Wednesday, October 11, 2006

How do I say no to my child?

Here is our first question. Submitted yesterday.

Dear Diana,

My son is 3 years old, he's a wonderful little boy with a big heart who brings nothing but joy to our lives. The problem is that he won't take no for an answer. Yesterday we went to the ice cream store and they didn't have his favorite ice cream flavor so he threw a tantrum and then demanded I give him my ice cream. I told him no and he threw another temper tantrum.I vas very mortified because everyone in the store was staring at us so we had to leave. He does this everywhere we go, and even at home. He doesn't let other children near his toys or his playroom. I have told him it isn't nice not to share but he just won't listen. When we visit my sister, who has a son close in age, my son will take over his toys and not give them back no matter how much we insist.
I will not hit my child, but how else can I teach him to share and stop being so selfish?

Carmen Los Angeles, CA


We always must teach our children self-control and respect for other's property. We also need to make sure they understand that life is not all about them. If you continue to give your child everything he wants, he will grow up expecting you and everyone else to give it to him.

I assume your son is an only child, and it isn't easy to teach our children the concept of ownership and sharing but it must be done. Your son isn't too young or too old to learn this. Who wants their son or daughter to play with a selfish child? Children are born selfish, and going against what comes naturally isn't easy; it takes a lot of hard work and consistency but it gets results.

Let your child see and hear about children who have much less. Tell them stories with good role models of giving, show them stories or movies on tv about disadvantaged children (make sure you watch with them)
Better than buying gifts for them to give to others, allow them to do a few special chores to earn money to purchase a gift. Or, they could help you bake some treats to give to someone who is alone at Christmas. Take the children along to see the person's grateful reaction to their gift. It will be an unforgettable experience. If a child is being selfish and doesn't want to give anything, let them experience the feeling of being left out when others have something to give and they don't.

Self-restraint and self-control are very important. Young children may think that they have a right to touch anything that catches their attention, but they must learn to restrain themselves and respect another person's home and things. Of course this is a lot easier to teach if your child has personal property of his own that others must respect (such as special toys, a blanky, etc). Each home should have share-toys (toys to share and take turns using for everyone at home and when people come over). This will let them practice sharing without the risk involved of something special of theirs being ruined. One way to avoid tantrums over sharing is to let your child hide a few of his most precious toys before any friends come over. Tell him these toys are ones he doesn't have to share, then put them away and do not let him access them while other children are visiting. Make sure your child is aware that what's left out is for everyone to share and ENFORCE this behavior. If your son attempts to share, praise his efforts. Also, kids learn by imitating what they see, so take every opportunity to show your child how to share.

Hope this helps!


No comments: