Questions & Answers

From Sulking To Smiling: A Simple 3-Step Process


How do you deal with a child who likes to sulk?


Sulking is a way for children to express their upset. A sulking child would be silent, refusing to speak, eat or be involved in any activity that you would like him to do. Children need to learn early that sulking is not a positive way to let people know that something is not right; sulking does not solve any problems at all. Under normal circumstances, and unless your gut feeling tells you otherwise, it is best to ignore the child when he is sulking. In general, the more attention you give to the sulking behaviour, the more encouraged he is to sulk. Giving attention at this time is actually rewarding him.

When the sulking period is over, tell the child in a matter-of-fact way that:

1.  you are not a mind-reader.

2.  you would like to help him but you can’t, so long as you don’t know what is bothering him.

3.  In order for you to help him, he will have to tell you what went wrong.

If he sulks again in future, repeat step 1) to 3). A simple prompt would help, e.g. say, “I’m not a mind-reader.” At times, that’s all that is needed to change a misbehaviour. Do not expect a complete change overnight. Note that a child who appears to be sulking might be just trying to sort out his or her emotions. In this case, let the child be, as the ability to deal with one’s own emotions is a function of maturity.




Photo by Allan Mas from Pexels

About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 540 articles.

Jamilah Samian is an author and speaker.

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