A series of books would be more appropriate for exploring all the annoying things that kids do – but when would we get a moment alone to read them? Here we take a brief look at 6 of their favourite and most disruptive weapons and describe how you can make sure you always have the upper hand.
Young kids are always finding new ways to annoy us. One minute they’re sticking to everything like glue and asking us “Why?”, the next they’re excreting a non-stop stream of snot or acting like they’ve been out drinking all night.
Being annoying is in their nature – I mean, it’s in everybody’s nature. As human beings, we crave attention and connection. And not only that, we desperately want other people to think well of us. It’s when these natural inclinations get out of control that we become, well, just plain annoying.
As children are just figuring all this stuff out and are too young to understand the roots of their behaviour, they don’t possess an internal ‘annoyingness’ radar like we do. This can explain why they often breach accepted levels and go beyond atmospheric – taking our stress levels with them. Unfortunately for us, at least for a while, it’s just something we have to deal with.
Fortunately, however, with a little bit of awareness and knowledge on our part, we can clamp down on this behaviour and become much better at preventing it from happening. Find out the real cause of their oh-so-annoying actions and discover what you need to do when they are…
Kids whine so much you’d think they were under some higher order to disrupt your life as much as possible. They whine when they don’t like something; they whine when they do like something; they whine when they want to do something; they whine when they don’t want to do something. Every time drawing out each syllable as if a sentence were one long monosyllable.
But for kids, whining is just a natural way of communicating they are tired or frustrated. Try not to take it personally – with a little patience you can address the whining for what it is: an ineffective way of getting what they want. Let them know the tone you expect to hear and make sure to praise them whenever they use it.
Always on your trail
Like a shadow, you just can’t seem to shake them off. They appear everywhere: when you’re doing the laundry, taking a shower, paying the bills, using the loo – and let’s not forget when you’re trying to sleep.
An understanding of privacy and personal space is not something kids come preprogrammed with, but something that needs to be learned. And considering where they’ve come from, it’s not surprising that it’s the most difficult to establish with their mum.
Instead of locking your child in a dark room for a while, many parents report a more subtle and gentle approach is effective at reducing clinginess. Following a period together, gradually increase the distance between you both. After a while, depart with a goodbye to let them know you’ll be back, and enjoy the minutes without someone hanging from your trouser leg.
Working for the secret police
For whatever reason, kids tend to take on the role of miniature intel operatives, providing you with all the juicy information on their friend who peed in the sandbox or threw their truck at their mum.
Normally this isn’t an early sign of a career in the CIA but a ploy to get your attention. As your kids are developing a moral sense of right and wrong, it may also be they are trying to let you know when someone has broken a rule or been treated unfairly. If their tattling becomes excessive, let them know – as long as nobody is getting hurt – that it’s not their job to monitor who’s doing what. Explain the role of a parent and the hard work of the local police force.
Using forbidden words
Whether they hear them on the playground, on a television show, or from the old man next door, children are bound to be exposed to obscenities, and when they are, you can bet your life they’ll use them.
Much like everything else kids do, using swear words is often a plea for attention and an attempt to get a rise out of you. However, if they hear them frequently, they can get into the habit of using them as a way of expressing their frustration.
Here you don’t want to ignore the language completely, but you also don’t want to label it as forbidden fruit. Let your child know that cursing is not a mature way to communicate their feelings and that it can often hurt people’s feelings. It also helps to remove anyone or thing that is reinforcing the behaviour; once they swear on their own and don’t get a response, they’ll soon realise it’s not so fun.
Being food connoisseurs
Ever wonder when your child had the time to take an applied cooking course? Well, apparently they did, and they now know with authority that beans and mashed potatoes do not go together and that anything green belongs on the floor.
This sort of behaviour can turn meal time into a nagging chore. But as Evonne Weinhaus, a therapist and the coauthor of Stop Struggling With Your Child, explains, “This is one of the only areas where your child has total control.”
Taking away their control at the dinner table is sure to bring out their inner food critic. One way to avoid this is by getting them more involved in the preparation of the food, even if it’s just washing vegetables or sprinkling cheese on top of pasta. This way they’ll be more likely to eat what’s in front of them and save the tantrums for desert.
Asking “Why? Why? Why???”
Even if you think your mental health is pretty stable, the continuing questions of why, why, why can quickly drive you barmy. Then there are the ultimate Why bombs they drop out of nowhere, leaving you in a dazzled state of confusion for days: “Mummy, why don’t you keep me in a pouch like a kangaroo?”
As I’m sure you’ve figured, kids are just naturally curious about the ever-expanding world around them. It’s in their genes to find answers to things they don’t yet understand, so they can learn to survive and eventually fend for themselves. But there’s a fine line between using questions to learn and using them to, you guessed it, gain your attention.
After one or two questions, you can cut through the neverending loop by turning the questions against them and setting them with the task of finding out the answers. If they really want to know the answer, they will go away and report back to you with what they find. But more often than not, their attention flows onto the next source of fuel to annoy you with.
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