Brooklyn-based social worker Michael Matasci, LMSW, who has almost two decades of experience working with stressed families and challenged children, provides tips for parents on how to deal with their child’s demands and calm their frustrations in a constructive and successful way, without blowing up or giving in.
Giving in to your kids’ demands seems like the easiest way to stop them from annoying, nagging, and whining. But does that really serve your child’s best interest? Does caving in—so you can have a few moments to finish your coffee in the morning—really help them in the long run?
More than likely, by giving in you are teaching your kids that they can get what they want at your expense. And even worse, this will teach them that their behavior 'pays off.'
Instead, try to give them 10 minutes of feeling frustrated, without giving in or placating them with promises of a reward.
Let them learn how to endure their own frustration. The silent treatment, when you are firm, will not feed into their whining and demanding noises. Let them see you are not frustrated, but rather that you are firm in your intention not to cave in to their every demand.
How do we find a compromise?
Notice if they are experiencing other feelings of anger or anxiety and, once they’ve calmed down, let them know you’ve heard their concerns and are now willing to problem solve. But never do this when they are escalating—or, as I like to put it, when they’re at a ‘10’ on a scale from 1 to 10 (the most angry, upset, frustrated)—since this is when they can’t reason or relate rationally enough. Let them cool down, and then you can voice your concerns and let them express their concerns. From that point, negotiate a reasonable solution together.
What if my child has special needs?
If your child has learning difficulties or an inability to “read” your signals, such as a no-nonsense facial expression, then perhaps more help may be needed from an experienced professional. But typically, the child would benefit from extra patience and understanding.
Giving in to your child’s frustrations seems like the easiest path. But with a little bit of patience, and after teaching your child the skills that will allow him/her to build a tolerance, feelings of frustration will be gradually replaced by a more confident and self-controlled child.
Michael Matasci, LCSW, has almost 20 years experience working with stressed families and challenged children. Matasci received his master’s in social work from Fordham University and currently provides psychotherapy and counseling services for adolescents and adults in Brooklyn. To contact Matasci, email [email protected]
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