Tuesday 19 July 2011


What to Do If Your Child Exhibits Total Defiance in Public?

I mentioned in my earlier post that J (2Y4M10D) was in total defiance when we were at IKEA last Friday. He threw a tantrum, and insisted that he wanted to go to the play area. I have been doing some self-reflection. I have been thinking about what we could do better, if we encounter similar IKEA situation again in the future (which I am sure would happen again!)

I found some good advice from Chronicles of the Babywise Mom, which I intend to follow. The original post is here.

A. Before the outing, we will do the following:

1. Give Pre-Outing Warning

Next time we will warn J in advance by saying, "J, we are going to IKEA, and we will not be going to the play area. I do not want you to throw a tantrum. Say Yes Mommy." Wait for response. "While we are in the store, are you going to ask to play at the play area?" Wait for response. Then explain the consequence if he doesn't obey. "If you insist to play at the play area, then next time you don't get to come with the store with us. Mommy will go to the store alone."

2. Practice

Before leaving the house to the store, practice how to leave the store when it's time without crying.

B. During the outing, we will do the following:

1. Give Advance Notice

Give your child 10 minutes at the play area, but tell him that he only has 10 minutes, and he has to leave, when the time is up. Tell him that you do not want to see any tantrum or crying, when it is time to leave. Ask him what is the last thing he wants to play with. He may choose to go down the slide one last time and then it is done.

2. Expect a “Yes, Mommy” Reply

Ask your child to look into your eyes and say “yes, mommy”.

C. When it is time to leave and he throws a tantrum, we will do the following:

1. Stay Calm

Act like you don’t care. Don’t shout at him and don’t give him any attention.

2. Carry Your Child to a Quiet Spot

Don’t reprimand your child in front of everyone in a crowded place. Respect his dignity. Calmly carry him struggling all with all your might to a quiet spot with more privacy. Then tell him, “J, you need to stop throwing your fit right now.”

3. Show Smpathy, but DON'T be Swayed

Tell your child, “J, I know you are sad, because you want to go to the play area, but we need to go and shop for some stuff now. It is fine to be sad, but that doesn't mean you can or should throw a fit.” Don’t give in, otherwise the victorious look on J’s face would repeat itself again.

4. Tell Your Child to Stop

Tell your child what he can’t be doing, what will happen if he keeps doing it, etc. “J, if you can't stop, we are going to leave and go sit in the car." Keep a nice, calm voice throughout.

5. Leave Immediately

If your child continues to throw tantrum, LEAVE. Don’t give any threat you will not follow through on. Don’t give in to him and let him have the victory. This will show your child that his tantrum will not be accepted under any circumstance. If you are somewhere you can't fully leave (i.e. church) or if your child is throwing a fit in order to leave, go somewhere you can "leave to" like a hall, and then keep the location very dull. Don’t allow him any toys, but make him sit still with his arms folded.

6. Time-Out

Give a time-out immediately when you get home while the incident is still fresh in your child's mind. Using a timer, tell your child, "J, you were badly behaved just now. Now you are going to get a time out for 3 minutes. You need to stay in the crib until the timer goes".

7. Withdraw Privilege

If your child does throw a tantrum again at the store, don’t bring him to the store anymore. Go to the store yourself, and before doing so, make sure that you say good bye to your child, so that he knows that you are going to the store. Tell him that you are going to the store, and that he has to stay home with Daddy, because he could not behave well to obey your instructions the last time he was at the store with you.

Additional Information:
I have been concentrating on implementing Montessori activities for J, because I believe that it would aid his intellectual development, and because I derive so much fun and satisfaction planning and doing all these activities with J. But what good is intellectual development, if moral development is lacking behind?

Learning to count from 1-10 will not make J kinder, more self-controlled, or easier to manage. When it comes to parenting a child’s heart, I am treading on very inexperienced ground, and it is high time I take a break from Montessori activities to improve my ability in this area. This area is very challenging for me, and I will need a lot of prayer for God’s wisdom.

I intend to cut down a little on Montessori activities (if I can control myself!) and scale up on parenting the child’s heart.

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