Tweens and teens behave a certain way because they can’t or don’t want to express their frustration in an acceptable manner. Your response dictates whether bad behaviour works for them or not. If she stomps around in a huff to get her way, someone – either one or both parents – is reacting exactly how she wants you to. Her needs are being met, so the pouting will persist!
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
- Allow her to express her point of view without fear of a backlash. If she doesn’t feel safe airing her true opinion she’ll resort to other, more passive (and annoying!) ways to let you know she’s unhappy, which makes her feel she doesn’t have to take responsibility for her behaviour.
- Teach her better ways to express herself. It’s necessary for kids to eventually know how to say what the problem is. Say, ‘I notice that you’re sulking. If there’s something you want to say to me, please find a better way to say it.’
- Help her identify her feelings. Chat about naming what she’s feeling when she’s mad or sad in a nondramatic way, and then what she can do about it. Discuss how feeling this way is probably hurting her more than anyone else, which is why working through it is best.
- If pouting persists, ignore it. Say, ‘I told you I’m not responding when you act this way. Rather tell me what the problem is.’
- Don’t get sucked in! Blaming, accusing or trying to reason with your child about this type of behaviour only adds fuel to their fire.
- Don’t overreact and punish your child – it gives the behaviour too much power. This is unless they’re going against your rules and not doing what you have asked.
- Stop complaining. We live in an age of complaining and blaming others for our emotional state. Could whining and feeling sorry for themselves be something our children learn from us?
- Don’t play good cop, bad cop. Pouty kids seldom behave this way at school, because their teachers don’t tolerate it in the same way as their parents. And when behaviour is inconsistent between parents, it means it’s working better with one parent. Decide on the rules (away from the children) and enforce them equally.