Monday 4 April 2016

Taking A Stand on Morning Tantrums

No kid has ever liked having to brush their teeth and hair and all the other requirements that go along with having to get ready in the morning.  Mine are no different.  Alex isn't usually too bad these days, although his level of cooperation can vary sharply.  Nathan, however, has been pushing things too far.

If I call him to do his preparations first, he complains that he always has to go first and drags his feet.  If I let Alex go first, I get the wails about how it's not fair that Nathan had to wait.  He doesn't want me to look at him while he brushes his teeth or hair but then also resists and complains if I then have to do it myself.  He doesn't like how the brush feels.  He doesn't like that Alex's toothbrush dripped on his toothbrush.  He doesn't like that it's the red vitamin instead of the purple vitamin.  He hates the purple vitamin and wants an orange one.  The orange ones taste yucky.

That should give a good idea of the challenge.  I've tried the being patient and talking to him.  I've tried the mild consequences, such as having to wait for screentime.  And I've had it with the daily performance.

So today, I've made it clear.  Tantrums and lack of cooperation mean that screentime goes off the table.

As expected, Nathan is refusing to do any of his post-preparation stuff, like getting dressed or feeding the cat.  We had much yelling and throwing of things as he tries to bully us into going back to the old ways.  Now he is sulking in a corner and telling us what horrible people we are and how he's never going to watch screentime again and it's all our fault.

In other words, business as usual when we impose new standards.

I probably should have nipped this in the bud earlier, but I've been dealing with making Alex understand that he needs to actually practice brushing his teeth and hair himself if he wants to earn privileges.  Otherwise he will only do a cursory effort and then demand that I do it for him.

It's frustrating but at least I'm prepared for it.  I knew there would be a behaviour burst and I frankly expect to face the bigger and better tantrums for at least two weeks before Nathan decides that it's not worth the fight.  This is where a lot of parents cave and decide their stand isn't worth the extra drama and trauma.  Which is how behaviour problems end up getting worse because the child quickly realizes that the worse they act, the less is expected.

I hope Nathan can pull himself together.  I've had concerns about his ability to self-regulate before.  Once he's upset, he can't pull himself back until his emotions have run the course.  With him, it's all about prevention, but I can't let him continue to get away without consequences.  That's not fair to him or to the rest of the world who will have to deal with him.

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