Parenting: Climbing the Walls with Frustration

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Do you ever feel like climbing the walls purely out of frustration with your child or children? Or you may feel pure anger when they say ‘NO!’ with attitude!

Whatever the feeling, you are quite normal. All parents feel that way as some point – even if they say that they don’t. One thing that’s important here is that you don’t compare yourself to other parents or carers.

We each have our own ‘virtual backpack’ that we carry through life. That is, we all have individual skills, beliefs, morals, values, experiences, religion, culture, hopes, dreams, insecurities, likes and dislikes. Our children are no different. We all carry our own ‘backpack’ that makes us who we are. But sometimes what’s in those backpacks spill out, and become poor behaviour choices.

So what do you do when you have a mutiny in your house? You’re running late, the kids won’t get in the car, lunch boxes aren’t packed and you’re late for your appointment or work?

Next time you want to climb the walls try these easy steps.

1. Stop and take a breath.

Actually, stop for 18 seconds and take 3 x 3 second deep breaths. Count for 3 on the way in and 3 on the way out. That gets oxygen into your brain and helps the blood flow – then you can think a little more clearly and with focus.

2. Work out the need.

What need isn’t being met for your child at that time. Children (and adults) have 2 main motivators for their behaviour – attention and power. There are 2 others, revenge and avoidance, but they are generally part of the attention and power needs.

3. Respond to the need – Attention.

Do they want attention? Give them a hug, or a little job so they have a responsibility while you’re busy. Connecting with your child fulfils the need for attention in a positive way. You’ll know that the need is attention if you feel annoyed.

4. Respond to the need – Power.

Do they want power? Give them a choice – ‘Do you want to get in the car first or last? It’s your choice.’ Make sure the choice is a win-win outcome. The goal is to get in the car –it doesn’t matter if it’s first or last. The thing is that your child gets to choose and have the power – the need is fulfilled. If the need is power than you will feel threatened or intimidated.

Each child in the family is an individual and generally of a different age so we can’t treat them in the same way – it doesn’t work. It’s important to remember that children are not born bad. They sometimes choose bad behaviours to get what they want and fulfil a need that they have.

Once we start to look at why children are behaving the way they are then we can work out the solution. So, the next time you feel like climbing the walls with frustration remember we all have needs – even we parents – so take a breath, be calm and respond not react.

About the author

Dr Kathy Murray has worked with children and families for 25 years as a teacher. She has been a full time researcher and university lecturer. Kathy now works casually with pre-service teachers at Central Queensland University in Noosa and supports parents, early childhood educators, leaders and organisations through her consultancy business, Training and Education Services. Kathy can be contacted to speak at your workplace or parent gathering by contacting her by email