Your kid is yelling at you and every thing you try to say just makes things worse.  Before you know it, you are yelling back just as much and the whole situation has dissolved into a horrible horrible day.

 

This situation is quite common although you won’t think it is common because this type of behavior is usually reserved for parents and usually happens in the house. So you might feel like you are in a boat all by yourself, but let me tell you, anger is normal, anger is part of life and you are not alone.  There are several things we can do to help deal with anger: 

 

Food and Sleep

This is true for everyone including adults: when we are hungry or tired, we are more prone to anger.  If you are dealing with more emotions than normal, start working on a better sleep plan and a better eating plan.  These are both big tasks so don’t expect changes overnight but good sleep and full bellies will help a lot with big emotions. 

Make a Plan

When everyone is sitting at the dinner table, talk about a plan for the anger.  What are some strategies? Have everyone go around the table and talk about what helps them feel better when they are angry.  It won’t be the same for everyone so any idea is welcome as long as everyone is safe.  So taking space is a great idea but running away doesn’t feel safe and shouldn’t be considered an option.  

The Brain Can’t Function During the Anger

There is a great podcast called brains on that has an episode about anger and they talk a little bit about the science behind anger and that is part of our evolutionary survival.  They talk about how your brain goes into fight, flight or hide when you are angry.  This means that the brain isn’t in the problem solving part of the brain and can’t listen to mom or dad trying to fix the problem.

So when your brain is in the fight, flight or hide part, don’t try to talk or solve the problem.  Let the feeling run its course and be there to keep everyone safe.

Circle Back

So we all lose it at some point.  Maybe we decided that we were going to take a deep breath when we got angry and that didn’t actually happen.  Maybe your kiddo said that they wanted to take space when they got angry and instead they went and hit something.  It happens.  But circle back after everyone is calm again and talk about it.  Why was it so hard to take a deep breath?  If we feel better when we hit something rather than taking space, maybe we should set up a soft place where we can hit pillows?  Keep the dialogue going and don’t worry that there was a setback.  There will be millions of setbacks.  Debriefing about them afterwards is where the learning happens. 

Anger is a Normal Part of Life

Although it is important to find ways to calm ourselves, we don’t need to punish ourselves or our children for getting angry.  I see this as a common reaction to anger- getting even more upset and then yelling at children for getting angry.  But that doesn’t make any sense.  We all get angry.  Anger is a normal part of life.  

 

It will get better.

Things will improve.  

But it WILL get worse before it gets better.

I was saying this to a couple of parents just about a month ago.  Not about a virus but about behavior and sleeping.  

“Things will improve, but they will get worse first.”

Those were my parenting words but they now they have a new meaning as well.  But we can learn from the parallels.  We can be OK with the getting worse part.  We can breath into the difficulty and know that it won’t last forever.

So if your child isn’t getting good sleep and you know that putting a stricter routine into place is actually going to make the behavior worse. You are correct! But don’t let that stop you!  It will get worse, but then it will get better.

If you know that staying at home and not getting a fun coffee or visiting the park will make the whole pandemic shorter and fewer deaths- then do the hard part now because it will get better and it will get better faster, the more work we put in now.  

Do the hard part now, knowing that it will get better faster, the more work we put in now.

I know this is hard.  Parenting is hard and your children will learn so much from this experience.  They will learn that we sometimes do things for our community and not for ourselves.  And that we take care of each other and that we can do hard things. 

This is your new mantra:

‘We take care of each other.’

This isn’t just for parents with more than one child because parents of only children can benefit from this phrase as well.

Wondering how to keep your kids from hitting each other?

We take care of each other

Wondering how to get your child to help with the dishes?

We take care of each other

Wondering how to have less squabbling?

We take care of each other

So here it is in practice:

It’s morning. Your kids ask what papa is making for breakfast. “Papa’s taking good care of us and making eggs and toast for breakfast”.  As you are getting ready for work and they need your attention you say, “I can’t right now because I’m getting ready for work. I work so that I can take care of you and provide food for all of us.” Your child goes over to pet the cat, “You take such good care of Felix.” Then one child grabs another child’s toy. “Uh oh, did you want a turn with the toy? Let’s take good care of each other and ask for the toy instead of grabbing it. Say, ‘Can I have a turn after you?'”

So on and so forth.

Why would we do this?

Families are units.

Families are important.

Families take care of each other.

If we keep this as a mantra, then the children realize that their siblings aren’t their worst enemies, but rather someone on whom they can rely. 

What you hear becomes your inner voice.  When children hear that they are a valuable part of a unit or a pod, then they feel more secure and become more responsible.

