Bosses get mad when you stop

When toddlers are the bosses at home


"First of all, something about my family: My husband drives to work very early and is usually only home from 3 pm, sometimes not until 5 pm to 6 pm. Then I am alone with the three children (seven, four and two). The two older boys argue almost every day. There is screaming or shoving, but at least I manage to arbitrate very quickly and easily. The big problem I have with my little daughter: She's after the middle son. She takes He gets rid of everything and annoys him permanently. Even if he sometimes just sits down or moves, and she doesn't like it at the moment, she screams in an extremely high-pitched and loud voice. She screams so high that my ears hurt. She does it all the time when she wants something and can't express herself very well. My boys give her everything immediately when she screams. And sometimes, when they don't give her that, she screams until she blushes and sweats all over the place.

If the boys are in kindergarten or school, however, she plays calmly and is very nice. But as soon as the older children get a little attention from us parents, they want to cuddle, for example, she screams and doesn't let us go.

Their behavior even intimidates strangers. We're always being looked at in public and everyone turns around. It is really very exhausting for me. It's very uncomfortable because of course the neighbors hear that too. I would like to move far away, where no one can hear us.

In the meantime, our mood is very bad, I scold a lot and have become listless. I wonder, of course, whether I have spoiled my daughter too much and she is now using screaming as a means to get to her goal, or whether there is something deeper behind it.

Basically, however, I wonder how I can make my whole family quieter. We are all extremely loud. My boys also speak much louder than other children. The ENT has clarified, there is nothing to be found. I'm really at the end of my nerve and I want some rest! "

Answer from Hans-Otto Thomashoff

It seems to me that (at least) three questions are at stake here: First and foremost is how to deal with the behavior of your daughter, who is currently enjoying her defiant phase and is clearly having success. With her annoying screams she has blossomed into a veritable little family tyrant. Although she rushes from success to success at the moment, these successes are not profitable in the long term - not even for your daughter herself. Because what is still working well at the moment will sooner or later reach its limits. Therefore, she has to learn how to deal with limits and the frustration that arises when you encounter a limit. It is precisely this learning process as preparation for real life that works best under knowledgeable parental guidance.

Since you, the mother, are plainly and comprehensible with your nerves at the end of your daughter's behavior, it is high time you set appropriate boundaries for her. The little one has to learn that, unlike her older brother, her screaming is not rewarded with you, but on the contrary, you will not tolerate it. A calm, but clear and consistent no is required. Surely your daughter will scream and rave because she gets angry. But then the simple rule applies: she can be angry - because feelings cannot be forbidden - but she still has to adhere to the rules, so: There is no screaming.

If words do not help, send her to her room until she has calmed down again, or you will find other consequences that the little one can understand and that make it unmistakably clear that you are not playing her game. The tantrums are sure to be violent, and it will take a few times for your parental effort to work, but the alternative is for it to only get worse. At the same time, you should explain to your sons that they also don't have to let their sister dance around on their faces. A no is also allowed for them.

The second point concerns how your family deals with the volume level. Because everyone is obviously too loud, everyone is challenged to do this. Sit down together at one table and decide together that things should be quieter from now on. Discuss what sanctions there might be for screamers - and then be consistent. Be a role model in Leisereden too. Together with your husband. This can be practiced well by reporting on the beautiful plans for the weekend or other temptations. Then the child's ears are sure to prick up, even when they are almost whispering. When your kids watch TV, they should turn the TV down too, especially those programs that your kids really like.

The third point that remains is that you are concerned about talk from your neighbors. It is important to draw a line for yourself. As long as you are comfortable with your husband and children and move within the permitted volume norm, you may not really care what others think. Don't worry other people's heads or forget your own sense of humor. Here too, the following applies: a clear limit is permitted. (Hans-Otto Thomashoff, 6/8/2020)

Answer from Linda Syllaba

In my opinion, your question is very complex and suitable for one or more individual consultation appointments. So it becomes difficult here, in this format, to be helpful with just a few ideas and impulses. Nevertheless, I will try to name at least some underlying issues about the symptoms:

Apparently the screaming girl has a very special position within the family, in my opinion that of the "boss" in the house. My impression when reading is that there is a certain overwhelming demand on your part, which on the one hand leads to you saying yes when you mean no, and on the other hand pushes your daughter into a managerial task that she was unable to cope with at the age of two. She uses what is available to her - and screams. Since she experiences that by screaming she gets what she wants, she moves on. She doesn't know that the price is extremely high, namely that she gets less and less of what she needs. That would be security and stability through clarity and orientation that she receives from her parents when they take their leadership role seriously.

For you as a mother, this means first and foremost taking good care of yourself so that you can take on this challenge to the full. You can already tell from your mood, the amount of ranting, your listlessness that you are no longer in good shape. But since it is your responsibility to maintain the atmosphere and quality of family relationships, you will not be able to avoid strengthening yourself.

Next, I recommend that you maintain your relationship with your husband as if he were your firstborn. Even if he goes to work full-time, your relationship with him can be a source of energy for you. When he is at home, he can devote himself to the team task of parenting together with you. The more smoothly, the better for everyone. If this basis is right, i.e. that you and your relationship with your husband are doing well, you have almost won.

I read a few more beliefs, expectations and questions of attitude from your lines that you can ask yourself. As long as or as soon as you are clear in thoughts, words and deeds, I think a lot will calm down. Like so many other parents, you may seize the opportunity to grow personally with the task of being a parent. I am happy to accompany you on your way, individually and also online. Then at some point it will also be quieter at home. (Linda Syllaba, 6/8/2020)