Are you suffering from TMI syndrome? (TMI: Too much information)

October 30th, 2012

Recently I’ve been hearing lots of parents talk about how much is too much information (TMI) when they are talking with their children. Often it’s difficult to understand what are healthy boundaries. There is a tendency for parent to over explain situations. I see this happening with young children, whereby a parent will offer a lengthy explanation to their child why they can’t have a snack right now. The parent often is providing way too much information and justification as the child melts down into tantrums.  This not only happens with toddlers, but I see it in teens and young adults too. Parents lovingly offer up lengthy reasons why their teen shouldn’t do something and the teen launches into their version of a teen tantrum with whining, eye rolling, and anger.

 

Yes, modeling personal boundaries is essential to developing a healthy sense of self in your child. They need to hear you say “no” and they need to learn how to cope with the feelings around not getting what they want. However, there are many ways to set boundaries. You can set a boundary using a brief (one-two sentences) reason why. If it’s reasonable, allow your child a different choice or an opportunity to come up with a different idea. If you are firm on your decision do not launch into TMI lecture mode, this gives your child a reason to default to tantrums.

Here’s how you can use this simple strategy with your kids tonight and see changes in how you communicate.

For example, your child wants a candy bar before dinner.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “You can’t have a candy bar you know it’s dinner time, you are always wanting to eat something before supper, why don’t you do something else instead, like take the dog for a walk, or help me out in the kitchen…”

 

You could respond this way:

“No you can’t have a candy bar before dinner, you can have an apple or grapes instead”. (Do not say anything more. If they default to whining mode remind them ONE time of their choice and do not saying anything more)

 

For example, your pre-teen wants to go to a party with some friends.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “You’re always asking me to go to these parties and I’m tired of hearing about how all your friends are doing it, because we are not your friend’s parents, they let them do what ever they want …”

 

 

You could respond this way:

“I don’t feel comfortable with you being at this party without knowing who will be there. So I need to talk to the parents before hand if you’d like to go.” (Do not say anything more. If they default to whining mode remind them ONE time of their choice and do not saying anything more)

 

For example, you and your spouse have been arguing in front of the children.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “Your father is so annoying I can’t stand it when he acts like that, he’s always doing things to get me mad…”

 

 

You could respond this way:

“Your father and I have been not getting along recently and I am sorry you have had to hear us arguing. We are doing our best to communicate better and will try to be respectful of your feelings.”

 

When you master TMI you can use it in all sorts of situations without becoming upset and reactive, and you will teach your child healthy and respectful communication. Try it tonight and see how it works.

If you need some tools and additional support join the International Parents & Professionals Community and get instant access 24/7  to support resources and a great group of professionals and parents! Our November support call is “7 Creative Activities to Help Toddlers and Preschoolers Positively Identify and Express Their Emotions” Can’t wait to welcome you on the support call!

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