When our emotions hijack our sense of security, we can quickly drop into rigid, obsessive or even unreasonable thoughts and behaviors.
“My 7 year old daughter has told me before, "I'm thinking of a bad word but I know I shouldn't say it." I would respond with. "Well, don't say it." But, last night she wrote to me how she had a "bad head" because she had a "bad thought." Can it be due to her moderate anxiety and her OCD tendencies? How can I help her when she says stuff like that?” - G
How can we respond to our children's scary thoughts and worrying emotions so they don't internalize the negativity? How can we help them learn to reflect and release any unhealthy or persistent thoughts?
What helps kids recover from traumatic events? How can we help them move beyond scary experiences?
"I have a 5 year old son who has become more and more clingy over the past year. He doesn't like to do anything without me and when I go away he becomes really upset. A few weeks ago he got lost on some trails near our house. He was alone for over an hour on the trails, cold, wet, and expecting me to show up any minute. I was the one who found him eventually and we were both pretty scared. Since then, any time I go mountain biking, he becomes really upset and angry. Tonight he sat on the front step and wouldn't budge until I came home. He yells all kinds of mean things at his Dad and says he doesn't know how to take care of him. I've tried talking to my son about it, but I don't know if he really even understands why he's feeling what he's feeling, so how can he express it to me?" - B.
This is a great question! Children can easily be traumatized by events that adults perceive as temporary or non-threatening.
Obviously, this experience of being lost was terrifying for you both, but for your son - it was the last straw.
I see and hear a lot of banter on the internet
It appears there's a lot of sanctimonious judgment of children (and parents) floating around in cyberspace these days, but what I don't see is anyone writing articles for parents on how to not BE an asshole (hence not raise one).
So, I thought I'd jot down a couple of quick tips.
Most parents - after asking me how to stop behavior - ask me, how to stop reacting.
It seems that once folks understand that it is to be expected that children will - cry, whine, resist and push - and they realize it isn't their job to fix anything - they ask, "Well, then how do I stop getting so angry?"
It is the peeling of an onion.
I don't know that we can “stop getting angry” as much as we can shift to a state of responsibly managing our anger and initiating repair when our anger affects our children.
All children test boundaries, right?
However, holding those boundaries without getting angry and being able to compassionately set limits takes an incredible amount of self-awareness and emotional maturity.
Do you feel like you need to brush up on your self-regulation skills?
Children need us to be attentive and available to help them regain their emotional balance.
In the early years, a child's emotional balance can be thrown off needing to be re-set as often as every FIVE minutes.
Just a weeeee bit.
Do your kids talk back? Do you have a tween or teen who has become increasingly sassy or smart-mouthed?
How do we teach lessons without shame or blame and still allow our kids to fully embrace the intensity of their emotions?
I want to share with you a step-by-step path to peace.
Your language, attitude and tone ALL affect your child's ability to meet your expectations. Learning to change the way you speak can take time and practice.
Sometimes, you won't know WHAT to say. It's okay to be silent. Being respectful is more important than saying the "right" thing.
Creating healthy habits around money is something I have as a top priority goal for myself and my child.
However, with my history, I was not aware of just how deeply hidden my beliefs around money were.
I recently joined Kate Northrup's #MoneyLoveChallenge because I wanted to step-up my self-awareness around my financial future.
“Misbehavior” in the classroom is a hot topic.
I remember when my daughter started first grade, and I wondered how we would cope with the newly punitive environment.
How would she handle it? Would it be stressful for her?
It seems silly to worry, right? After all, we all made it through school unscathed.
Parents ask me ALL the time - how do I stop my child's tantrums and end the meltdowns?If you've ever heard yourself saying things like:
There is no reason to get upset.
It's not that big of a deal!
- then you've probably been overwhelmed by the intensity of your child's emotions.
As hard as they can be to tolerate, those meltdowns are a critical part of our survival, and a building block to better behavior and a healthy emotional intelligence.
If you struggle to set boundaries with your kids without getting angry or using force, I want to help you understand why, and empower you to take your life in a NEW direction.
If I could give you just ONE thing, it would be on-going support to help you understand your child's behavior and re-frame it through a non-judgmental lens.
When you understand behavior, yours and the behavior of those around you, you can bring the JOY back into your life.
Every morning I wake up with the intention to start my day with some kind of mindfulness practice. Whether it is a meditation, or some gentle stretches, I have learned the importance of not denying myself this time to quiet my mind and body.
Without fail, if I ignore my self-care, my conscious responses are diminished and my reactionary behavior gets kicked into high-gear.
But what makes or breaks a day? What motivates us to begin the day with self-care?
What was your childhood like?
Do you remember feeling loved and happy?
Or was it a time filled with fear and loneliness?
Maybe it was a combination of both. What I struggled with most growing up was not knowing how to deal with feelings of unworthiness and being ostracized. I did not trust anyone enough to share those feelings.
The most devastating experience for me as a child was being rejected - whether by peers or parents.
How do we ensure that our children have the skills to master their emotions and take charge of their lives?
Have you noticed that it is during our most taxing and tumultuous times that our kids show us just how tolerant we really are?
Do you feel like you are always begging, pleading or insisting? Has your day-to-day lost all sense of play and lightheartedness that should accompany life?
If you were to ask my daughter, "What is one habit your mom should work on stopping?" she'd probably tell you, "She shouldn't be mean or yell so much."
Kids are listening, making meaning out of memories. What messages about the world and life are they receiving?
My old beliefs influenced the way I responded to everything in my life - fear, threat and change. It wasn't always pretty.
Do your kids nag, complain, or whine about rules and limits they KNOW are unchanging?
Do they attempt to negotiate or outright beg for more TV, candy, toys or playtime despite repeated warnings that the issue is "not up for discussion?"
Do you interpret these behaviors to mean that your kids aren't "listening" to you, and feel you have to set firmer limits but don't know how?
I've got a solution for you.
She took my headband.
He touched my painting.
She touched my iPod.
He won't stop bothering us.
She won't stop hitting us.
Those boys spit on us.
Those are just a few of the "tattletales" I've recently heard from my daughter.
Tattling is developmentally typical in young children. They are still piecing together how the world works. Like any behavior, it represents a need, and kids learn how to meet their needs through our reactions and interactions.