Nothing unleashes a preschooler’s inner beast quite like extracting him from a fun environment without advanced warning.
When my daughter was 4 years old she had an epic outburst at a children’s museum in Chicago because I failed to give her proper notification of our departure. In doing so, I robbed her of the gradual transition I knew she needed in order to calmly exit the building.
The fit she threw nearly got us thrown out of the museum.
Looking back, my preschooler’s tantrum, which included tossing her shoes down a slide, was simply her way of staying true to herself. My daughter has always needed a bit more time to transition from one activity to another. I knew this and should have expected nothing less than a monster meltdown at the museum.
Bottom line: No one knows your child better than you do. This parent-child connection should be used to your advantage when it comes to dealing with your preschooler’s defiant behavior. A connected child wants to please his parents, but can only do so if mom and dad establish clear expectations. In addition to creating a set of rules, it’s important that you foster conditions that make these rules easier to follow.
Controlling a preschooler’s environment is a parent’s job, as is setting limits and providing structure. In addition, proper communication is another extremely important component in raising a child. Parents often get caught up in the heat of the moment. This is especially true when your preschooler is pitching a fit in the middle of Target. Remembering to talk to your child respectfully even when he’s in mid-rage will be much more productive than losing it yourself. Modeling bad behavior will only cause more headaches down the road.
As important as it is to learn how to talk to a child properly, it is equally important to learn to listen. Nothing wins over a child more than giving him your complete attention and conveying that you value his viewpoint. What’s more, if you make the effort to consistently listen to your preschooler, he is more apt to reciprocate.