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I don't want to!

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Callum Callum | 15:23 UK time, Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Hello Sophea

I empathise completely with your experiences of bringing up a toddler.

This morning my son James woke up in a terrible mood. He didn't want to do anything and any question he was asked was met with a resounding 'no'.

It's very challenging when you are trying to get ready in the morning, you are up against the clock and your child is throwing a wobbly.


James - in his usual good mood 


It's even worse when he tells you "Don't talk to me – I don't like daddy!" You know he doesn't mean it but even so, it doesn't make you feel good.

When he is in this kind of mood, which thankfully is quite rare, my wife and I have realised that there is no point discussing things with him or giving him options.

When he threw his first tantrum, shortly after his second birthday – they're not called the "terrible-twos" for nothing, we made the mistake of giving him choices. "Do you want to do this, or this?" Big mistake which got us nowhere fast.

In the end we realised we have to make the choice for him and tell him what he's doing. This usually leads to a gradual decrease in the level of his anger and in a few minutes he is magically transformed back into a loving little boy. You just have to be assertive and be both gentle and firm so he knows you are in charge.

Very rarely we use what is called the 'naughty step'. If he has been particularly naughty, for example if he hits or bites, he has a 'time out'. This is when he has to sit in a particular place by himself with no books or toys until he apologises. He's only usually there for a couple of minutes before he calms down and says sorry with a cuddle and a kiss.

He's not had many 'time outs' recently which shows that he is learning and is more able to control his behaviour. During his strop this morning he did start to swing as if to hit me, but then he stopped – I think he realised that would have been wrong.

It's still a steep learning curve for me being a dad. I look at my parents with much more regard now as I realise what a tough job it is. But despite the challenges, I wouldn't change it for the world!



to empathise with someone
when you empathise with someone it means that you understand what they are going through because you have experienced it yourself

a resounding 'no'
a definite and strong expression of 'no'

this is a modern way of saying  'difficult' - it's a way of making a negative situation sound like it is a positive thing

up against the clock
running out of time

throwing a wobbly
being extremely angry and upset

a tantrum
a period of uncontrolled anger, usually from a child

the terrible-twos
expression to describe the period when children are two years old and seem to have more and more tantrums

they're not called  ---------  for nothing
an expression used to emphasise that something has been described in a particular way for a good reason

to get nowhere fast
to achieve nothing

to be assertive
to express yourself clearly and confidently without showing anger

a strop
a period of being in a bad mood


Homework task

I'd welcome any advice on this topic: How do you deal with an angry or naughty child?



  • Comment number 1.

    Hello Callum,
    I still remember your voices of different kinds of cats. We heard it few years ago. But it was really amusing. When child is angry or adamant if you make like that he will cool down and enjoy. Did you try like that any time? I must tell you how my children suffer and got angry when I went out for my work. My work place is away from my family. I am with my family members only during the weekends. I go to my family in the midweek some time. My children were very adamant and sorrowful mood on Monday morning since I had leave them for my work. I tried to pacify by all means but it all useless. They did not want me to go for work and cried like anything. I had to leave home when they were crying with sad mood. I felt very happy when they asked over phone when you are coming home again in that same evening. Even they count the days of my coming. Some time we tried to control or pacify them. but it all were useless and out of our hand. slowly they will calm down. it was a terrible time.
    I was expecting your comment about my English learning experience in the previous one. You didn’t make it. Wasn’t so meaningful?

  • Comment number 2.


    Hi - don't worry! I wrote my responses on the previous blog before your posting was published. I will give feedback soon!

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello Collum,
    You are one of my favorite teachers of BBC Learning English. That is why I was expecting your comments. Sorry to trouble you. Bye.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello Collum,
    I am a newcomer of BBC learning English. It is my pleasure to meet you and I really enjoy reading your blog. From my point of view, I will just simply leave the angry child and let him to think about his naive behaviour. Needless to say, sometimes we should give them advice. However, sometimes we should let them learn be self-disciplined. Maybe you would say that it is brutal for the child, but child will not always protected--especially when they leave the colleges and work in the society. This kind of training should be provided when they are still very young. It can prevent them from becoming self-ego children.

