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"An angry child is one who is quite frightened and sad underneath her tough stance. However small the issue, she feels that something absolutely vital to her is being threatened, and she has no choice but to fight. She also feels alone. As far as she can tell, no one understands her, no one will come to her rescue, and everyone is out to hurt her. Children naturally lean toward affection and companionship. When you see a child fiercely attacking her loved ones, you can assume that she is sitting on extremely painful feelings. She puts up her guard, daring us to care that she is hurt and needs help." - Patty Wipfler  READ POST

Thursday, June 13, 2013 | Permalink

"For me the biggest problem still remains my own anger and fear when my boy is crossing the line -- especially regarding safety. He has hurt me badly so many times. I know that probably he didn't mean it but the pain sometimes brought me to tears. I wish I could remain calm in those kind of situations."

Staying calm when our child hurts us is almost impossible.  Pain sends us immediately into our lower brain stem, which governs the "fight or flight" impulse, and our child immediately looks like the enemy. That automatically drops us onto  "the low road" of parenting. You know the low road.  It’s when you snarl at your child through clenched teeth, or start screaming, or become physically rough. When you lose all access to reason and feel justified in having your own little tantrum.  READ POST

Thursday, June 13, 2013 | Permalink

"Odd as it may seem, children who hit are children who are afraid. The fears that cause trouble for a child who hits usually have their roots in some frightening experience earlier in her life, even though she may not seem frightened at all. To manage her fear, the frightened child develops aggressive behavior that flares any time she feels tense. Instead of crying or saying she feels scared when her fears are triggered, she tightens up, can’t ask for help, and lashes out." -- Patty Wipfler

Most of us feel mortified when our child hits another child. We may know intellectually that he's lashing out because he's overwhelmed or scared, but we still feel like it's an emergency. His aggression triggers our "fight or flight" response -- and suddenly our own child looks like the enemy. We feel an urgent need to take action. Punishing action.  READ POST

Wednesday, June 05, 2013 | Permalink

"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

Friday, April 26, 2013 | Permalink