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How to Deal with Sulkers by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families LLC

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How to Deal with Sulkers

by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

There is probably nothing more annoying than being around people who sulk. Yes, it is true. Sulking is not just a child behavior. We see it everywhere and I must admit that I have sulked a time or two when I couldn't get what I wanted. And that is about the root of the problem, right there. People often resort to sulking because things are NOT going their way. Their face is completely devoid of expression or perhaps they are scowling. They refuse to speak to whoever 'crossed' them and force their presence on those around them by their frosty silence. They purposefully suck all the positive air out of a room in an effort to cause discomfort and to control the situation.

From an objective point of view, it would seem that all that negativism is using up a powerful lot of energy. Research says that it takes many, many more muscles to create a scowl than it does to smile. It is worth observing people walking along the street sometimes to see how glum faces there are around.

So how can we stop our children from becoming sulkers? Firstly, we have to look at ourselves and ask the burning question. Do we sulk? If we do then we have to consider a more effective way of dealing with our negative feelings. Our children may see that it is OK to act this way. We can't always have a win/win outcome. Many times one wins and the other loses. When it comes down to it, does it really matter in the long run who wins? We don't always have to be right. I have had to learn to begin a sentence with, "In my opinion..."

The basis of sulkiness is selfishness (Notice that the letter 'i' is near the middle in both words. Yes, I, I, I; me, me, me!) It is a very important lesson to learn that it is not all about 'me'. Jesus was right when He made it clear that we are here to serve others and not just our own needs.

So, how can parents deal with a sulky child? We need to look carefully at their general behavior. Do they always want the biggest and best toy, the biggest slice of cake, or to be first in the line for ice cream? They need to learn to take turns, to share and to do things that will please others rather than be self-serving. Is sulking an unusual behavior for this child? If so, then perhaps there is something going on that really needs to be addressed. Are they troubled or afraid? It is important to explore possible causes, rather than just jump on the exhibiting behavior.

If it seems that your child is using sulky behavior to manipulate a situation (because they have found out it works!) for their own benefit there are several approaches you can take. Ask the child straight out why they are sulking. If they won't say and you are sure there is nothing sinister going on then you can say that a grumpy face is not going to get them what they want. Explain your behavioral expectations and boundaries for their behavior. If it continues, you can remove them from the room until they are willing to express themselves respectfully. You can choose to ignore the sour face, but praise them when they do behave as you expect.

It is vital that your kids learn how to channel their frustrations effectively without reverting to pouting, grumbling or throwing a tantrum. Teach them that they need to purposefully try to light up a room rather than to drain all the energy from it.

If you have any comments or suggestions on this subject, please feel free to email us at sally@forefrontfamilies.org and check out our website at www.forefrontfamilies.org and our blogsite at www.forefrontfamilies.blogspot.com

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