Resolution Skills and Boundary Setting

So, since those are the two examples I’ve given let’s do some hypothetical resolving of these issues.

  • 1) Identify the problem. When your son doesn’t get his way he shrieks and it
    hurts mommies ears.

    • Always give him his way
    • Never give him his way so he gets used to it
    • Make him go into time out in his room so mommy can’t hear him
    • Mommy goes into time out in her room so she doesn’t have to listen
    • Gag him
    • Run away (mommy, that is)
    • Cry when it happens
    • Beg him to stop (you might be including things you’ve tried)
    • Demand he stop—threatening to take away his toys
    • Take away his toys so he realizes you’re serious
    • Clearly state the boundary, “You are hurting my ears. That is abusive. I am
      going to walk away.”
  • 2) Brainstorm solutions.

  • 3) Evaluate solutions.
  • Always give him his way—NOT PRACTICAL AND WON’T TEACH ANY
    VALUABLE LESSONS I WANT HIM TO LEARN
  • Never give him his way so he gets used to it—THIS IS UNFAIR AND
    DOESN’T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT HIS VERY REAL NEEDS
  • Make him go into time out in his room so mommy can’t hear him—THIS IS
    PUNITIVE AND HE HAS ABANDONMENT ISSUES
  • Mommy goes into time out in her room so she doesn’t have to listen—I LIKE
    THIS ONE BUT IT STILL DOESN’T DEAL WITH HIS ABANDONMENT ISSUES
  • Gag him—WOULD MAKE HIM QUIET BUT WOULD BE ABUSIVE AND NOT GOOD FOR EITHER OF US; DON’T WANT TO GO DOWN THAT ROAD AT ALL
  • Run away (mommy, that is)—I SURE FEEL LIKE IT BUT, NO
  • Cry when it happens—SOMETIMES I DO THIS BUT IT DOESN’T HELP
  • SO IT’S NOT A GOOD SOLUTION
  • Beg him to stop (you might be including things you’ve tried)—YEP, DOESN’T WORK EITHER AND DOESN’T CONVEY MUCH OF MY AUTHORITY
  • Demand he stop—threatening to take away his toys—HASN’T WORKEDSO PROBABLY WON’T WORK—IS ALSO PUNITIVE
  • Bear Hug—WORKS SOMETIMES BUT NOT ALWAYS. DOESN’TLEAVE HIM ABANDONED BUT PUTS ME CLOSER TO THE
    SCREAMING SO ISN’T MY IDEAL. WOULD WORK IF HE STOPPED SHRIEKING AND GOT PHYSICALLY AGGRESSIVE.
  • Take away his toys so he realizes you’re serious—DEFINITELY PUNITIVE
    AND NOT IN ANY WAY RELATED TO THE REAL ISSUE
  • Make sure his real needs are met—THIS IS IMPORTANT, BUT
    SOMETIMES IT’S WANTS HE’S UPSET ABOUT
  • Clearly state the boundary, “You are hurting my ears. That is abusive. I am
    going to walk away. You may come find me when you are ready to speak
    kindly”—THIS SOUNDS GBD, CLEARLY STATES MY BOUNDARY AND MY INTENTION, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE ABANDONMENT ISSUES? IS THERE A WAY I CAN HAVE MY REAL BOUNDARY PROTECTED WHILE HONORING HIS ABANDONMENT ISSUES? WHAT IF I DISENGAGE FROM THE DRAMA, BY READING A BOOK (MAYBE ABOUT GBD/PD) AND STAYING PRESENT UNTIL HE IS READY TO BE CALM. I COULD SAY, “You are hurting my ears. That is abusive. I am going to read this book until you are ready to speak kindly to me and then I will listen to you again.”

4) Select a solution. I’m going to try a combination of the things listed. First, Make sure his real needs are met. This way if he’s hungry, thirsty, tired or needing a hug I can meet the need and the problem might resolve itself. If it doesn’t, I will clearly state, “You are hurting my ears. That is abusive. I am going to read this book until you are ready to speak kindly to me and then I will listen to you again.” In order to do this I need to make sure I have some of my favorite parenting books around the house and handy. If he continues screaming and I start to lose my cool I will go into time out in my room so I don’t have to listen. If he stops shrieking but gets physical I will put him in the Bear Hug.

5) Execute the solution. This is where you do it. The next time he starts shrieking because he isn’t getting his way you start by making sure that all his real needs are met and then progress from there.

6) Have a planned time to evaluate the solution chosen. You may find that the first time you do this it works great. You may find that you need to alter one or more parts of your solution. You may find that nothing is working. If this is the case you may want to add some things to your brainstorming that includes investigating diet changes or having your child evaluated by a professional. This shrieking can be normal but it might also be a symptom of something more seriously wrong. If this is the case you might continue handling the situation this way but you can adjust your expectations of what an ideal outcome might look like.

This was our case and doing these things allowed me to keep my calm and handle my son’s shrieking while I knew that he would likely not stop (and some days didn’t stop from morning until night). As a solution this allowed me to keep in control of me when I couldn’t control him. For most normal children this solution, or something similar, will result in the child getting control and will change the dynamic so that you can deal with the situation without the shrieking.

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