/he is cranky all the time”. Resonates? Once the drama begins, we always start by questioning ourselves as a parent. And then feel guilty about not spending or spending too much time with our kid/s or under or overindulging them, and so on.

Remember, there is no difficult child. It is an emotional child stuck in a (difficult or a trivial) situation. We as adults know how to regulate our emotions but kids do not. The important thing is to stay by their side when they are having a meltdown. If the child has a habit to kick and hit, try to sit/stand away but in the same vicinity.

Identify the problem

Try to get to the root of the issue, without guilt-tripping yourself. Is the kid not liking the playschool, is the clothing uncomfortable, is the kid colic? If you can identify the problem, solve it. If you cannot, try the following strategies:

Stay Calm

This should be your mantra even though it’s not easy to not lose your temper when a kid is wailing continuously. But this will benefit you and the child in the longer run.

Laugh with them and around them
Laughing is the best therapy | Image: File Image

Fake it till you make it. This will not only lower your stress levels, laughing or smiling usually acts as an ice-breaker. And is contagious.

Head to a park

Nature heals in more ways than we can imagine. If the kid is not keen and being resistant to going out, stay your course. They will follow you. Do not get embarrassed if they are wailing or kicking the path while walking. Stay put in a park until all negative emotions melt away.

Reward good behaviour

Kids and even adults thrive on attention. The negative behaviour, such as banging the door, hitting, biting, throwing, attracts our immediate attention. Good behaviour is taken for granted while negative behaviour is reprimanded. If you start paying attention to their negative behaviour, why would they even behave? Reward their good behaviour. Start small. If your kid hits, start a reward system where you will give them a star (sticker or draw on their hand/chart) for every five minutes that they do not hit. Increase this time to 7, 10 mins and so on.

Do not hit
Politely make them understand | Image: File Image

Hitting a child tells them that ‘it is okay to hit when you are upset or angry’. It is your job as a parent to teach them self-control, and if you cannot control your anger, how can you expect a child to do it? And if they are still hurting you, hold their hands and say a firm ‘no’. If the kid is not doing anything that can harm or hurt someone or herself (physically), choose to ignore them for a bit and go into sit alone. That said, never shy away from the ‘time out’ strategy to educate your child about a negative consequence of her/his action. 

Let them cry

If you can bear it, let them cry it out. It’s just an emotional outburst and will die on its own.

Use affirmations

Stick a note on your fridge with 10 positive affirmations. Each time your kid starts throwing a tantrum, or you sense anything amiss, hug them and repeat any of the following affirmations:

1.     You make me smile.

2.     I am so grateful to have you.

3.     There is no one quite like you.

4.     I am so proud of you.

5.     You give the best hugs.

6.     You are so beautiful on the inside and out.

7.     I appreciate you more than you know.

8.     I am so happy when you are around.

9.     You have some amazing talents/gifts.

10.  You are so interesting.

These positive affirmations will not only help calm your child but also make you see the goodness they hold in their little hearts.

Remember, you are doing the best you can do as a parent. Just be consistent in your approach, and don’t forget to chant, “This too shall pass.”

Ananya is a Delhi-based working mother. The strategies listed here have been tested by her personally on her now five-year-old son.

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