The only think most of us parents want is for our children to be happy. We slog day in and day out, in the office, in the house, in the park and even in the sleep, planning and doing things that we believe would result in your child’s short-term and long-term happiness.
Despite all these efforts, when your child starts whining and sulking for a very small thing that did not go in his way, it can be very frustrating and look very ungrateful. Although we say “child” here, it is not just children who resort to sulking, even your teenager can be king of sulking times! Why do they do it? How do you stop it? Read on.
- Why Does Your Child Sulk?
- What Can Be Done To Reduce Your Child’s Sulking?
Why Does Your Child Sulk?
Whining, pleading, shouting and sulking are the most insidious methods that your child uses to drive the parents crazy. A small thing that did not go your child’s way can be something really hurtful after all your attempts of keeping him happy.
- They cannot express though words yet: Smaller kids have not developed a strong enough vocabulary to express the frustration or displeasure they are feeling. So how do they express it? By sulking
- They are afraid to communicate: Sometimes the child does have the vocabulary to express his feelings, but is afraid to do so because of the repercussions he might face from his strict parents or caretakers. He would then sulk because he feels that is “safer” than cribbing
- They lack emotional intelligence: Children, and even teens, often lack the emotional intelligence required to express their negative feelings in a healthy way. Sometimes they do not even recognize their emotions and sulk for no apparent reason
- They want attention: For many kids, any attention is good attention. So even if a negative behavior like sulking will attract your (i.e., the parents’) anger, your child does not mind it, as long as you are reacting
- They want to manipulate you: If you are a parent who give into that sad curled lips, and let your child have his way, then you have given your child a very powerful tool to manipulate you!
What Can Be Done To Reduce Your Child’s Sulking?
We give here few tips on how to react to your child’s sulking and also to reduce it altogether.
- Do not react to sulking: The biggest mistake parents can do is to react to the sulking. If your child still sulks, it is probably because he knows he can get his way through it. You need to teach your child other ways to express his feelings. However, once you do that, the best thing you can do is to ignore the sulking all together. Do not give your child more power and add meat to their behavior by punishing or giving in. Both those reactions will only reinforce your child’s attitude towards sulking
- Help them express their emotions in other ways: Sit down with your child (when he is not sulking) and discuss alternative ways to express his feeling without so much drama, sulking and whining. Tell him to speak about his feelings rather than pouting. Communicate to them clearly that you are not going to respond to sulking under any circumstances. He will simply have to find a better and constructive way to express his frustration
- Give your child freedom of speech: We mentioned earlier how some kids are just scared to speak up. To check this, create a positive and open atmosphere in the house where the child is free to speak his feelings, albeit in a non-aggressive way. Tell your child that sulking is a passive method to let others know of his feeling. Speaking about it is the active and more appropriate way. Assure them that they are safe to speak their minds
- Help them communicate: While it is easier to teach older kids to express themselves constructively and through words, it is a very difficult task for you preschooler simply because they lack the vocabulary to communicate. Again, sit down with the child and help them learn few key words, like sad, angry etc. You can also bring positive attitude in their lives by teaching them how to deal with these emotions. Distraction works best when they are that small
- Both parents be consistent: Whichever method you employ to react to your child’s sulking, the most important thing to remember is that both the parents (and anyone else dealing with the sulking, like grandparents and nannies) have to be consistent in their approach. Even if both parents do not react to the sulking, if one grandparent resort to pampering the sulking child – it is not going to work. This is mostly the reason why many kids do not sulk in school (where teachers do not feed the sulking) but do so at home. It is the responsibility of the parents and the caretakers to establish certain house rules and stick to them, without giving way to sulking