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No fighting

There will be moments when parents and children disagree with one another. Instead of letting this disagreement get out of control and lead to a worse scenario, parents can consider taking a step back.

When there is no opponent, the child will not fight or keep up his argument. No one is defeated or victorious. More importantly, the child learns how to turn something negative into something positive.

Most family battles are fought during mealtimes and bedtime. Parents who insist their preschoolers eat properly at designated times often find themselves in conflict with their children.

One day, as I was going out, I turned to my neighbour’s house and saw her youngest child, a six-year-old with a bowl in her hands, eating away under the hot sun.

My neighbour told me that she had sent her daughter out to eat her lunch after failing to coax her several times to finish her meal without talking and wasting time.

She tried threatening her daughter with the cane if she did not finish all her food. That did not work. So this time, she decided this was the best way to get her to eat without talking.

When preschoolers fight with their parents, their immediate goal is to gain power. The six-year-old who got sent out of the house with her bowl of rice firmly stood her ground.

She would not behave at the table. She displayed her ability to do as she wanted and engaged her mother in battle.

She managed to stop everyone from eating lunch, too. While she ate outside the house, her mother, grandmother and sister stood at the door to watch her. This was sheer power gained on her part.

There are several approaches to this problem. The parent can remove herself from the conflict situation. Instead of constantly nagging her child to eat, the mother can start the mealtime by telling her how long she has to complete her meal.

Once time is up and the food has not been finished, the table will be cleared without a word. The child may have to wait until tea-time or dinner before she can fill her stomach.

To avoid a power struggle, parents can also carry out what they want their children to do firmly without fussing over them. If you want your child to go to bed, just take him by the hand and lead him to the bedroom to change into his pyjamas.

Do so without paying attention to any form of whining or protest from your child. Eventually, your child will know that you mean business at bedtime.

When your child starts to whine or seek attention for his misbehaviour, you can walk away without talking. Go to a place in the house where you can have some personal time for a retreat.

Do so every time your child chooses to act up instead of using positive behaviour to get your attention. By physically removing yourself from a potential conflict with your child, you are teaching him that you will only deal with reasonable demands and positive behaviour.

When my girls were preschoolers, I would remove the object they were both fighting over without a word. I would take it with me to my “time-out place” until their screaming stopped. When all was well, I would then make my appearance.

Before things get out of hand, parents can choose to take a step back. This way, when children find themselves in a non-confrontational situation, they will stop acting up because they find it is futile.

When parents choose to withdraw from conflicts with their children, this means that they will only partake in reasonable and positive interaction with their children.

If their children are unreasonable and using negative ways to get what they want, they will not be able to get it. If this withdrawal from potential conflicts with children is practised in the home, the child will soon learn that the only way to get attention is to show cooperation and not fight with his parents.

I remember my second daughter when she was only four years old, telling her father: “You can tell me in a nice way. You do not have to scold me. I will listen to you.”

Her words reflected the many times I had told her to use nice words to let me know what she wanted. Whenever she threw a temper tantrum, I would leave the spot and keep a distance until she calmed down. Later, when everything is over, I would cuddle her or read her a story.

Telling children to behave when they are misbehaving has very little effect on them. When they choose to engage in a battle, they will not listen to any advice. Parents who choose to cooperate with their children when they are not fighting can make a difference in how they interact with other people.

Children will learn that it is the right thing to do when they walk away from their friends who challenge them.


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