IT can be incredibly frustrating as a parent to deal with your child’s constant demands.
Whether they’re asking for snacks every second of the day or want time on their iPad, the frequent requests can also leave you feeling drained.
Dealing with constant demands from your children can be incredibly frustrating, and exhaustingCredit: Getty
So how should you go about dealing with these constant demands?
Laura Amies has worked within childcare and child development for the past 22 years and, as such, as dealt with her fair share of demanding kids.
“As a parent, you are hardwired to protect, nurture and provide for your child,” Laura explained.
“But it’s important to remember that often your child’s demands are NOT related to their actual needs.
“You are hardwired to respond to your child’s cries via an instinctive reaction which is an innate, evolutionary reflex to increase the chances of your family’s survival.”
For centuries, parents have reacted to cries of pain, hunger, illness or fear and acted accordingly.
But, Laura noted, modern day life is a “very confusing time for our evolutionary instincts”.
This is down to the fact that children “regularly cry due to the huge array of external stimuli which simply didn’t exist in times gone by – like toys, iPads, snacks and TV time”.
In addition to that, “parents have a lot more to deal with and worry about, such as bills, housework, school uniforms, what to
cook for dinner” – all of which impact their patience levels and stress
“Our brains can struggle to determine the difference between a perceived threat and an actual threat (that goes for both you and your child),” Laura continued.
“So, when a child wants something which even we as adults know isn’t essential, they may express themselves in a way that triggers your stress response.
“This can result in you rescuing them, perhaps striving to quieten them down or generally placating them quickly with the things that they are demanding from you in order to be able to move on with your day.
“In turn, this can form a cycle of behaviour and habits which often go on to become a normal part of daily life.”
‘LISTEN, VALIDATE AND DISTRACT’ IN ACTION
Laura detailed an example of how the technique works in action.
Child: “Give me the iPad now!!”
Adult: “I can see you want the iPad, I feel sad when I can’t have it too! Let’s pop it on the sofa for after dinner.”
“It’s at this point I would lead with confidence, follow through by popping it on the sofa and then distract them,” she said.
“How you choose to distract them will depend entirely on their age and character – initially they may display upset but this is an important learning curve for them.
“It’s ok for them to be upset within a supportive environment, experiencing the peaks and troughs of our emotions is much more beneficial than instant gratification.”
To avoid this cycle, Laura swears by the Listen, Validate and Distract technique, which she says has helped her stand her ground “with some incredibly strong willed children”.
Firstly, draw on all of your patience, drop to their level, make eye
contact with them and hear them out.
“Even if it seems like their demand is quite ridiculous, to them it’s important,” Laura stressed.
“Once you have listened to them, validate their feelings to ensure they know you are there to support them through this.
“Then finally, move on.”
In answer to the question “how do I deal with my child’s constant demands?” – one Laura is frequently asked by parents – her advice is always to “ensure that their demands do not result in a positive outcome”.
“This, alongside of your guidance and support will have them making polite requests quicker than you can say ‘Please may I have
the iPad soon, Mummy?'”
Laura offers daily tips and advice, as well as a guide on dealing with tantrums, over on her Instagram page.
Laura Amies has been working within childcare and child development for the past 22 yearsCredit: Instagram/nannyamies