"Today I stepped outside to clean up
some toys while my kids were eating. My 2 year old ran to the back door
and cried out for me. My 4 year old didn't like his screaming and ran
over and punched him several times. My 2 year old got so upset he threw
up his whole lunch all over me. My 4 year old confessed "Mom, I did a
bad thing...I punched S because he was crying and it made me mad." I
have been getting very upset, sternly asking my 4 year old "Why do you
want to hurt your brother?...I'm very disappointed in you and sad about
this." I typically do 4 minutes timeout and an apology for the bad
behavior, then be nice to your brother for 3 days and then you get a
superhero movie. Is this wrong?"
Is it a bad thing to use rewards and punishment? Well, it doesn't actually work as well as emotion coaching and empathic limits to stop your son's hitting, and it doesn't teach the lessons you want to teach. The research says that if your son does stop hitting, it won't be because he has learned that hitting hurts his brother, but because he doesn't want to be punished. Of course, most parents would be willing to accept this, just to stop the hitting. But most kids just keep hitting, because the rewards and punishment don't help them with the underlying feelings or teach them a better way to solve the problem that caused the hitting. They just get sneakier, stop confessing, and start blaming. And it doesn't sound like your rewards and punishment are working, if he's still punching his brother to the point where his brother throws up. READ POST
"I love your posts, but my husband is
afraid that if we allow our kids to get upset as you suggest, they'll
never learn to control their emotions. Don't we need to just say No
sometimes?" - Rachel
All of us worry about our kids learning to control their emotions. After all, it's emotions that so often get us off track and into trouble. And of course we need to just say No sometimes. Kids can't run into the street, throw their food at each other, or pee on their baby brother. But setting limits on children's behavior doesn't mean we need to set limits on what they feel. READ POST
"Hey, Mom, Dad, I'm overwhelmed with
some big feelings here....I don't know what to do with them...They're
bubbling up inside me and I feel so scared and sad and mad...I'll do
anything to make these feelings go away, including hit someone...No,
don't you come close offering me hugs...that would send me right into
tears...I can't bear all that sadness...It must be your fault I'm
feeling all these bad feelings....I'll drive you away by any means
Don't you wish your child could just TELL you he's feeling this way, instead of screaming "I hate you, you're the worst mother in the world!"?
But when your child is acting out, it's because he CAN'T tell you about those feelings. So he "acts them out." It's his way of sending you an SOS. 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
“Sometimes life is so hard. I just wish I could be in a better mood,
so I could be nicer to my kids!" - Karen
"We're not grateful because we're happy. We're happy because we're grateful.” - Brother David Stendl-Rast
Life can be hard. And being a parent is one of the hardest things we do. No wonder we're in a bad mood sometimes. READ POST
I posted this only a few months ago, so it may seem familiar to you. I rarely re-post until at least a year has gone by, but in the past week, I have found myself referring about twenty parents to this post. These five
habits are essential for every family, will get you past any rough
patch, and will prevent rough patches. They're a perfect way to start the new year. Enjoy!
Dr. Laura....I 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
"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