Friday, January 15, 2016

Will manual help for 3 year old?

I just came across your blog and book in researching about my 3.5 year old's lengthy tantrums/anger outbursts. He fits your descriptions perfectly. As much as I would like to think your book would help, I wonder if he is too young to use the coping skills and  tactics? He has absolutely no ability to reason. What age do you think is the earliest the practical skills would be appropriate?

Hi, The parent's manual is divided into three sections.  The first explains the key characteristics and the biological evidence for anger overload, the second section offers strategies that a parent implements, and the third section is about teaching children new skills for self-control.  The third section requires the child's cooperation.  For the skills in this section, the child must be able to observe his own behavior, and also be able to realize that other people can have different points of view.  This section I would recommend for children ages 8 and up (though this can vary depending on each child's cognitive development).  

The strategies in the second section, the ones where the parent is the "agent" of change can be used effectively with three year olds.  These strategies do not need a child to directly participate.  There are prevention strategies that involve lowering a child's expectations or re-arranging the sequence of events, before a child would get mad.  Then I explain emotional distraction techniques that a parent can use.  These are most helpful if used while a child is starting to get angry but before he explodes.  For anger overload, it is better to ignore and say as little as possible.  But if a child is harming someone or breaking valuable items, I explain how restraining the child becomes necessary.  Finally, I write about when to use praise and consequences, and explain how parents could model some of the strategies for their child.

So it is the middle section that will be helpful for younger children.  I explain some of the above concepts like emotional distraction in other blog posts and of course in the parent's manual.  Best, Dr. Dave Gottlieb

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