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Tempers... how to get control of out of control
As we don't have the specific ages of your children, we can only give you some
general information. You mentioned tempers and out-of-control behavior. Most
important is that you keep yourself in control. We have a great article called
Keeping Your Cool When Kids Push Your Buttons.
Take a look at that article. Many things happen when parents lose their cools.
First, judgment and decision making is impaired when parents become too angry.
You may find yourself behaving in ways that make the situation worse such as
yelling at your kids, giving them unreasonable consequences, or escalating the
arguments. When you become more angry and out-of-control, your kids may too. So,
remember that it's a great idea to take a time-out yourself. Let your kids know
that you need some time before discussing the situation or setting consequences.
Go into another room and do some deep breathing, stretching, or go outside for a
short walk if your kids are old enough to be left for a few minutes. Take a look
on our article about
Stress for some additional hints.
When you are calm, your kids won't "win". If they know what button to push and
are successful, they have won the game. Throw them a curve ball and stay
calm...win the game yourself. In other words, maintain control by remaining
calm. When your kids are out-of-control, they may be asking for some control.
They are pushing you to set limits as they are still learning how to set limits
for themselves. When you get too angry, you will teach them that dealing with
problems requires becoming angry and out-of-control.
Next, if your children are frequently out-of-control due to tempers flaring, use
time-outs to help them regain control. Time-outs will also teach your kids how
to take care of themselves when they are too angry to problem solve. Time-outs
will give them a time to cool down before rejoining the family. We have just
posted a wonderful article on
Don't forget to pick your battles. Kids give parents many opportunities to
battle every day. You may want to keep a journal of what types of behaviors push
your buttons and what you battle over. If you find that you are battling daily
about what your kids are wearing to school, for example, you may need to
reevaluate the importance of that battle. But, if your child is hitting his
sibling, that's a behavior that needs to stop.
Next, make sure that you have set up clear consequences for behavior in your
home. Your kids also need to be clear on their consequences so they can make
appropriate choices for their behavior. You can involve your kids in this
process. Sit down with them and list the behaviors that are absolutely not o.k.
in your home. For instance, hitting a sibling, jumping on a couch, swearing,
yelling, etc. Then, list a consequence for that behavior. If your kids are old
enough, they can help decide on the consequence. Use consequences like taking
t.v. or computer time away, taking a toy away, taking friend time away, etc.
List these consequences on paper and put them up for all to see. Then when you
are dealing with the behavior, give your children one warning, and if they don't
stop the behavior, give them the consequence. Make it clear to your kids that
this will be how you will dole out consequences so they are aware of the
You can also try using behavior charts to reward positive behavior. Take one or
two behaviors at a time and work on them until they are under control. The
rewards will depend on the ages of your kids. If your kids are older, they can
have a weekly reward. Don't expect perfection. If they mark their charts 4 days
out of 7, they can get a reward. You can increase the number of days as they
make better choices with their behavior. Give them extra t.v. time or let them
pick a dinner or have dollar store items available. We have a list of rewards
for appropriate ages on this
page. If your kids are younger, they may
need a daily reward to reinforce positive behavior. If you haven't used behavior
charts before, look at our page on Using Behavior Charts.
Finally, don't forget to catch your kids being good! People respond to positive
feedback. Think about yourself. When someone complements your work, doesn't it
give you motivation to continue doing a good job? Your kids need to hear
positive words. It will motivate them. Check out our
75 Ways To Say Good Job. You may have to
look hard for the positives if you are in a negative cycle, but they are there.
My daughter hates me and doesn't listen to me,
what can I do to change this? -Janine, England
Children may say that they hate you or act out in ways that seem hateful.
Unfortunately, that's their job some of the time. And it's a parent's job to
continue to calmly set limits and respond in an adult way to this behavior. When
your child tells you in anger that she hates you, she is really saying something
like, "I don't like the consequence you just gave me" or "I want you to feel bad
because I do right now". Saying "I hate you" may be a strategy your child is
using to get what she wants. But, keep in mind that we sometimes hurt the ones
we love. Why? Because it's safe. Children may save their worst, meanest, most
difficult behavior for family members because at home, they get unconditional
love. No matter what they do or say, parents, siblings, and grandparents will still
love them. So, it's safe the let out these strong emotions at home. At times,
kids will overreact to a simple rule or consequence due to frustration with
something else in their lives. Maybe there was a problem at school or with a
friend. You may want to check in with your daughter to make sure that her
behavior is not a symptom of a bigger issue.
