Age does matter when it comes to whining and tantrums.
Here are two strategies for very young children.
Solutions #3 and #4:
For children under the age of 4, it is ok to use “substitution” and “distraction.”
Substitution means that if the child is whining about a candy, you can offer a different substitute item or snack that will satisfy the child. Thus, if the child wants a marker but you’re afraid that the child will color her clothing, you can offer crayons instead, or some other enticing alternative.
Distraction implies taking the child’s attention away from whatever they were crying about, and distracting them with something else that is exciting to the child, so that they forget that they were even crying a moment ago. Distraction can even be done by cracking jokes, doing magic tricks, or involving the child in a fun, baking activity, etc.
DO NOT USE substitution and distraction as a regular strategy beyond the age of 4. Why?
One of the important concepts I’ve discussed in my recent parenting workshops on Emotion EQ: Mastering the Parenting Path for Children with Strong Emotions and Whine No More: 9 Magical Strategies to STOP Tantrums is the idea that children MUST develop DISTRESS TOLERANCE in order to be able to soothe themselves as they grow up and mature into adolescence and adulthood. By using substitution and distraction beyond age 4, we rob them of this opportunity. It’ll only come back to bite us when they’re older and too emotionally out-of-control.
Let’s make sure we’re teaching them to tolerate age-appropriate emotional distresses successfully NOW!
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G’mar tov! Hashem loves His children. He will surely grant us an awesome year!