"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
"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
"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
"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
"Dr. Laura....In your last post, you warned
parents against fighting in front of our kids. But as you always say,
we're not perfect, we're human! What are we supposed to do when we
disagree? And isn't it good for kids to see parents work out
disagreements, and make up? And isn't okay if spouses don't always agree
-- we can still love each other."
Yes, Yes, Yes! The nature of human relationships is that we will disagree. It's wonderful for children to see their parents model how to work out disagreements. It's important for them to know that we don't always agree, but we always love each other. And it's critical for kids to see us make up.
That doesn't mean it's okay to yell at each other in front of our kids. The research shows that a disagreement followed by working things through and making up can teach kids valuable lessons about working through conflicts constructively. But the research also shows that yelling always affects kids badly, even if you make up eventually. Yelling is not constructive conflict resolution, ever. It's a tantrum. (And no, it's not "authentic." What's authentic is the tears and fears under the yelling.)
So given that conflicts are inevitable, how can you best handle them when you live with kids?
1. When you or your partner start to get irritated, start by doing exactly what you would do (or hope to do!) if you were irritated with your child – Breathe! Notice your upset. Remind yourself that you love your partner and you can work this out.
2. If you can keep your equilibrium to discuss the issue, do so. Your kids will benefit from watching you: READ POST
"Yesterday my husband and I had an argument at dinner time in front of the kids. My four year old daughter yelled at us to ‘Be quiet!’ … My two year old had a tough time going to bed, which is unusual for him. Could that have had to do with mommy and daddy arguing?” READ POST
"Behind the anger, behind the
disrespect, and behind the manipulation is a scared child in desperate
need of connection, love, and acceptance. ... If you show up for your
child in a different state, he can only be different...When you are in a
loving state, you automatically do the right thing...Love never fails."
- Heather T. Forbes
What does Valentine’s Day have to do with parenting? Love. The purpose of Valentines Day is to celebrate love of all kinds. The purpose of parenting, quite obviously, is to raise children. But I believe that parenting has a secret purpose--to transform us, the parents. Parenting helps us heal ourselves. Live more fully. Learn to love unconditionally.
We all forget that, of course. Everyday life often seems like a series of struggles to get our kids to sleep through the night, use the potty, brush their teeth, eat their dinner, stop teasing their sibling, do their homework. Those struggles can take all the joy out of parenting.
But it doesn't have to be that way. It's true that we don't actually have control over our kids, who, after all, are fully human and will make their own choices. And it's true that our ideas of what our child "should" do won't always align with our child's ideas. But there are ways to avoid the struggle to begin with, by staying connected, seeing things from your child's perspective and looking for win/win solutions. And even once there are hurt feelings and anger on both sides, even once it feels like you're trapped in resentment, there's a way out. READ POST