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How to Stop a Child's Demanding Behavior

by Tiffany Raiford

When asked about your children, you very likely refer to them as wonderful, sweet, intelligent and beautiful because you love them and think of them as the best things that ever happened to you. What you probably don’t add -- depending on the audience -- is that your children are demanding. You need to feed and bathe them, launder their clothes, pack their sports equipment and check their homework. Kids demand a lot of attention, but not all of their demands are ones you have to meet, at least not right away.

Stop giving in to your child’s demands, advises Dr. Daniel J. DeMarle, Ph.D. and New York-based education specialist at DeMarle Inc. Chances are good that your child is demanding because you have allowed her to run your household. The next time she demands something from you, stop and think about whether her demand is a need or a want. If she demands spaghetti for dinner, do not immediately say yes if you already have chicken and vegetables in the oven. Her demand for a meal is a need, she has to eat and your job as a parent is to provide nutrition for your child. However, giving into her demands for spaghetti when you already have something else cooking only validates her demanding behavior. Do not give into her demand. Instead, inform her that you will eat shortly, but that spaghetti is not on the menu.

Consider your own behavior and stress level. According to Dr. Daniel J. DeMarle, your own behavior may have been the catalyst for your child’s demanding behavior. If you have a new baby in the house and you are busy feeding your newborn and trying to sleep whenever possible, you may have become more lax in other areas of your life, such as allowing your children to stay up later than usual. If your behavior has inadvertently caused your child’s demanding behavior, you have to regain control if you want to stop it.

Allow your child to make appropriate choices, advises the University of Alabama’s Parent Assistance Line. Allowing him to make his own choices -- when appropriate -- gives him a feeling of control over his life, which can help with his demanding behavior. When it’s time to get him dressed in the morning, let him choose between two or three different shirts. You still have control over what he wears, but he feels as though he is making his own decisions and has control over his own body. You can always use this later on, such as when he demands to go to the park on a day your schedule does not allow that. Simply remind him that he got to pick what he wore today, so you get to pick what you do today.

Refrain from answering her demands and requests immediately, which teaches patience, according to the University of Alabama’s Parent Assistance Line. For one, your child should never demand anything from you; she should request. If your child asks you to get her crayons down from a high shelf while you are in the middle of folding laundry, tell her you are more than happy to accommodate her, especially since she asked so nicely, but that her request will have to wait until you are finished with the laundry.

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