Most important is how you respond to your child when she says "I hate you" or
acts in a hateful manner. As a parent, it's your job to stay calm and not be
drawn into an emotional conflict. If you act emotionally, then your daughter has
won the battle. She's made you feel bad. When a child acts hatefully or says "I
hate you" it's appropriate to validate her emotions and stand your ground in a
calm, controlled manner. For example, you might say, "I hear that you're angry
but you still can't go out tonight" or "Maybe you feel like you hate me right
now because you're angry. I love you and if you need to talk I'm here." Never
tell your child that you hate her too. If you need to take some time to cool
down before you respond to your daughter's hateful words or actions, do. You can
let her know that you need a short time-out and you will continue the
conversation after some cool down time. In this way, you will be role modeling
appropriate coping mechanisms.
Regarding your daughter not listening to you, your approach with her depends a
bit on her age which is an unknown here. So in general, if she continues to do
what she wants instead of listening, then it's been working for her, and she
doesn't have any motivation to behave differently. Kids will continue to
exhibit behavior that works. For instance, if you ask her to do a chore and she
doesn't do it, and there are no consequences, then why should she do the chore
the next time you ask? Ignoring you works just fine for her. Why should she change
As a parent, you need to motivate her to listen. Make time to
talk to her without distractions. Set up some behavior expectations and
consequences for her. Write your expectations down on paper along with
appropriate consequences. We've just made up a couple new charts for listing
expectations. You can find them
here. If your daughter is old enough, you can involve her in
the process. What does she think are fair consequences? Usually, kids are harder
on themselves than parents! Make a point to sit down with her and discuss your
expectations and the consequences involved if she chooses not to listen. If she
needs some motivation, try using a behavior chart and reward system. We have a
variety of charts for all ages, and if you need a special chart made up, just let
us know. If you start making your daughter accountable for
her actions, then she will begin to listen. Also, we always recommend the book
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber.
This is a great resource for all parents.
Best of luck and let us know if we can help any further!
My daughter age is 4 she is in lkg (lower
kindergarten). She forgets all her lessons & does not remember - Anita, India
First, as we are not as familiar with the expectations of the school system in
India, forgive us if we are a bit off base answering this question. In our
country, we would encourage a parent to go directly to a child's teacher with
these type of concerns. Your child's teacher would best know if she is learning
at a normal pace for her age. Four is young, and a child of this age may still
have difficulty focusing on studies for long periods. Your child's teacher may
have some helpful information for you. So again, bring your concerns up with her
Next, you may want to rule out any difficulty with her sight or hearing. If she
is not seeing or hearing her lessons at a normal level, she may not comprehend
as well. Vision or hearing screening may be appropriate if you and her teachers
feel it's necessary.
Remember that children all learn differently and at different paces. Your
daughter may be a bit less mature than her classmates at this young age and may
just need to mature a bit more. Do you work on her lessons at home? You may want
to consider putting in some extra time with her at home. If she is not too
interested in doing lessons at home, you can use one of our reward charts
as an incentive. Have her mark her chart every time she works on lessons. If
you'd like, you can also give her a small treat in addition to marking the chart
. Make her lesson time fun and rewarding. We'd be happy to make up a special
chart to suit her interests. Just
let us know.
Most important, don't get into battles over her school work. She is young, and
the goal is to give her a positive school experience. If she senses that she can
win the battle by not doing her work, then she might try this strategy. Stay
positive and supportive and get in touch with school personnel if you have
further concerns. Good luck!
How do I make my kids respect me without being
First, you cannot make anyone respect you. Respect is earned. As we've mentioned
in the past, respect starts with you, the parent. Parents need to demonstrate
respect and treat children politely and respectfully if they expect to receive
respect in return. Parents also need to role model respectful behavior toward others.
It's confusing for children if parents act rude or disrespectful but expect
respect from their children. So be aware of your own behavior.
