Our children: they are the most lovable beings in the world, but let’s face it – they can be downright annoying sometimes.
If you are an onlooker, then those annoying traits might come across as cute and funny. But as said child’s parents, if you have to deal with these traits every single day, it’s likely you’re going to blow your top at some point.
As tempting as it is to throw a little tantrum of our own in the face of a whingeing or tantrumming child, as parents, this is a no-go area. Neither is shouting or slapping (even though many of us have lost our tempers with our kids – it’s natural).
So in order to help you deal with these situations, we identify the 4 most annoying habits small children often have, and we give you tips on how to keep your calm when dealing with them.
1. Not listening
As children grow older, they seem to develop selective hearing. After some time, it becomes downright annoying when your request to clean their room falls on deaf ears, but they can hear you and your husband a mile away when you are trying to have a private conversation.
This inability to listen (or hear) seems to be worse among boys. There is actually a scientific reason for this. Studies that have measured the “acoustic brain range” of boys and girls have shown that girls hear much better than boys, “especially in the 1,000—4,000-Hz range.”
So how do you prevent this trait from becoming really bad when your child is a teenager, and how do you stop yourself from screaming yourself hoarse when you need your kids to do something?
Try these tips:
- Starting when they are young, avoid asking them to do things until you get their attention. For example, if your little one is playing with blocks and you want to ask him to do something, first get down to his level and say, ‘wow, what’s that you’ve built?’ Once he answers you and you have his attention, then make your request.
- Try not to bark out orders. Be polite – say please and thank you.
- Don’t drown your request in lots of words. When you give out instructions, use as few words as possible.
- Understand his point of view. You wouldn’t like it if you were interrupted while you were doing something important, and neither does your child. To you, him playing with his doll might seem trivial in comparison to what you need him to do, but for him, it works the other way around. Say, “I know you really want to play right now, but it’s bedtime, and I need you to brush your teeth. Why not leave your car right here and in the morning, you can play again?”
2. Public tantrums
It’s an awkward situation to find yourself in. You’re out shopping with your toddler in tow and he asks for a chocolate. You say no, he asks again, you say no again.
Queue a full-blown tantrum complete with rolling on the floor, kicking, screaming and general chaos. It also doesn’t help that everyone else in the shop is probably judging you for being an awful parent.
First, it’s good to understand why little ones throw tantrums.
Tantrums generally peak when a child is in their toddler years. Their language skills are still not developed enough to express their needs.
When they don’t get what they want they see this as mighty unfair because along with their language skills, their sense of empathising with others and their needs, is also still developing. In other words, they can’t quite understand things from your point-of-view.
So they shout, they cry, they kick out, roll around and generally act like their world is coming to an end.
Try these tips:
- Tantrums will be more likely and at their worst if your child is hungry, thirsty or sleepy. Avoid these times to take your little one out with you.
- If you need to take your child with you when you go out marketing or shopping, take a snack and water with you. Try to time your trip after your child has woken up from a nap.
- If your child tantrums in public, don’t spank him, shout at him or walk away. This is just going to aggravate his behaviour and make him feel like you don’t love him. Stay very close to him and when he has calmed down a little, talk gently to him, cuddle him and then calmly, walk away with him.
- If you know your child just loves chocolate and is going to ask for 10 bars of it in the supermarket, avoid that aisle. Out of sight is out of mind, right?
- Finally, tell yourself repeatedly that this is just a phase – he will grow out of it.
3. Slow eating or fussiness with food in general
Image source: iStock
There’s nothing like dealing with a fussy or slow eater that really tests the patience of even the most saintly of us. Watching your child refusing to eat the food you made, or storing a lump of food in his cheek for 20 minutes is honestly a painful experience.
Try these tips:
- Nip the fussiness in the bud. Many mums of good eaters swear by baby-led weaning as a way of cultivating good eating practices in their little ones, and also avoiding fussy eating habits from developing in the first place.
- Rewire your thinking. A child will never starve himself. It’s okay if he misses one meal – he will catch up on subsequent meals. Just make sure he stays hydrated.
- Set a time. Forty minutes is perfectly long enough for a child to finish a meal (gradually reduce this to 30 minutes). Once his time is up, calmly take away his plate. If you like, and if a lot of food has been left, keep it in the fridge and give it to him for his next meal.
- Encourage your child to get involved in cooking (when it’s safe) and planning out his own meals. He is more likely to enjoy the food more this way.
4. Constant fighting with siblings
” MUMMMMYYYY!! He HIT me!”, “MUUUUMMM, she’s not SHARING!”. Are your ears assaulted with a string of such complaints and fights right through the day? I hear you. It’s super annoying.
Try these tips:
- Lead by example. If you and your partner are constantly fighting or if you spank your child often, he is going to mimic that behaviour and think nothing of hitting his sibling or engaging in a shouting match with them. Try to tone down or avoid arguments altogether with your spouse when the kids are around.
- Teach your children basic problem-solving and negotiating skills. For example, if the younger sibling constantly wants the toys big sister is playing with, teach your older child to offer another toy instead. Or they could simply play with a different toy – which of course, the younger one will ask for – and then simply go back to playing with the original toy.
Read this article for more tips.
Mums and dads, remember that most of these annoying little traits will pass once your little darling is older. And while it’s likely (sorry!) that they’ll be replaced by a brand new bunch of annoying tween/ teen habits, you’re bound to be a pro at dealing with them by then!