What parent hasn’t experienced the dreaded scene of their young child screaming at the top of her lungs in a crowded grocery store after you have said “no” to a toy, candy bar, box of cereal, or a _______(you fill in the blank)?
Here are some tips to calm, or avoid altogether, the grocery store meltdown with your toddler or young child:
1) Shop only when your child is well-rested and well-fed
Many tantrums can be avoided by making sure your child’s basic needs are met before setting foot in the store. Don’t push your child by going on too many errands, skipping your toddlerâ€™s naptime, or delaying meals just to get just “one more” errand done.
2) Try to “go back” strategy
Instruct your child ahead of time that they may hold one item at a time while in the store (and buckled in the seat of the shopping cart), and as soon as you get to the checkout line they are to give it to the clerk and say, “this is a go back”. Explain that they are giving it back to the store, so that they can hold it next time.
3) Is it on the list?
Keep a grocery store list on the fridge that your child can ask you to add items to before entering the store. But once you set foot in the store, the list cannot be altered. When he asks, “Can I get that candy?” you respond, “Is it on the list? Oh, no, it’s not. Let’s add it when we get home for our next grocery store visit.” This gives your child the skill to influence what is purchased at the store next time and it lets “the list” be the bad guy, instead of you.
4) Let people stare
No matter what brilliant parenting strategies you try, sometimes your child will continue to cry, scream, and protest about not getting what they want. People who stare at you with that “you’re such a bad parent” look have probably never been a parent, or were a parent so long ago that they can’t remember what it’s really like. Let them stare, quickly finish up your shopping, and get out of there!
Licensed clinical social worker and therapist, Julie Hanks, has a step by step plan to offer support and find solutions to your child’s attention difficulties.
Your child is having problems finishing schoolwork or paying attention at school. You wonder “is it ADHD”? Parents have a variety of responses when the teacher calls to express concern about their child’s school performance or behavior. You may wonder if you’ve “failed” as a parent. You may feel sadness for your child’s struggle. You may want to dismiss the teacher’s concerns. Here is a step-by-step plan to help you support your child, to find answers, and to find solutions to your child’s attention difficulties. You are your child’s best advocate!
STEP 1-Get the facts
What are the teacher’s specific concerns? Ask for specifics on problem areas. Is there a certain time of day or a certain subject is particularly difficult for your child to concentrate?
What is your child’s experience? Ask your child about his or her experience. What are they feeling, thinking, wanting, and needing when they are having difficulty concentrating.
EXAMPLE (from a teacher’s perspective) – Krystal, a 2nd grade teacher, says that calling parents regarding attention or learning problems is difficult. “I hate making those phone calls (to parents), especially when the parent just doesn’t want to accept it. A lot of times it is their first experience. Since I teach in the lower grades I often have the first student in their family so they really don’t know what “normal” looks like. From a teacher’s point of view, I appreciate parents who will work with me to help their child be successful in school. I support whatever decision they make in regard to medicating or not, just as long as they are actively seeking help and a solution, too. I’ve already had to have a few of these conversations this year, and it never gets any easier. It’s such a delicate issue.”
STEP 2 – Examine the environment
Health issues, class room distractions, peer problems, family stresses, family losses, skipping breakfast, eating too much sugar or caffeine, sleep deprivation are just a few of the environmental factors that may lead to difficulty concentrating and completing school work.
EXAMPLE – Several years ago I counseled a family whose son was distracted, rambunctious, fidgety, and was having difficulty completing work and getting along with peers. In seeking solutions to help her son succeed in school and in relationships, his mother looked for factors in the environment that may be exacerbating his attention difficulties. She also suspected that there was a nutritional component involved, and found that he focused better when he ate fewer processed and sugary foods. She worked with her pediatrician to find effective medication, and met with natural health care providers to find nutritional supplements that were effective for her son. She also accepted that he was born with a high-energy temperament and needed a lot of physical activity, so she enrolled him in swimming, running and other sports.
STEP 3 – Translate problems into needs
When your child’s teacher identifies a problem behavior, ask yourself “What does my child need?” He or she might need extra time to finish work, may need to move to the front of the room, may need incentives to stay on task, may need to bring work home, a tutor after school to develop academic skill, a therapist to help with behavior modification or emotional coping skills, and more physical activity during school.
EXAMPLE – A family I’ve worked with for several years has a young daughter with Asperger’s and ADHD. The mother, a schoolteacher by profession, understands this concept of translating her child’s problems into needs and is an amazing advocate for her daughter. Here are a few examples of how one mother has helped translate problem behaviors into needs.