So then this translates into chores and keeping the house nice. 

Children should never be paid for chores (chores and allowance can start at the same time, but one is not dependent on the other). Children do chores for the same reason adults do chores.  To take care of each other.  My husband helps with the laundry so that we all have clean clothes.  He is taking care of us.  I make dinner so that we are all taken care of.  My children bring in a bag of groceries from the car because we all take care of each other. 

What do you do when your child grumbles? “I don’t wanna” or even just “NO!”

Bring it back around to taking care of each other, and say, “I would love to put away the utensils for you and then you can make dinner for me.”  They will end up choosing the easier job (until they don’t!!!) and then you get them to make dinner for you.  I would be lying if I said I never had toast for dinner.  

Because toast is what they made.

As very young children get older, they start to become more independent.  But there are two things working against that independence.

1) They don’t fully understand all the implications of independence, (i.e. responsibility, safety and sometimes independence is scary)


2) We aren’t always ready to give them independence because they are still our babies.


Because of these two obstacles, independence often takes the form of defiance. 


My two-year old (almost three-year old) boys are dabbling in defiance.  I am slowly giving them more independence-

  • They can get in and out of bed by themselves
  • They can wash their hands by themselves
  • They can get dressed by themselves
  • They can prepare some of their food by themselves

But really, they don’t have that much independence yet and as they grow older, they will request more.

How do they do this?

By asserting themselves.


This comes across as being defiant.  But a child who has opportunities throughout the day to be independent will be less defiant.


How does this work?  Well, this goes hand in hand with the “giving-children-more-opportunities-for-risk” post.  


It is hard to allow children to fail, fall, hurt, cry, or fumble but we need to give our children those opportunities and it will help with the defiance we see in young children as well as the defiance we see in teenagers. 


We have scares, and like many parents, we have them often.  But instead of shielding and sheltering my children more, I love feeling the confidence of a child who just learned that it is not OK to play behind a truck.  So that if he ever finds himself in a place behind a truck that is starting, he will get out of there and not wait for someone to come get him.

A child who is acting defiant is a child who needs more independence.

What does this look like and what can parents do?

Let’s say you are getting ready for bed and your child starts acting up.

“NOooo!”

or

“I don’t like those pajamas!”

or however it manifests in your household.

These are all signs of defiance that could be turned into independence.

Your child can take control over what pajamas they want to wear.  They can have control over who brushes their teeth.  And of course they have the independence to choose what book to read.

These are all easy ways to give our children more independence that they are craving.

They are asserting themselves as individuals and we need to give them that opportunity.

Here’s another thought:

If we give children more opportunities to assert their Independence throughout the day, will they ultimately be less defiant?

Try it tomorrow and see what happens.

 

My favorite word is “overwhelmed” and I use it all the time.

I think it does two things:

It really sums up parenthood

It teaches kids about emotions and empathy

I see parents trying to hide their emotions all the time.  I see mom’s apologizing for crying when there is nothing wrong for using tears as an outlet.  And I am overjoyed that moms do cry in front of each other all the time so that they create solidarity and a support system.

Parenting is hard and even though we try to keep up our appearances that it is easy, it doesn’t work and we need to allow our emotions to show so that we can be there to support each other.

If you are overwhelmed, you are allowed to show it.

When my day feels so long and my children are driving me crazy and one more thing happens the throws me over the edge, I say, “I’m really overwhelmed.”  And then I either try to take some deep breaths or I walk away and take some space (usually in my room for just a minute or two).

Kids then learn all about emotions and empathy when moms show their emotions. 

If you can name what you are feeling and even give some ideas on how to deal with it, then so much the better for everyone.  But don’t hide the feeling.  Don’t apologize for it. Just feel it.

You are allowed to cry.  You are allowed to yell.  You are allowed to feel all of the emotions and in fact, everyone benefits from moms showing emotions so let it all out!

 

 

Oh my goodness. If you haven’t seen this book yet, go check it out.

The Little Tree by Loren Long is about a tree that wants to hold on to its leaves.

There are a lot of things that we want to hold on to and it shows up in our bodies in a not great way.

The word that Loren Long uses over and over again is, “tight,”

That’s how it feels.  Your back? tight.  Your neck? tight.  Your body? tight.

We know that it isn’t healthy for us to hold on to this and to create this tension so teaching this idea at a young age is genius. We can show our kids how tight feels and how letting go feels.

When you get to the part where little tree lets go, watch your child.  Watch how things float away.  Watch their body and watch how it melts.

It’s magical.

Get this book and read it.  It will help you as well!

