When Tantrums are also Disobedience

  • Blog
  • 23/11/2022

Parenting Through Stages of Development – A Parent Hope Project podcast series

A parent listening to the Parent Hope podcast asks: What about clearly defiant tantrums rather than just a child struggling to delay gratification? Any ideas on how best a parent can be a resource?

Parent’s Question: Just listened to your podcast. Found the questions to ask myself from the podcast very helpful but would love to hear an alternative example where it’s a circumstance of clear disobedience. 

It’s tough to avoid trying to change the child in a circumstance where you actually do need them to change their attitude & do what you’re asking them to do… eg. This morning it was nonnegotiable that she needed to get dressed before we went to the shops.

Jenny’s response:

The question that comes to mind for me is: What does my parent leadership look like. How do I make my expectations clear to a toddler and have a response I can action when disobeyed? Getting down at eye level and saying calmly but sternly, “I won’t put up with you disobeying Mummy do you understand? I expect you to do as I ask. I know you know how to behave.”

This conveys a firm ‘I’ position 

And here is the follow-up feedback from a parent reclaiming calm leadership with her little one.

I’ve been much more confident with our toddler this afternoon after having the time to reflect & get clearer. Also, acknowledging what I was doing that was unhelpful. Still hard work though, as I currently feel continually tested.

And the next day:
Really proud of myself tonight. Toddler was upset again about ……………………….. I stayed calm, supportive & empathetic but unwavering in what the outcome needed to be. I stayed present with her and she eventually accepted it & settled to sleep 👏🏼

This is an example of a parent growing their agency rather than trying to coax the child to comply. It is not a technique but about a parent asking questions of themselves and making adjustments rather than trying to be all things for their child.

The questions for reflection suggested in the podcast are:

When I look back at my interaction

•          What helps?

•          What am I doing that isn’t helpful?

•          Is the interaction promoting self-regulation or fuelling dysregulation?

Dr Jenny Brown

Listen to more – with the example of toddler tantrums in our new podcast series: PARENTING THROUGH STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT – follow on your podcast app.

When Tantrums are also Disobedience

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