You Get What You Get by Julia Gassmann and Sarah Horne

Things don’t always go the way we want, and learning to take the myriad disappointments that we will inevitably face in life in our stride, is an important coping skill that children have to learn at some point — preferably the earlier, the better — or they (and their parents) will probably end up pretty miserable. (Plus, it’d be a nightmare if they grow up to be petulant grown-ups who still resort to throwing tantrums to get their way!)

In You Get What You Get, the protagonist Melvin is forced to control his emotions when he is at school, even when he is not happy about various situations — all because his teacher has imposed a very strict rule against tantrums:

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At home, however, since his family doesn’t know about the rule, Melvin thinks that he is allowed to throw a fit whenever he doesn’t get his way — and he does, at every opportunity. That is, until one night, he accidentally blurts out his teacher’s infamous rule to everyone at home.

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This book is a great tool for parents with children who are going through a similar phase as Melvin; and while tantrumy kids are unlikely to change their behaviour overnight, the catchy title line “You get what you get” does stick in their minds, and serves as a good cautionary reminder whenever they are on the verge of, well, throwing a fit. The simple language used and familiar situations described in the story also enable kids to identify with Melvin easily.

As this story illustrates, while children don’t necessarily like being told what to do, rules do help to establish clear boundaries that enable them to consciously keep their own behaviour in check and grow in maturity.

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