Ice Cream or Children Screaming?

Posted On 1:23 PM by susang |

A couple of months ago, an article in the NY Times (8.19.09) described a group of parents who were trying to limit ice cream vendors at their playgrounds.

One Approach: Try to Protect the Child from a Decision
The parents complained that these vendors would come around with their enticing goodies late in the afternoon causing their children to scream for ice cream-right before dinner.The mother who spearheaded the effort to rid the playground of vendors did so after her daughter had "an inconsolable meltdown about not being able to have a treat". Parents reported that they would "tell their children they had no money" instead of dealing with the inevitable tantrum.

Like so many families in the 21st century, this apparently well-educated and certainly well-meaning group of parents were looking for a way to avoid conflict with their children.

The Who's the Boss? Approach: Help your Child to Manage their Conflicts
In fact, conflict is unavoidable. Children will seek out conflict with the people they trust and love the most-their parents-to learn the rules and to test out the limits of safe boundaries. In this case, parents could have used their children's pleas for ice cream as an opportunity to teach boundaries, delayed gratification and problem solving! Parents could help children label and understand their feelings: "I see how mad you are because it is not the right time for ice cream. That's a big disappointment!"

Instead of giving in or giving endless explanations (i.e you will spoil your dinner, sweets aren't healthy) a parent could engage in a more meaningful conversation with their child. In our book, Who's the Boss: Moving Families from Conflict to Collaboration" we offer specific guidance on how to handle these daily conflicts.
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