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Sherrie Campbell, PhD Headshot

Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?

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Parenting is perhaps the hardest, most challenging, self-actualizing and beautiful experience to be had in human life. However, it does not mean it is always easy. Children, especially teenagers can be incredibly dramatic. The one thing we must do as parents is not buy in to the drama. Sometimes we give in just to get peace or because we fear if we don't that something horrible will happen. Giving in for either of these reasons causes us to lose our authority as parents and we are seen as pushovers.

The trick is to not take their drama too seriously. If they have been triggered by an unrealistic sense of "wanting" the healthiest thing is to not give into their demands, no matter how hard that may be. When we give in the child will learn "the more unhappy I become, the more I tantrum, the more likely I am to get what I want." This is a recipe for disaster. When our children grow into adults and they want something the world will not turn on its axis to meet their need.

The child will be aggravated by our non-reaction, which often causes them to increase their acting out in an effort to intimidate us, but it will subside when we stay strong in our non-reaction. The non-reaction is the boundary we are setting. Once their tantrum has passed and they are calm we can talk to our child about what happened and ask them to verbalize what came over them. What did it feel like to not get what they wanted? What can they learn from it? This way we maintain our composure thereby allowing us our own personal growth in self-control, and we model for our children that conflict can be handled in a controlled and reasonable manner as they learn that life isn't always fair.