If you find that your buttons are being pushed and you are acting "mean", then
you have lost control as a parent and are not demonstrating respect. As the
parent, you need to remain calm and set limits with your kids instead of getting
into emotional conflicts. When you get drawn into the battles, your children have
won, and you'll find that you're not acting very respectfully. You may begin to act
in a "mean" way and this will not gain your children's respect.
Be one step ahead of the game by preparing a set of behaviors and consequences
that you can discuss with your children. If your kids are old enough, they can
help with the process. Write out some problem behaviors and some consequences,
and post them in your home. Consequences need to be reasonable and age
appropriate. This way, your kids will know the consequences ahead of time. If
you see one of them demonstrating a problem behavior, you can give him one
warning. If the behavior doesn't end, you can calmly refer to your consequence
chart and give him the consequence. You can find a
premade consequence chart
here (entitled household
expectations) If you're prepared, it's much easier to stay calm and act respectfully,
even if you are doling out consequences! You can also try a
reward chart for one or all of your kids. If the kids are all participating in
one difficult behavior (i.e. they are fighting) you can set up a behavior chart
that will reward them all at the same time. This way, they have to work
together to achieve the reward. We have an
example reward chart here if you need some
tips on how to use one.
In addition, teach your kids how to be respectful. If you hear your child
speaking to someone disrespectfully, gently let her know that her choice of
words is not o.k. Help her think of ways to express her feelings without being
disrespectful. For instance, have her say, "I don't like when you call me names"
instead of "stop it jerk". Also, we highly recommend the book
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber.
This is a great resource for all parents.
Finally, don't forget to praise your children's respectful behavior. Let them
know when you see their respectful behavior. You might say, "I like the way you
said please". Check out our
75 Ways to Say Good Job! Slowly, you'll start to see
more respect in you home if you stay calm and show respect too!
How do I "try to control my kids"? -Lisette,
It's difficult to answer your question without more information. In general,
summer can be a tricky time for parents. Unless kids are involved in structured
activities, the sudden lack of structure can contribute to some acting out and
out-of-control behavior. First, evaluate whether your kids need more structure.
Is there too much free time in your home? Check out our newest article "Sibling Fighting, Backtalk,
and Yelling-It Must Be Summer". This great article will give you
some summer survival tips!
Next, as we've had almost the exact same question from another viewer, we will
not repeat ourselves. You can find our response regarding out of control
If you have some specific issues that you would like help with, please don't
Hope this helps!
A chart with "did I talk back or frown my face
when my mom asked me to do something" -Paul, PA
We have added the charts you requested. You
can find them
here. We've made up two different
types of charts. With one chart, you can track your child's behavior for
the whole day and mark one space/day. The other chart allows you to mark
off each time your child listens nicely. Hope the charts work for you, and let
us know if you need any revisions!
My 4 year old daughter don't do work in the
school. But at home she completes her home work daily. What should I do for her?
- Ginny, U.P.
As school expectations in your country are different than here in the U.S., bear
with us as we try to answer your question the best we can. Your daughter is
young and new to the school system. She has just begun learning how to work in
class, among other children. Due to your daughter's age, she will need time to
adjust to this environment. Because she is able to get work done at home, you
know that she is capable. She may be having a hard time focusing in the
classroom. She may become distracted by other children or events happening in
the classroom which make it difficult for her to get work done at school. Talk
with your child's teacher to see if she is having difficulty focusing. Or, maybe
it's possible for you to observe your daughter in class. If she is indeed having
trouble paying attention in class, she may need her seat/desk moved to a
different spot with fewer distractions. Depending on how the class is set up,
moving her may help. Definitely share your concerns with the teacher if
Also, is there anything at school that bothers your daughter? Does she get along
with her peers and teacher? She may be having difficulty working due to anxiety
over something at school. Maybe she is not getting along with another student or
doesn't like the teacher. Talk with your daughter to see how she likes school.
Also, meet with the teacher to get her perspective. She may be able to help
increase your understanding of the situation.
Ginny, your daughter may outgrow this as she becomes more adjusted to working in
the school environment. But, if it continues to be a problem, you need to work
together with her teacher and develop some strategies to help her. By
questioning your daughter about her school experience and observing her in the
classroom, you will most likely find an explanation for her behavior.
Best of luck and let us know if there is anything else we can do!