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.  

 

These three words are a great tool to use if you have a four year old or older.

What’s the plan?

When you use these three words, you are opening up a dialogue with your child and moving towards better understanding of their behavior.   This also helps with teaching empathy as well as problem solving skills.  So think of this tip as a winner!!

Often we are thinking or expecting the worst with our children.  We see them pick up a rock and our first thought is that they are going to throw it at a person or an animal or they will break something with it.

We might not be wrong.  They might have that idea in their head. BUT they might be thinking that they are going to build a rock tower with it.  Or they might be bringing it to a bug to build them a home.  We don’t know.

So when they pick up a rock, instead of saying, “PUT that rock DOWN!” we say, “What’s your plan?”

If it were indeed nefarious, they might smile at your and then slowly put the rock down on the ground without needing any more discussion, but if they had another plan in mind, then they might say, “gonna build house” and you can marvel at your young architect.

This works for anything. 

If you child starts to grab something that maybe they shouldn’t be grabbing, “What’s your plan?”  If your child picks up a gigantic stick, “What’s your plan?”

This teaches empathy, because you are putting yourself in your kids shoes which is a great model for them to then be able to be empathetic.  You are wondering what they are wondering.  Can this branch touch the sky?  Will it be long enough to go across the river?  

This also teaches problem solving because nine times out of ten, their plan was to try to fix things (usually in the worst way possible, but they don’t know that yet) and you can be there to facilitate the problem solving.

You can see into their creativity and gain insight into their thoughts.  What we assumed was bad behavior is actually brilliant thinking!  We become closer to our children and they don’t get into trouble and everyone is much happier. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that our children always have a plan in mind that is helpful, problem solving or creative, it honestly could be that their plan was to harm something or to make things worse but we don’t know until we ask.  And once we find out their intent, we can move forward with so much more knowledge than we had before. 

So the next time your child goes into the kitchen and grabs a dangerous tool, or picks up something they shouldn’t have, or starts doing something suspicious looking, ask

“What’s your plan?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disappointment and failure are two things that you want your child to avoid at all costs as they are growing up.

Just kidding!

We all know that having a perfect rosy life isn’t possible and probably isn’t the ideal either and yet we try to provide that for our children; to their detriment.

Let’s start with disappointment.

As soon as your children turn two years old (or often just a couple of months before they turn that amazing age) they start to experience disappointment.  They are disappointed that they didn’t get to turn on the light.  They are disappointed that they didn’t get the red cup.  They are disappointed that they can’t eat the chocolate muffin for dinner.   As soon as they fuss and cry to show their disappointment, we want to relieve that discomfort of being disappointed and we give them the chance to turn on the light, we get them the red cup, we get them a muffin and then we become the saviors of the day!  Hooray! Disappointment averted!

However, disappointment is the best and healthiest experience for a young child.

Disappointment teaches resiliency, it teaches them about life, it helps them become an adult.

My husband works with young adults and he often talks to me about how parents can shape children to become functional adults.  He is currently reading Ownership Thinking: How the End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose and Profit.  Apparently this is a hot topic in all business as one google search of “Creating Ownership” will give you pages and pages of how to reduce entitlement.  The book talks about how employers should not “rescue” their employees just as a parent shouldn’t “rescue” their children.  

We have the option of creating the next generation of adults who aren’t entitled and who feel empowered.

How do we do that?  Allow our children to experience disappointment and failure.

Failures

Failures are different from disappointment as disappointment is the external world not going your way and failure is when your own actions/ choices/ attempts don’t work as you would have hoped.  As your children grow, they will start to have little failures and then bigger failures.

It might start with a lego set that breaks. Or maybe it is a lunch that was forgotten.  It might then be a bad grade or forgetting to do homework until the night before.  These are all little failures that are important for your child to experience.  These are tears that need to fall.

You can be there for your child to give them a hug and, but you can’t fix the failure.  Failures are how children learn and grow.  Failures are how children become adults.

So don’t avoid these two parts of your children’s lives.  Raise your children to become adults!