"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 screaming or other tactics besides hugs are necessary."
The Aha! Parenting website is loaded with hundreds of pages of examples of how to teach 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, as long as that doesn't compromise their own integrity. If our child is acting like a "brat," she's either signaling 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. After all, that (along with modeling) is how we teach acceptable behavior!
So given that Aha! insight, which would be the most effective tactics to transform "bratty" behavior into cooperative behavior? READ POST
"I watch their softly tousled heads slumbering on
their pillows, and sadness wells up in me. Have I drunk in their smiles
and laughter and hugged them, or have I just checked things off my to-do
list today? They're growing so quickly. One morning I may wake up and
one of my girls will be getting married, and I'll worry: Have I played
with them enough? Have I enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of their
lives?" -- Janet Fackrell
It's part of our job description as parents to guide our kids and keep them moving through the daily routine. All too often, that means setting limits, denying requests, correcting behavior. Sometimes we're skillful enough that our child doesn't perceive our guidance as "negative." More often, kids give us the benefit of the doubt because all the other loving, affirming interactions create a positive balance in our relationship account. That's why creating those positive interactions with your child matters so much.
Research shows we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life. So when we're short on positive interactions, our relationship balance dips into the red. As with any bank account, we're overdrawn. That's when kids resist our guidance and develop attitude, whether they're two or twelve.
Life is busy, and you don't need one more thing for your to-do list. Instead, why not create a few daily habits that replenish your relationship account with your child? After thirty days, any action becomes a habit, so you don't have to think about it. Here are 20 things you can start doing today to build a closer relationship with your child. READ POST
"Okay, you've convinced me not to punish. But my two year old still bites, has tantrums, throws his food and scribbles on the furniture...." - Rebecca
Unfortunately, a two year old's frontal cortex is still developing the ability to control his emotions and behavior. That means they throw food, break things, have meltdowns, bite when they're mad, and scribble on the furniture. In other words, they act like two year olds.
But since the brain is still developing through the teen years, kids of all ages sometimes lack the rational control to behave as we'd like. Sometimes even 15 year olds act like 2 year olds!
So what can you do when your child acts out, whether he's a toddler or a teen? Here are the five best strategies for preventing misbehavior, for all age kids. READ POST
"You will always be your child's favorite toy." -- Vicki Lansky
“Kids may be screaming for the latest gadget, but what they want more than anything is time with the family. Make that your biggest gift this year.” – MidnightBliss
All of us want to make our children's faces shine by gifting them with something special, especially at the holidays. Isn't that what makes dreams come true?
Unfortunately, no. In fact, those material presents are a bit like drugs -- the lift is temporary, followed by a deeper inner craving, eventually tinged with desperation. READ POST
"I give my kids plenty of attention. What's so special about Special Time?" - Emilee
"Giving your child Special Time is an active form of listening, in which your child’s play becomes her vehicle for telling you about her life and perceptions." - Patty Wipfler
"Special time is priceless because it symbolizes the parent’s unconditional love for the child." - B.J. Howard
Every parent I know who has started doing Special Time with his or her child has told me that they see significant changes in their child's behavior. Parents often say that their child seems to respond to it as if they've been missing an essential nutrient. In a way, they have.
Why? Because Special Time heals the upsets and disconnections of daily modern life. We live in a stressful culture that disconnects us from each other, from our feelings, and from our own inner wisdom. Special Time is the antidote for parents and children, because it: READ POST
"Where does resilience come
from?....It comes from knowing that you never have to be
alone….If you feel connected, you will always be able to deal with
adversity. The skills we need to deal with adversity begin with a
feeling of I can handle this. It is a feeling of No matter what happens, I can find a solution; a feeling of I have dealt with hard times and come out fine before; a feeling of Even when I feel lost, I always have somewhere to turn.” – Dr. Edward Hallowell
Life is full of hard knocks. What makes some people get up the next morning determined to try again, while others give up? Resilience. READ POST
don't understand how to even begin to validate our very strong willed
2.5 son when he is screaming at me from inside the van and won't get in
his seat so we can get his big sister from school and the 6 month old is
there as well..." - Anita
What happens to your car if you don't fill it with gas, change the oil, and give it a regular tune up? It ends up in the breakdown lane. Life with children isn't so different. Unfortunately, parents aren't given a preventive maintenance plan for their children. But if you don't refill your child's love tank, roughhouse with him daily so he gets some good giggling in, and give him regular one-on-one time, you can count on more breakdown time. Especially if there's a relatively new baby in the family, or if you're transitioning from conventional parenting to gentle parenting and your child has some old emotions to process. READ POST