I'm a child expert – why ‘keeping them quiet’ with your phone is a big mistake & could make them bratty

KIDS are more complex than we give them credit for a lot of the time.

These childcare experts explain the nitty gritty of bringing up your kids when all they want to do is misbehave.

As a parent, when your kids throw a tantrum,it can make you feel all kind of things, depending on the day.

But it's all completely normal, in fact it would probably be weird if your kids were perfect angels all of the time.

There are some reasons behind the dramatic outbursts though.

Dr Rosina McAlpine, from Australia, is a childcare expert at Win Win Parenting, and knows a thing or two about why children misbehave.

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She says: "When I first became a mother back in 2007, I kept receiving conflicting advice like 'feed your baby on demand versus feed your baby every 4 hours to get them in a routine.'"

"Or 'let your baby cry themselves to sleep so they learn to self-soothe versus comfort and help your baby fall asleep' which left me confused and unable to feel confident in my parenting choices."

As a university educator and researcher, Rosina decided to dig deeper into the world of child development and parenting to help her make informed choices with her own kids.

When it comes to navigating the stressful moments like meal times, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

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But avoiding feeling stress is all to do with managing expectations, according to the expert.

"Young children have a very short attention span," she said.

"Overtime with patience and practice little ones will enjoy a meal with their parents and stay at the dinner table for longer periods of time and develop their tastes for a wider variety of meals. 

"Making mealtime enjoyable rather than a 'chore' will create a great foundation for a lifetime of happy shared meals."

Children are not mini adults

Anita Cleare, parenting expert and author of The Work/Parent Switch agreed that having reasonable expectations is a good place to start.

"The tantrum isn’t your fault, it is the sign of a child who has not yet learnt how to regulate their feelings and express them appropriately.

"Avoid positively reinforcing tantrums by giving them lots of attention, or by giving in and giving them what they want if that is the issue.

"Stay calm and acknowledge the emotion behind the tantrum, you could say something like, 'I can see you are upset because you really wanted that biscuit and I said No'.

Without meaning to, parents can encourage naughty behaviour by giving kids an 'accidental reward'.

"Children who are bored might also get up to no good… so good quality time with an adult or sibling or activities that keep them occupied can help to keep kids out of trouble!"

Anita explained: "If your child whines at you and you respond by giving them a smartphone to keep them quiet, the smartphone is acting as a positive reward for the whining.

"Your child may be more likely to whine again in the future because their whining was rewarded."

It's important to remember that "children are not mini adults," Anita said.

"When they are being difficult it is a good idea to wonder what unmet need is driving that behaviour.

"That doesn’t mean we give children everything they want, If their difficult behaviour is because you have said they can’t have a biscuit, the solution is not to give them the biscuit.

"The solution is to recognise that they need some help in learning to manage their feelings of disappointment or frustration."

Rosina also said that the key to a tantrum-free household is to understand that kids have their own way of thinking.

"Parents are often very busy trying to juggle the many demands of work and family – however to a child if they feel like they are being excluded or ignored they may act out to get their parent's attention.

"Children who are bored might also get up to no good… so good quality time with an adult or sibling or activities that keep them occupied can help to keep kids out of trouble!"

Despite your best efforts, sometimes tantrums are unavoidable.

But there are some things parents can do to to lessen the blow, according to Rosina.

1. "Get down to the child's level and stay as calm as possible."

2. "Reassure and soothe the child that everything will be alright – we can work things out

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3. "Explain you're there to help to solve the problem together as soon as they calm down."

4. "Help the child calm down with touch (if they allow it) and help them to take deep slow breaths!"

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