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"How would you handle a situation when you have to leave the park to go get your other two children and unfortunately can't sit on the bench for thirty minutes while she cries?" - Sandra

If you've been reading these Aha! parenting emails for awhile, you know that kids have big feelings that drive their behavior. If you want the behavior to change, you have to make it safe for them to show you the tears and fears that are driving it. Otherwise, those hurts stay clenched inside, stored in what we might think of as an emotional backpack. They come bubbling up whenever your child suffers even a small disappointment. To keep those roiling emotions zipped in the backpack, kids get angy and lash out.

So, you sometimes find yourself sitting on a park bench with a sobbing child. Amazingly, after the meltdown, your child is usually cooperative for the rest of the day, or even the week. Sibling squabbles diminish and your child is unusually affectionate. So any parent who can stay calm enough to support their child lovingly through a big cry usually becomes a convert and starts to embrace tears, rather than shutting them down.

BUT what if you don't have time?  Sometimes, after all, you have other children to go pick up, or "the baby is crawling away putting leaves in his mouth and my toddler is throwing a tantrum on the swing and my 4-year-old is running to the slides because he doesn't want to leave," as Kristin said on my Facebook page.

The answer is that sometimes you really don't have time for feelings.  So you do what you can to avoid the meltdown in the moment.  READ POST

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 | Permalink

"Today I will let myself feel what I am feeling and let my children feel what they are feeling....I'll pay attention to what each of us is feeling and give those feelings some respect and space. There's nothing so bad about them; they are only feelings and need not threaten me." -- Tian Dayton

Are your feelings dangerous?  Never.  But most of us are afraid of our strong feelings.  And we're afraid of our children's emotions. Why?  READ POST

Friday, October 26, 2012 | Permalink

“I can't believe you're telling parents not to discipline! I'm so tired of parents who can't say No to their child and let them rule the roost. No wonder kids today don't have any self-discipline."

Yesterday, we talked about Daring Not To Discipline. (And yes, I'm using discipline as the dictionary defines it: punishment.)

Like the above commenter, most parents assume that not punishing means permissive parenting. This is a new idea for most people, which is why it's the lengthiest chapter in my new book Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting. But resisting the urge to punish doesn't mean we don't set limits! In fact, neither permissive parenting nor authoritarian parenting work to raise self-disciplined kids.  The research on this is very clear: the kids who develop self-discipline, resilience, and emotional intelligence are raised with empathic limits.

So yes, LIMITS are an essential part of raising great kids. But not just any limits. EMPATHIC limits. That's because children develop self-discipline more readily when they feel more connected to us. Empathic limits means we:  READ POST

Thursday, October 25, 2012 | Permalink

"I don't understand why you say not to punish transgressions. I get the concept of the bigger the transgression, the greater the child's need is, but what if they really cross a line? Yesterday my 3-yr-old threw a book because he got mad. It hit my husband in the eye & cut his skin--yikes! I removed him from the room, told him that was not allowed ever & put him in a thinking spot. Yes? No?"  READ POST

Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Permalink

“I took your pledge of Yellibacy, but when I try to set limits my children just ignore me -- so I end up yelling." - Chris

Yesterday, we talked about why empathic limits are the secret to Raising a Self-Disciplined Child.  But sometimes it's not so easy to set an empathic limit. What if you state an expectation and your child ignores it?  It's hard to stay empathic then.  This is where most of us start yelling, or casting about for some threat to get our child to do what we want. Luckily, there's a better way.  READ POST

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Permalink