What would I do differently?

(2-minute read)

Dear Devora,

I observed the following during a home observation and was wondering what strategies you’d recommend.

Sarah threw something and mom said, “I think that might hurt someone.” Sarah continued to throw train tracks off the table and mom said, “I really don’t think we should throw this.” Sarah threw it anyway. Mom moved her away from the train table to the couch. Sarah went back to the table and threw it again. Mom put her upstairs in time-out and said, “When you’re ready to not throw, you can come out.”

Sarah came back 20 seconds later and ran back to the table and threw a toy. Mom said, “I’m upset at you. If you do it again, I will put you upstairs and close the door. Do you want that?” This went on a few times until we all went upstairs.

Is she seeking negative attention?


Dear Seeking Negative Attention,

I don’t think that the problem is negative attention-seeking. However, the problem is definitely about limit testing. And since the mom didn’t enforce the limits effectively, the child continued to test limits.

I would teach the mom how to be assertive and not passive. Assertiveness includes words and actions that both sets clear limits and enforces those limits. Here are some reds and greens for the mom. The underlined words are super passive! Stay away from them.

1.I think that might hurt someone. vs. That might hurt someone. You may not throw.
2.I really don’t think we should throw this. vs. If you throw anything, I will take it away.
3.Giving repeated warnings vs. State the rule once and take action immediately (i.e. take away the toy, remove the child from the area, and/or put her in time-out)
4.The child leaves time-out after 20 seconds vs. The child leaves time-out with mom’s permission.

If mom had done the greens above, chances are that it wouldn’t have escalated, and she wouldn’t need to threaten with “I’m upset at you. If you do it again, I will put you upstairs and close the door. Do you want that?”

Not sure how to implement these strategies?

Watch these trainings!

Stop Tantrums!
Become Assertive!
How to Correct and Punish Effectively

 Dr. Devora

P.S. The blog will take a break next week in honor of Purim.

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