"We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth." -- Virginia Satir
We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it's also sweet -- so we receive as much as we give. That's what makes parenting worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate. They trust us to know what's best for them, to be on their side. I hear regularly from parents that everything changes once they focus on connecting, not just correcting. READ POST
"Whereas he was once the center of your universe, he has been displaced from this paradise. He is now in time out, while you coo at his tiny rival. You cannot, of course, push back the clock to a time when he, alone, was the apple of your eye. All the same, trying to imagine how frustrated your 3 year old must often feel can help you counteract his sense of loss. Your expressions of love, gestures of devotion, and moments of intimacy with your son can help him feel less deserted and alone. Helping your son recapture a sense of shared joy in his relationship with you will turn down the fuel of his hate, and--in addition--smooth the pathway to his identification... as a loving, protective, sharing person." -- Elizabeth Berger
Every parent with more than one child knows that some sibling rivalry is inevitable. But what about when your child really acts out -- like when your almost-3- year old pees on the baby? In our last post we considered whether sticker charts work for a crime of passion like this, and why spankings and timeouts just increase the amount of anger and jealousy your little one is feeling and make it even harder, over time, for him to control himself.
If you missed that post, it's here: When You Pee On Your Brother You've Gone Too Far. Bottom line: Kids "act out" when they have big feelings they can't put into words. So they act them out, to show you. If you want to change the behavior, help the child with the emotions driving the behavior.
In other words, don't get stuck in reacting and punishing, which is likely to make the child more defiant and aggressive. Instead, focus on prevention, to nip this behavior in the bud. Remind yourself that your child's acting out is a red flag that he needs your help with his emotions, so he doesn't act out like this again. Sure, you should set a limit, but every child knows he shouldn't pee on the baby. He just couldn't manage those big feelings enough to stop himself--or maybe he simply didn't care, which is worse, because it’s a symptom that the child considers his connection to you less important than doing what he wants. READ POST
"To listen fully means to pay close attention to
what is being said beneath the words....You listen not only
for what someone knows, but for who he or she is. Ears operate at the
speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed of light the eyes
take in. Generative listening is the art of developing deeper silences
in yourself, so you can slow your mind's hearing to your ears' natural
speed, and hear beneath the words to their meaning." -- Peter Senge
In our fast-paced life, we often take a secret pride in how busy we are, how good we are at multi-tasking, how fast we can move. We enjoy the rush of adrenaline. But that fast pace can make us impatient with ourselves, and with our children. Too often, we don't take the extra moment to slow down and connect. We forget to appreciate and take joy in our kids--which is, after all, what makes parenting worth it. We fly through the day without really listening to what matters to him, or the questions she's struggling to articulate. 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
In my last post, When You Just Don't Have Time for That Meltdown, I pointed out that Preventive Maintenance can help you avoid meltdowns at those inconvenient times, like when you're trying to get your kids in the car to go somewhere. What's preventive maintenance?
Well, 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 stuffed emotions to process. READ POST
"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