My child has whims: what attitude to adopt?

Mon enfant fait des caprices : quelle attitude adopter ?

You refuse him a delicacy, a toy, extra time in front of the TV and it’s the crisis. Furious anger and crisis of tears, lying on the ground, he hits the ground and swears that he hates you … Christine Brunet, psychologist, gives some keys …

The attitude to adopt depends on several things: the age of the child, and what kind of whim it is. If the child wants a toy in a store, explain that it was not planned, and don’t put pressure on him. In addition, you must always have another proposal to submit to him so that the child is part of an immediate project after the whim and that he does not remain tense. Parents should try to contain their anger and get around the whim rather than get tense about the situation. Diversion and shift the answer, for example by talking about yourself, because the stories of parents always interest children. In short, the whim must be compensated by something else.

  • Above all, not get angry, or shout louder than him. This is useless, because the parents put themselves out of it and then feel incapable. The important thing is to have good verbal communication while staying firm on your decision. In addition, the tone you will use must be adequate and not howler, in which case the child will only retain the tone. Finally, you must look him in the face and calmly explain the reasons for your opposition.
  • Do not forget that your refusal must always be justified. No is not enough. You have to explain it. Why did you refuse or impose something? The child must understand that the decision is not arbitrary but based on good reasons. The disagreements with the parents help him to gradually build his judgment; not arbitrariness! He will also understand later that certain rules are imposed on him for his safety and these are indisputable.
  • Lead by example. An angry parent who gets carried away for nothing, quibbles with traders, plays recalcitrant drivers, will have a lot of trouble making his child understand that whims are not good …

During the crises in public, parents imagine themselves judged by others, they feel guilty and bad. First of all get rid of this shame and guilt and apologize to others on behalf of their child. So the child will take into account the discomfort created, and feel considered. Parents must therefore above all sit on their embarrassment and fear of being a bad parent.

The whims conceal intolerance of a child’s frustration who does not agree with what his mother or father decides, or who wants to do things by himself. So it’s both a desire for autonomy, an inability to resist a temptation, but it is also ill bear frustration. Through his outburst of anger, he is actually expressing his desperate realization that he is no longer the center of the world. That is why, the refusal which is opposed to him is felt as an injustice. Always annoying, often unbearable, the whims nevertheless participate in the construction of the personality of the child. It arises by opposing. Nevertheless, it is very rare that a child never makes whims, whims are completely normal. They show that the child wants to express himself, that he has temptations, but sometimes these are not always consistent with the day or the timing of his parents. We must therefore teach the child to wait, and make him understand that he cannot have everything right away. The main thing is not to leave him in the thought that he is all-powerful, and that he can do everything and have everything.

This opposition also shows that he has integrated the idea of ​​no longer being one with his mother, and that he has his own emotions and desires. It is therefore around the age of 2 years that the first whims appear to fade around 7 years, the age says of reason, when the child begins to internalize the rules which govern social relations. If in this interval of 5 years, the parents do not infuse the child with these rules, or even if he chooses to systematically give in, the whims will last … all of life!

“Is this whim not over soon?” by Christine Brunet, Albin Michel editions.

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