Very early on, when Boo #1 was just over a year I guess, we realized that we had a strong willed child on our hands.  By age 2, we had to deal with screaming fits, and other difficult behaviour.  She was also a sensitive child, so we had to tread carefully through this thing.  We wanted to have more peace in the family but we didn’t want to crush her personality or spirit.  No one else we knew were having the same problems as us.  This meant we had no help, and we felt like we were alone in this.

After much research, I got advice from child behaviour experts, and read some books that were helpful.  One of the (smaller) problems we were having was when we would leave a place (mall, park, etc), she would scream her head off because she wouldn’t want to leave.  Not only does this look bad (!), but all this screaming sets me off to angryland, and then I do dumb things (being rough, yelling, etc.).   And that of course, only makes things worse.  The first thing I did was address my anger problem.  That’s an entirely different blog, I guess!  But I did start counselling, and working on it (and still am).  But counselling helps in the long run, I needed tools NOW!

We were directed to 1-2-3 Magic (DVD): Managing Difficult Behavior in Children 2-12 by Dr. Thomas Phelan.  We got the DVD, based on the 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12 book.  The book covers more material than the DVD.  It gave us some tools, so when things got screamy I had something  I could DO rather than just get upset or angry.  I must admit that I did not do the technique perfectly, but it helped A LOT.  Plus we didn’t feel we were alone anymore – lots of people struggled with what we were struggling with.  And as an added bonus, 1-2-3 Magic helps deal with all kinds of everyday situations, not necessarily big things, so that is why it was so great for us.

Also Boundaries With Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children by Cloud was a big help.  It was more foundational on how to be with the kids, rather than specific solutions to help with the screaming.  We had already read the original Boundaries book which was immensely edifying and life changing.  I was glad that I had read that book before the kids came, it helped all aspects of my life, especially with hubby.

And we also listened to The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson on CD (easier to get through by listening than reading!).  This was good background for understanding Boo #1. And also Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka was interesting too, especially the parts about sensitive children.

We use 1-2-3 Magic a lot – it’s not a one time thing!  People comment on how well our girls listen.  I don’t know how much of this is because of our work, and how much God is covering for us!  We are by no means perfect parents, and we still do TONS of things wrong.  But at least we share the things here that we did, that helped us, in order to help others.

For those dying to know how we handled the situation with a screaming toddler coming out of a mall, this is what we did.  Using a bit of advice from child psychologists, a little boundaries, and some 1-2-3 Magic, the solution was this.  First, tell the child that you are leaving in a certain time.  We gave 2 minutes.  Then we reminded at 1 minute.  This prepares the child’s mind to change gears.  So when we leave it is not a sudden traumatic event.  Some people need to start at 5 minutes, depends on what works for them.  Then, we leave.  Period.  Keep your word!  If you said you were going to leave, then make good on what you said.  If then child wont come you can (pretend to) start to leave.  After a few steps the child will likely come.  If not you can either gently but firmly guide them along, or just pick them up.  The first few times you do this, they will likely still scream, but it improves over time.  And also should reduce the outings for a while so that there will be less altercations.  You want to sort of ‘fast’ from the screaming, to break that cycle of behaviour.  Feel free to post a comment to know more!

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