Mums in Dubai often ask the questions below about their 6 year olds – from what triggers anger or defiance to how much praise to give and what happens when your child is left out. Louise Armstrong, Master Practitioner & Family Coach provides some helpful parenting parenting tips that any mum will find useful!

What should you do if your child gets angry very quickly, (for example when we say no to something they want.) How should we, as parents, best deal with this?

There are many reasons for anger in a child and around the age of 6 they really start developing their own personalities. The first thing to asses is that there’s nothing particularly upsetting them at school or with friends, (as this can always be a trigger if they may not be able to express their emotions fully to you). The most practical suggestion is that you try working ‘with the anger’ rather than trying to suppress it, and letting your child work through the issue themselves instead. Take time to listen to their complaints calmly as to why they aren’t accepting your answer of them not being allowed what they want, and instead of raising your voice back at them, by being calm it will show them that you have empathy, whilst also remaining in control.

Allow your child to first voice their argument; you should then use an authoritative voice to ask her if they understand WHY you have said no. As parents, we need to set boundaries for our children, which they will continue to try to push throughout their lives. Perhaps you can offer your child an alternative to what they want?

The crucial point is that when you stick to your values, your child will also learn that it isn’t worth pushing the boundaries on their point. It is always helpful for this to be backed up by both parents if possible, as this also really gives your child security. It’s good to know at this point, that this will be a part of life, so it’s a really good idea to be firm with this now as it will make life easier for you when you have to say ‘No’ to bigger issues later in life. Once children know their boundaries, they can often stop pushing them if the boundaries are safe and secure.

If the anger continues, you can look underneath this into what’s happening in the household – For example, is there anger within the family already or perhaps your child doesn’t feel ‘good’ within herself, as these can often be the problems behind it.

Does praising your child on their achievements make them too over-confident?

We all want our children to feel loved and to encourage them as much as we can to grow up into confident adults, don’t we? It’s great to praise children to boost their confidence but to be aware of how you are doing it is important too. Children need to earn their praise, so they don’t just get a gold star for tidying up their bedroom for instance.

Earning praise where it is deserved, is a necessary step, otherwise what could happen is that the child puts themselves into a ‘self-worth praise’ and later on in life when they aren’t consistently praised, they could suffer from low self-esteem. So the key thing here is not to let them ‘rely’ on praise to achieve – but they should ‘want’ to achieve the next goal – not for praise but for their own satisfaction so the reward comes from within.

Children also need to learn to accept that ‘failure’ is part of life and that they can face it without devastating effects. Don’t praise your child for the simplest of achievements (like finishing their vegetables for example), simply because if they fail an exam or faces rejection at a job interview later on in their life, they’ll think it’s the end of the world!

Instead try to teach your child what achievement really means and praise this with specific words that reinforce exactly what they achieved – so not just saying ‘well done’ but ‘That’s fantastic, you played really well in that position on the netball court today’. If she could have played better, say ‘You tried hard today’, and next time your child will definitely want to try that bit harder. It’s important to recognise that this is not to criticise your child, but to understand that to boost their self-esteem in general, it comes from achievements and not just from the praise itself. Remember, you’re giving your child life-long skills by starting now!

How do you deal with your child being left out of the classroom group?

We all want our children to be happy and to have a good circle of friends, but what happens if your child comes home unhappy and says they feels left out of a group? Here’s what you can do.

Your instinct will obviously be to “make things better” of course but really the best immediate thing you can do, is let your child just talk out their emotions whilst you remain completely objective and just listen.

Giving your child the assurance that you love them and are always there for them is key. Your child will certainly need lots of hugs going through this and spending as much extra time with them as you can give will definitely comfort them.

Place your focus on helping your child, rather than retrospectively evaluating and talking through what’s currently happening, which can in turn deflect the focus from the problem itself.

You can’t protect your children from any of these situations unfortunately and it’s all part of life as most children do go through this at some stage or another, but some do go through more of these issues than others. What you can do is help them to keep their own self-respect and keep focussing on how they are right to maintain their own values of what is right and wrong. Talking about how we should treat people as we want to be treated ourselves is a simple way to reinforce this. What often happens in this sort of group situation is that there will be a self-nominated child ‘in charge’ of the group, and this is the child who determines who is ‘in or out’ of the group and its highly unlikely that you can just stop that. These are the immediate things you can do today though:

Talk to your child about the times they have felt rejection before with friends or family and how life in general can be ever-changing. Let them know that it won’t last.

Share your own experiences – your child will find this comforting that you’ve managed to get through this situation and they’re probably feeling very alone in this.

Are there books or films you know about that have stories about children feeling rejected and overcoming the situations? The key is it’s all a phase.

Nurture friends that are out of the class environment – so that your child does feel self worth amongst friends that show open acceptance. You can even encourage new hobbies that heighten their interest and involve meeting new children.

Remember that these sentiments do carry on into later life. We aren’t all part of every group or invited to all parties, and that learning to build your child’s own confidence and self-respect that extends beyond the classroom will help them deal with all of this to come!

How do I handle a defiant and slightly anxious 6-year-old?

Many parents feel very stressed when their child behaves angrily towards them in an anxious manner, as they would never have ‘dreamt of behaving like this towards their parents’. Does this ring a bell with you?

If your child behaves this way, we need a little understanding as to why the child is being so defiant in the first place. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a phase; (sometimes it can be because the child is being ‘spoilt’ emotionally and materialistically), or it could be that they haven’t been given the right discipline for their inappropriate behaviour, or perhaps they are being brought up in an ‘angry’ environment.
If any of these situations resonate with you, don’t worry too much as we’ve all been there. This doesn’t make you a ‘bad’ parent at all; it’s just now you need to move forwards.

Sometimes if your child expresses excessive anger, it’s because they feel lonely, or are perhaps suffering from jealousy, or it can even be too much time spent viewing on ipads and TV.NThe defiance in a child is a very strong emotion and you as a parent can learn to help the child in many ways. Here are some suggestions you can try today:

Look at your own behaviour first as a couple – a healthy marriage promotes a calm household. Don’t express excessive anger between you and your spouse in front of the child or they will grow up thinking this is appropriate behaviour too.
Be responsible and not permissive in your reactions. Focus on your child’s strengths, not their weaknesses in order to build positive, confident children. Provide consistent and appropriate punishment if your child continues to be defiant and start a gratitude diary for your child – buy a special book where they write (or draw) three things at the end of the day that they feel grateful for. If they feel anger, ask them to let it go up into the sky and then refocus them on their good feelings. This is a great habit to do just before bedtime.

So as you change your perspective, you will think differently towards your child. Being less angry towards them will get different results and parenting more effectively will reduce the stress for both of you – so take some deep breaths, re-focus on what’s good, (not the negative), and remind yourself that the more calm YOU are, the more calm the household will be.

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