A) Problem – not completing work during school
Need – decreased volume of school work as long as she showed competency in that area, bringing home work to finishÂ at home
B) Problem – difficulty staying on task at school
Need – behavioral charts to reinforce completion of work, ADHD medication, frequent breaks from learning to exert physical energy
C) Problem – angry outbursts, self-harming behavior
Need – healthier ways to express frustration and anger, individual and family therapy
STEP 4 – Focus on your child’s strengths
Every child has strengths that will help him or her overcome life challenges. Many children who have attention difficulties have other strengths including creativity, sensitivity, energy, independence, and flexibility.
In which area does your child have natural strengths and abilities? Howard Gardener’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences is a helpful tool in identifying your child’s natural intelligence.
Which style best describes your child’s learning style? How can you use you adapt your child’s educational experience to his or her learning style?
STEP 5 – Build a support team
Solutions are a team effort with the child, teacher, parents, and school counselor. Put a specific behavioral plan in place that all agree on to help your child succeed. If problems persist, consult a pediatrician or child therapist for help with a specific diagnosis and treatment options for ADD/ADHD.
EXAMPLE – Recently, I worked with a blended family whose son has been diagnosed with ADHD and anxiety. Their multidisciplinary support team includes his schoolteacher overseeing behavioral interventions at school, a child psychiatrist monitoring medication, a social skills group to help their son get along better with peers, a therapist to help develop emotional coping skills, and a couples therapist to help parents manage their own stressors.
Finding solutions that work for your child means identifying the specific problems, advocating for your child needs, and building a team to help support your child succeed in his educational experience.
Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW is a therapist, self & relationship expert, media contributor, and director of Wasatch Family Therapy. Visit www.wasatchfamilytherapy.com for individual, couple, family, & group counseling services designed to strengthen you and your family. We treat mental health and relationship problems in children, adolescents, and adults.
As we decorated our home for Christmas this year, my 4 year old demanded to set up the nativity scenes. I started advising her to how to “correctly” set up the scenes, then quickly stopped myself, realizing that what she’d done was quite profound. Out of the mouth of babes…
May you have a Christ-centered Christmas filled with hope and faith and joy in Christ.
Examine your own expectations and let go of some things so you’ll be your best version of yourself and able to manage family conflict calmly.
2-You can’t try to please everyone
It’s not your job to make everyone happy and meet their expectations of you. Remember “no one died from disappointment!”
3-Schedule down time
Especially if you have family coming to stay with you during the holidays make sure to carve out time for you and for your marriage. Build self-care into the schedule so you don’t get too overwhelmed.
4-Start with your own family then move outward
Ask yourself, your spouse, and your children how THEY want to spend their time, and make that top priority.
5-Just because you’ve always done it doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it
Traditions are meant to create meaning and promote bonding, not bondage. Choose to skip out on some of the expected things. That’s the beauty of being an adult — you get to choose what you want to do.
6-Set expectations ahead of time
If you know that in the past there have been conflicts, address it ahead of time. Where will family be staying? If you’re hosting a party what are your expectations of others?
7-No on can “guilt trip” you without consent
When you’re approached by a family member about an event you’re not attending or why you didn’t spend as much money as someone spent on you, don’t take the bait!
8-Answer those awkward questions with confidence
You’ve go to love those questions like “So your husband’s still unemployed?” or “So you finally decided to come to OUR Christmas party this year?” answer directly and with confidence.
9-Assume other’s best intentions
With so many expectations swirling, too much sugar, and not enough sleep, it’s easy to get offended if a sister in law forgot to give you a gift, or if your uncle makes an off-handed comment about your parenting skills. Assume the BEST instead of the worst case scenario for their motive.
10-Listen to others graciously and do what you want to do
While it’s nice if everyone’s expectations are met, it’s unlikely. Empathize with your extended family’s disappointment that you couldn’t make their party or you chose to opt out of a certain tradition, and then continue with your holiday plans.
Although many radio stations start playing Christmas music Nov. 1st, I choose to wait until Thanksgiving is over to break out the Christmas music. A few years ago my dad Lex gave his daughters original arrangements of Christmas carols! One of the benefits of having a composer father and talented sisters. Enjoy!
If I ever get the chance to produce a Christmas CD, what songs would you like included on it?
I was invited to weigh in on the subject of daughters and makeup for a popular woman’s website SheKnows.com. Having gone through the makeup transition several years ago with my 16 year old daughter, and having dealt with parent child struggles in my therapy practice, I had a few things to say.
â€œMakeup often represents an adolescent girl’s eagerness and excitement to become a ‘grown up,’ and explore her attractiveness to peers, but for parents, it can bring up fear and stress relating to their child maturing and becoming interested in boys,â€ says Julie Hanks, a psychotherapist specializing in family relationships. â€œIt may also represent a daughter pulling away from her parents to focus more on peers, which may feel scary for some parents.â€
I responded to a reported request yesterday for an “expert” to comment on spoiled kids. When I got the questions it was about Suri Cruise’s being seen, at age 4 using an iPad and my comments ended up on E! Online article “She Has an iPad – So is Suri Cruise Spoiled?” Kinda fun.