 

It happens, our children are driving us up the wall and to be totally honest, we don’t want to be around them.  We don’t want to hear their voices.  (We don’t really like them) and it feels horrible.

We react differently when we feel this way and we want to get out of this cycle but they are just so annoying.

So practice gratitude around your child.

We know this makes a difference.  In another one of my favorite articles in the New York Times, the author talks about how a bad situation is flipped upside down when he invokes gratitude.  It can work with your kids too.  When you add in gratitude, your whole perspective will change. 

  • So while you are making breakfast, think about one thing that you love about your child.
  • Before you go to bed, write down one thing that you enjoyed about your child during the day
  • Your children may be pain in the necks, but remember what you do have, food on the table, a safe place to sleep, clean clothes to wear.  When we put things into perspective, it is easier to practice gratitude.
  • Volunteer at your local homeless shelter or a group that works with refugees.  When you give, you are also practicing gratitude and if your kids are old enough, have them participate too.

This is real.

When our kids are complete pains, we can really turn things around by practicing daily gratitude.

 

 

 

days-of-lives

This is a quote from Annie Dillard and it really speaks to me on the first day of the new year.


Are our days rushed, stressed and unfulfilled?

Or are we able to breathe and enjoy our days?

The negative moments in our lives are just a moment, but strung together, they are our lives.

There are many days that I still can’t believe that I’m a parent.  I keep thinking that one day I will actually feel like a parent and will know and understand what that feeling is, but it may end up that I’ll be lying on my death bed and finally realize that I was a parent this whole time.  

So what does that mean?

  • It means making conscious decisions about parenting.  
  • It means deciding that we will all eat together at least once per week.  
  • It means that there will be no devices at the table.  
  • It means that I will take a deep breath in front of my children as they are losing it and I’m about to lose it as well.
  • It means that the majority of my interactions with my children will be positive.  So if I find that I have three snippety utterances, then the next nine things I say will have to be positive!
  • It means that I will be clear about my expectations with my children rather than assuming that they know what I am asking of them. 

Because the way that I parent today is the parent that I am.   

Seriously, I still don’t feel like a parent.  What does that truly feel like?

If you want your 2014 to be calmer, your children to listen better, your family to be more connected, contact me today and we will get you started on a parenting plan.  The initial consultation is free

This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved http://boulderchildwhisperer.com

perfect

If you are a parent, chances are that you have looked something up on the internet to see if it is “normal” or if there anything you can do about what ever is happening, or just to commiserate.  

During your journey on the internet, you probably came across something that made you feel guilty.  For some reason, there is a ton of “mompetition” on the internet and I don’t believe it should be that way.

Just today, I was reading some article about parenting and the comments afterwards to each other were very biting and angry.  

There are no perfect kids, and there are no perfect parents and that’s OK.

I wanted to be the perfect parent.  I read all the books, I have a background working with young children and families and I figured, if anyone can do it, I can do it.

One of the philosophies I wanted to follow was attachment parenting because of all the research supporting it, and because it matched my beliefs.

Then I had twins and realized that carrying both of my children into toddlerhood wasn’t going to happen.  And the guilt that I suffered from this was not fun.  I tried carrying one child and putting the other one in the stroller or bouncy chair.  I tried carrying both of them some of the time.  

Then I would give it up for a while due to the exhaustion of trying to carry two babies.  But lo and behold, after a week of not holding them all day, I would read another article online about how children who aren’t carried through infancy will have more emotional problems and the guilt would come down like a ton of baby books on my head.

I struggled with this for my first year of being a mother and one day I realized that it didn’t matter.  My boys were going to be fine.  I’m not the perfect mother and I’m ok with that.  We need to accept where we are as parents and not buy into the guilt that we aren’t good enough.

Parent coaching isn’t out there to make you a perfect parent, because what you are doing is already good enough.  We are just here to support you as you are and keep your head above water. 

Parenting is rough and we need to support each other as much as we can.

most important tool

I have written about this before and I will write about it again.  Not only because it is wonderful, but also because I need reminders.

Breathing is the most important parenting tool.

I read a while back about mediating and parenting and I almost looked it over since I couldn’t medicate before I had kids, much less afterwards.

But this is brilliant.  It is easy.  It is a lifesaver. 

Do this once a day:

Breathe in to the count of seven.  Hold for the count of seven.  Breathe out to the count of seven.
Do this seven times. 

I haven’t been able to hold my breath, but even without that part, I feel a huge difference. 

Soon, I may be able to master even that.

Breathe.

This article is © Copyright – All rights reserved http://boulderchildwhisperer.com