"Dr. Laura, I was wondering if you could
do a post about empathic limits. What is an appropriate response to bad
behavior from an unconditional parenting approach? For example, every
time I come home with my daughter I remind her that when we go inside
she must take off her shoes. She often will immediately run to the couch
and climb onto it with her shoes on. I know she does this precisely
because she knows she's not supposed to, and now I warn her if she
doesn't get down she will get a timeout. Usually she gets a timeout. I
can't not respond when she does something like this. What can I do
instead of a timeout?"
“You don't seem to ever discuss discipline in terms of teaching acceptable behavior. I really think its a lot of bull to give people an excuse not to have decent expectations. Sometimes these kids are brats and they need to be aware of it. I'm not saying that Screaming is good but it or other tactics besides hugs are necessary."
The Aha! Parenting website is actually loaded with information on teaching acceptable behavior using empathic limits, so if you aren't getting enough from these posts, please do some exploring on the website. I'm hoping you'll have an Aha! moment, which is this:
There is no such thing as a brat, only a child who is hurting. When our starting point as parents is a close bond with our children, we are their North Star, the point around which they orient. They want more than anything in the world to protect that relationship and meet our expectations. If our child is acting like a brat, she's either signalling that she needs a stronger connection with us, that she's got some big feelings she needs our help with, or that she can't meet our expectation without some tailored support.
So given that Aha! insight, which would be the most effective tactics to transform "bratty" behavior into cooperative behavior? READ POST
"What if you do all that, and he still won't brush his teeth? Give up for the night?"
In my post How Can You Set Limits If You Don't Use Threats to Enforce Them? we explored how to deal with the normal resistance that all kids feel from time to time. We used brushing teeth as our example, because most parents have problems with this daily habit in the early years. Why, after all, would any child want to brush his teeth?
I suggested that punishment and force will ultimately create more resistance, because force always creates push-back. After all, how would you feel if someone sat on you, pried open your mouth, forced a toothbrush in and scrubbed? Sure, you might begin to acquiesce. But I'm betting you'd be pushing back in other ways. Force creates power struggles. READ POST
"I'm struggling with how to enforce limits without
a consequence. For example, brushing teeth - she'll refuse. It's not
reasonable for me to do it by force, so I tell her if she can't brush
her teeth, I can't read a bedtime story to her. I do not understand how
to set limits if there are no consequences for ignoring the limit."
Great question. How do we "make" our child do what we want, if we don't use force? And brushing teeth is a perfect example, because I've never met a child who was internally motivated to brush his teeth -- or a parent who hasn't been frustrated trying to get kids to brush. READ POST
“The key is
unconditional kindness to all life, including one’s own, which we refer
to as compassion.” – David R. Hawkins
All parents know that children need unconditional love to thrive. But how can we give our children something most of us haven't really experienced?
The answer is that we CAN experience unconditional love -- by giving it to ourselves. We do this by actively, thoughtfully, accepting our selves -- imperfections and all. When we miss the mark of our own standards -- as we all do, all the time -- we give ourselves a compassionate hug, and resolve to give ourselves better support so we can keep moving in the right direction. READ POST
"You always recommend roughhousing,
and my kids do love it, but what do I do when they jump all over and get
too wild? Last week they broke the lamp and there was glass all over.
I was yelling like a crazy woman. I don't know which scared them more -- me or the glass." - Camille
Roughhousing is great for kids. Moving helps work out emotion. Laughter is even more important, since it vents anxiety and creates more oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Roughhousing builds self esteem, especially for kids who are less assertive, or smaller than other kids their age. And like other young mammals, when kids "play" fight, they learn to manage aggression, which makes them less likely to lash out when they're angry.
So when kids wrestle, pillow fight, and roughhouse, it's terrific for them. But it isn't always so good for our houses. And parents often worry that sooner or later, someone will get hurt. READ POST
"I had just read Dr. Laura’s blog about staying calm and acknowledging his desires. When the screaming and stomping began, I stopped what I was doing and sat down next to my three year old. I made eye contact, listened to his complaint and did not let the screaming anger me; I then calmly explained that I hear him. I know cheesy poofs are so tasty and I love them too but he will have to wait half an hour until dinnertime. He blubbered briefly, collapsed into my arms for a minute and then went to play with his toys. My husband congratulated me on keeping my cool. The best part? He was perfectly pleasant the rest of the evening. Wow!" – Aimee READ POST
"Realize that now, in this moment of time, you are creating. You are creating your next moment based on what you are feeling and thinking. That is what’s real. We can let go of the unconscious belief that being anxious about the past or the future will somehow protect us and instead reprogram our cells with new ways of responding.” -- Doc Childre
Do you worry about your child? Join the club. It's part of the job description. But when we say "Be careful!" to our child, we're not giving the message that we care, even though that's what we feel. We're giving the message that the world is an unsafe place and we don't have confidence in our child to navigate it. READ POST