What does this refer to? Well very simply, the frosting on the cake… Do you eat it first or do you save it for last. According to M. Scott Peck MD, how you eat your cake can be very telling about how you live your life, and I agree with him.
Currently, and for some time now, we have all grown to be more than impatient. We are use to getting what we want immediately. Getting the best thing first. Picture how children run to see their photograph right after it was taken. We can track flights, packages, in real-time, order food, find a date, buy a car, send a message, get someones background information, stream a movie all instantly. I see adults lose their patience on a daily basis when they don’t get what they want right away.
So many parents want information and advice on how to get their children to stop having temper tantrums to get what they want. I chuckle inside when specific parents ask me this question in their own “temper tantrum sort of way.” In a culture where we can all get what we want immediately, we are modeling this for children all around. I hear “wait a minute” said to children everywhere I go. Is it really a minute? And if it’s ten minutes, I’m not sure how a child with challenges is to wait that long, if a parent cannot.
As everyone knows, children learn from actions not words. When you are waiting for something, or you do not get what you usually do, right away, be conscious that your children are learning problem solving skills from your behavior. If you are huffing and puffing, sucking your teeth, talking under your breath to others, or simply getting out of control verbally, your children are leaning this is what I do when I want something. On their level it comes out as throwing their body on the floor, kicking screaming, etc. Are you aware of your tantrums? I am.
I took a Bikram yoga class. It was my second day, and I was so proud of myself for going. If your not familiar, it’s 104 degrees in the room, packed with people, and the rules are; although you can go into a rest pose at any time, you can’t leave the room. In my opinion the teachers are a little militant, and not very caring for your body. But this is the style and I made the choice to take the class, and no-one was physically hurting me. About 45 minutes into the class, I had simply had enough. Beyond the physical aspect of this class, I was attempting to “let go” all my mental challenges. I wanted to finish the class and be at peace with any yoga I did during the 90 minutes. So I would rest, while resting I would get mad at myself for resting so long, and see severely overweight people going at it, and I would get back up, only to come back to rest again. A recipe for disaster for me. I was being pushed to my limits, as children are on a daily basis. I began my tantrum by giving the teacher dirty looks! Of course I realized this was nonsense and couldn’t believe I was acting out this way. Then during one pose I found myself giving the teacher the middle finger!!! (in a sly hidden way) Why couldn’t I gain control of myself! Here I am – and I couldn’t control myself. How do we expect children to control themselves? Especially children with special needs?!
There are so many expectations put on children in general. I see many parents giving their children what the want so quickly, just so they won’t “act-out” or “tantrum.” This is not the way to prepare them for reality. Getting what we/they want instantly is not healthy, we/they end up not appreciating what is wanted. Many children whom I teach how to “mand” or to communicate what they want, have parents who are so happy that they are doing this, they give them everything they ask for. This creates little monsters. Special needs or not, children need to know they must “work” for what they want. You can define work any way that is appropriate for your child. For example;
- Hang your jacket up, then we’ll have snack.
- Finish your Homework, and you can play video games
- Put this book away and you’ll get the trains
- Brush your teeth and you’ get a sticker
One of my favorite books, has a chapter titled,”don’t’ give the ice cream away for free.” Giving a child toys, snacks, attention whenever they ask for it, will create a spoiled child. Having them earn it (aside from the 20 minutes of LOVE THERAPY daily) will make them a much more prepared for the world human being.
Delaying gratification is something I’ve read about in the book, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, MD. He states,
Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with. It is the only decent way to live.
In other words, the pain=waiting, the pleasure is more appreciated. It’s why so many people who win the lottery are screwed up. Life is difficult, we know this as adults, why should we set up our children to believe it won’t be?
If every child got 20 minutes of quality time with no distractions with their caregiver, where it was all about love and caring and listening and sharing. The rest of the day can be real life lessons to prepare them for the future. Let your child see ALL your emotions, it’s ok to be angry in front of them, BUT your anger must be a process that is working towards a solution. Showing them how you cool off from being angry is the follow up lesson. Do not ignore problems and walk around letting anger seep through… Deal with problems in a calm way, (as they happen) where you get what you want. If you’re an excuse maker, guess who will follow in your footsteps?
If your goal is to have your child turn into a thriving adolescent and adult, it is necessary for them to have behavior around them that shows self-discipline.
Help your child become the successful child who works hard, not the spoiled child who expects everything handed to them. Especially if they are a child with diagnosed challenges, it is all the more important to set them up for the unfair world that is not always loving and catering their needs instantly.
What do you think? Are these suggestions realistic and useful? I would love to know what you think……