â€œI want it nowâ€
My 3 year old is at that stage where he can be quite inconsolable when he wants something and isn't getting it. Frequently, this is for the most trivial of reasons - such as the fact that his sister has the toy he wants to play with. But whatever the cause, when it happens, he won't stop crying or get out of his mood whatever we say or do.
Yes, I know that this is normal and I have seen it a thousand times with the children that I teach, but it can be extremely stressful for you (and everybody around) when it happens.
At Perform, when children get ?stuck' in a mood and need to be brought out of it, we mostly find that distraction works brilliantly. We cheer up a child who is crying or feeling a bit lost by giving them a special job or a task to complete. All children like to feel helpful and special and, if you ask them to do something as simple as counting stickers or sorting out fruit, you'll virtually always find that they stop feeling miserable and start engaging in ?their job'.
However, when it is your own child and it is happening regularly, I've found that I needed something more powerful and also more versatile that works anywhere.
Which is how I stumbled upon my "Zip" technique. (By the way, this has only ever been tested on my own guinea pig child so please try it out on yours and get back to me).
When Tom is stuck in a tantrum and is screaming the place down, I lower my voice and firmly say ?Zip!?. That's often enough to get him quiet for a second. Enough for him to be listening as I then slowly count out loud to 10. Once I get to 10, I say ?Let's sort it out?. So it goes. ?Zip. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Let's sort it out?.
It takes about 15 seconds to do. But, by the time I've finished, his crying has calmed down and he's starting to realize that ,whatever is wrong, it can be sorted.
Now it's not a miracle - there is still a long way to go to stopping the tantrum - but the rhythmic predictable sound of counting to 10 and the anticipation of "Let's sort it out" really does seem to work (and we've tried this many times now - more's the pity!) He knows that when you get to ?Let's sort it out?, it is time to stop the hysterics and get on with solving the problem.
That's not to say that I give in to his request and take the toy from his sister, but by now he's in a much better frame of mind for me to explain why he can't have it, and distract him with something else. Tantrum over - phew!
If anyone out there has their own techniques which work, do let me know via the comments. Or, if you happen to try mine out, let me know how it goes!