  • Comment number 5.


    I remember when my son, toddler then, was very angry, rolling on the street and crying. I waited for the tantrum to pass - and experienced something that felt awkward. Three elderly people stopped in order to watch and comment, saying it was inadmissible. I clearly felt they disapproved my way of doing things and would have liked to see me slap my child. Despite of the watchers I went on waiting for the tantrum to pass, which of course eventually happened.

    An other of my sons was crying in a shop, but there an elderly lady surprised my son by saying "come with me". He immediately stopped crying and was ready to go with the lady, who got astonished. We exchanged a couple of words and my son stayed with me, in a calm mood. What I think worked was partly the effect of surprise.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi Callum,

    Lovely! He seems to be very pleased with wearing his dark glasses....and it's not likely to change his mood shortly in this photo. It's always wonderful to see kids smiling. But 'tantrum'?....I am not quite sure....^^

    Well....I have a grandson who will be 3 years old next month, so it's very interesting to know the experiences of bringing up a toddler of others. Though I don't look after him always, we get together quite often.

    His parents, my daughter and son-in-law, seems to try hard to be a good parents...as he is their first child. Whenever he throw his tantrum, they seem to have a long talk to find out where the problems came from....I often admire them for their patience of talking to a toddler with such polite way.

    These days the circumstances has enormously changed comparing my own days of raising children. Most of parents are well educated. There are many books, sites of internet that are able to get some useful advices, informations of caring children as soon as they need.

    And yet, when it comes to dealing with those moments that their children behave particularly naughty, parents could be very embarrassed. Sometimes my daughter asks me some advices about her son's behaviour. I usually say "He will be changed soon, don't worry" or "Don't try to teach what's wrong or right, just hold him tightly in your arms when he is in bad mood" ...I know I can say that as I am his grandmother not his mother.

    Today I've got a good idea from you Callum, very interesting idea indeed....
    'time out'...It sounds well-accustomed to your son, but I am not sure if it would be the same to my grandson as they are different individuals.....^^
    Anyway I'd like to let my daughter know about this writing....She might be very interested in reading it.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Callum ,
    Wow , Congratulation , no doubt your son is so cute ! Hope to see more shots of this wonderful boy ! Nice to hear stories of your son rare mischiefs and the time out . Hopefully my second cheeky monkey recently turned to three and his behavior magically has improved . Thanks God usually he wakes up in a good mood but some times specially when we are in a hurry to go out or to go back home he starts some tantrums . For example he sits down on stairs or locks himself to fence and he don't want to move ….. As you said the best way is to be gentle and calm : ) which is not easy Job at all !Most of the time my hubby tries to say funny words and making him to laugh and it helps a lot ! At the end Thank you for the astonishing Blog and helpful expressions and I empathise with you and I wouldn't change being a mother for the world too ;)

  • Comment number 8.

    Hello Callum,
    thank you for your a new vocabulary. James is so cute little child in this photo too, he is the best boy in the world, let him to do whatever he want.
    Best wishes. Emat

  • Comment number 9.

    Hello Callum,
    I really like your attitude to teach children how to control their anger. In my opinion, we need to explain to the children that they are doing worng so that they can distinguish between right and wrong works next time. Then your methods to punish stubborn children to force them to sit one place without comic books or toys until they apologize is really amused me. As you mentioned in the article, these methods are working on your kid to learn to control anger, i would like to add one way. Children are really vulnerable and easy to manipulate. While they get angry or upset about something, we can buy toys or comic books or take them to the parks or zoos to change their mind and make it more energetic. I do believe it would help them to forget the reason of their anger and turn them into good mood.

    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello Callum
    I think It's wisest way to bring up your child.Though It takes much of nerves. It's really challenging matter. Most hard thing is to keep the border between to not harm the vulnerable psychology of child and don't make from your child selfish ,naughty one. Your telling and photo brings on me huge smile. Thank you.


  • Comment number 11.

    Hello Callum

    I have my own way to deal with naughty kids by talking nicely to them first, if they don't listen to me, I will ignor them for a few minutes and keep an eye on them untill they realise they are wrong.



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