March Madness

If your family is anything like mine the long winter months, cold temperatures, snow and ice become harder to deal with on a regular basis. Tempers get short, energy gets low, and you feel like you need a vacation from everyone. The feelings of being cooped up and on edge get worse for me when I can’t send my kids outside because everything is wet and muddy.

I hope you can relate to the above pictures. I certainly know that I can. Dan Siegel and Tina Bryson, authors of No-Drama Discipline (2014) share that when we react to our children we shift into autopilot parenting and end up giving more control of the situation. So, when your kid(s) are on your nerves, what can you do?

Let’s start by asking three simple questions:

  1. Why did my child act this way?

Many of our younger children also do not know the capacity to regulate their emotions and control their impulses.

  1. What lesson do I want to teach in this moment?

Probably something along the lines of appropriate ways to express their feelings.

  1. How can I best teach this lesson?

Connect with him by pulling him to you and letting him know he has your full attention. Acknowledge his feelings and model how to communicate those emotions. Once you have his attention, you can now talk with him and, as he calms down, you are able to explain that hitting (or any other negative behavior) is never all right, and talk about some alternatives he could choose – like using his words to express his frustration – the next time he wants your attention.

These three questions help us to better understand why our children act out. But what if we could prevent these meltdowns? The same reasons that adults get frustrated work for kids: hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. The more you can watch for the beginnings of negative behaviors and head them off by connecting, validating, listening, and reflecting with your children, the less you’ll end up having to pick up the literal or figurative pieces. Leading you and your children to have more time simply to enjoy each other.

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