We’ve all been there, the moment in the grocery store at the end of the day where your little one spies something that they decided that they absolutely must have and you say ‘no’. Depending on the demeanor or momentary feelings of your child, they might start to act up and the rest of the shopping trip becomes a total nightmare. Maybe they loudly pout, maybe they start crying, maybe (heaven forbid) they start grabbing things off of shelves or throwing things out of the cart. Here are a few tips on how to handle these situations.
What Causes Bad Attitudes?
Also, there are those days when they just don’t want to put on their shoes to leave the house. Sometimes it’s that they just don’t want to be there in the waiting room of your dentist appointment. I’ve had nice days at the park ruined by bad behavior because we went to the wrong park. Cranky, surly behavior can be triggered by anything, and little ones don’t quite know when they’re being irrational because they just can’t understand yet.
Sometimes, children just have bad attitudes and need to pout it out or take a nap and they’re back to normal. But in public environments or if you just don’t have time to go back home, that bad attitude needs to be prevented, rather than triggered. Encouraging and incentivizing good behavior can sometimes preempt those mini-meltdowns or those cranky afternoons, but there are lots of things that you can do to intervene at the moment to encourage better behavior.
When You’ve Got a Bad Attitude Approaching
Always gauge behavior patterns throughout the day. Children sometimes might seem like their attitude will turn on a dime and they’ll go from zero-to-cranky in seconds flat. But there are always little signs leading up to those moments, so it’s important to be tuned-in to the emotional tide of your little one. If you hear repetitive phrases or you notice that the positivity of their statements starts to decline, take a moment to address the emotional situation of your child and see if there’s anything that you can do to shift the tide right then and there.
This is a good time to distract and incentivize better behavior before things go south. If they’re running low on energy, this might be a good time for a granola bar or a few goldfish before they get hangry. I know a lot of parents worry about snacking close to a mealtime, but if you’re circumventing a public meltdown or a few hours of a cranky kiddo, it’s important to weigh your options. Give them something to look forward to or distract them. Is it movie night? Well, they’d better start thinking about which movie they want to watch. Are they going to a birthday party tomorrow? Well, that’s fun and it’s coming right up!
Enlist Santa Claus!
One of my personal favorites things to do to get ahead of a bad attitude during the holiday season is using Calls from Santa. If I know that there’s a long day ahead, or if we’re attending an event that would just be better if we have smooth sailing, I just schedule a personalized call from Santa Claus just to remind my kiddos that there’s a holiday coming up and a certain someone is watching closely to make sure that they’re on their best behavior. Just after breakfast, before heading out for the day, the jolly man himself will call with a personalized message that gets my kids excited but also very aware that their attitude that day matters!
If You’ve Got a Bad Attitude on Your Hands
There are a couple of things to remember when dealing with a sudden storm of pouting. Even if you’re as exhausted as they are, you’re still the adult that’s there and you really do know better than to engage on their level. Always keep calm and talk slowly. Kids pick up on your behavior and will often follow suit if you maintain a calm, collected tone. I’ve been caught in the trap of “why?” or roundabout kid logic before and let me tell you, it’s hard to not get pulled into it!
Maintaining a calm tone, repeating your point and not following your little one down the rabbit hole of unhappy logic is always key. Find your point, repeat it slowly and maintain your cool demeanor. Always talk about their behaviors and actions directly, don’t talk about them or their attitude at that moment, depersonalizing the actions will help to make them realize that they’re making a specific decision to have that attitude and that they can make a decision to act differently. When you focus on them, rather than their actions, children have a harder time remembering that it’s a choice that they’re making to behave in that particular way.