LittleDogKorat/ShutterstockSix days is long enough for an awesome vacation. It’s 144 hours of your life that you could spend doing something incredible, like hike the Inca Trail, or something useful, like redecorate your entire house. Or you could, like most parents, spend it arguing with your kids. According to a recent poll by the food company Dolmio, reported in The Sun, the typical parent spends 23 minutes a day facing children’s meltdowns over things like what’s for dinner and when to go to bed.
Dealing with 23 minutes of arguments and tantrums each day might not sound too bad, but it all adds up — to almost six full days over the course of a year, no less. And as if that’s not enough, parents will spend an additional 27 hours a year cooking food that will go uneaten. One in four parents have to cope with children refusing to eat what has been prepared, 17 percent have kids who demand a different meal, and 16 percent say their kids demand dessert first. More than half of the 2000 parents surveyed on online polling website OnePoll.com admitted that to cooking two or three different meals to keep everyone at the table happy — leaving just one hour and 47 minutes of real quality family time a day.
But the most common cause of a tantrum isn’t what’s on the dinner table. Most family rows happen when parents try to get their kids to go to bed, followed by trying to encourage them to do their homework and stopping them from watching TV. (Here’s what parents of successful kids do — and you don’t have to ban the TV!)
How to stop those tantrums
Time is precious — and even more so when you’re a parent. None of us want to spend the equivalent of several days a year watching our kid lie on the floor kicking and screaming. We might not ever hike the Inca Trail, but more peaceful evenings with a good book or an uninterrupted conversation with our spouse would do just fine. So we need to stop those temper tantrums in their tracks. Easier said than done, admittedly—but some advice comes courtesy of Samantha Rodman, PhD, clinical psychologist (aka Dr. Psych Mom).
Believe it or not, Dr. Rodman suggests that kids who throw a tantrum at bedtime aren’t just trying to be difficult. They may actually have a genuine reason for not wanting to go to bed. For example, they may feel they don’t get enough quality time with you, or find the transition between playtime and bedtime too abrupt. If you child feels like they’re missing out on time with you, Dr. Rodman suggests the use of “special time”: 10 minutes a night of parent-child time where the child chooses the activity, and all the parent does is focus on them. (Yes, put away the cell phone!) Dr. Rodman advises not asking questions, giving instructions, or trying to teach. Simply follow your child’s lead and go with the flow. This “special time” can be a game-changer, Dr. Rodman believes, because it leaves your child feeling satisfied and less likely to be sad about losing out on time by going to bed.
To make the transition to bedtime easier, Dr. Rodman suggests establishing a set bedtime for every night (and sticking to it!) and starting the whole going-to-bed process early. It might include a bath, special songs, and special books. Basically, you want to make the bedtime routine pleasurable for your child, so that you, in turn, can get back some of those six days a year and spend the time doing something pleasurable for yourself.