This is a GREAT chapter called, “Stopping the Tantrums.” Teaching children how to recognize their emotions and take actions to soothe and calm themselves is really, really important. It takes years to practice this, because many of us are still working on this as adults (and yet we expect our children to control themselves like adults!)
Think of the way we respond to children. The scenario author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka gives on page 74 is that of a child coming home from school where every.single.thing has gone wrong. The child comes home and falls apart. Did this ever happen to you as a child? Were you heard? Or did you hear:
- Go sit in your room
- It’s no big deal
- Or did you hear nothing? Child problems were ignored because somehow they weren’t as valid as adult problems.
- Did your parents hug you? And did you want to be hugged or touched at that time?
- Did they get in your face and match your intensity?
The author describes pulling out a big bag of fluffy white cotton balls and having parents imagine themselves soothing and diffusing those strong emotions with our children. What would that look like? What would the words be? How would we want to be treated? Teaching children to soothe and calm themselves begins with US. We can choose to soothe and calm, and our children will learn to do the same.
A child’s emotions can be completely hijacked by their fight or flight system. The author describes on page 77, “Does Your Child Need To Escalate To Be Heard?” on page 77, a common scenario. She writes, “The more you know about your child’s day and life, the easier it is to pick up the more subtle cues.” It all begins with connection.
If we are stressed, our children are stressed too. When we are stressed, things that don’t normally bother us do bother us, and we either don’t pick up on other’s cues as well (the author calls this “neural static”) or we overract.
Several of the strategies to help bring down intensity:
- Get down on eye level. Listen. You are not getting in your child’s face to yell at them, you are getting on their level to listen to them.
- Allow enough time for transitions, because this allows time to monitor emotions and then you have time to help manage the emotions.
- Physcial activity – kids and adults NEED it. A twenty minute physical break can be really important.
- Space -sometimes the best thing we can teach our children is to say, “I need space.”
- Deep breathing
- Sensory Activities
Parents wonder if this isn’t SPOILING the child. The point is this is the first step, not the only step. Have a plan for soothing for all ages, and teach teens to exercise DAILY (see more about that on page 86). If you do all of this, and your child still just rages, it’s time to call in a professional. They can teach your child the best strategies, and it’s easier to do it sooner rather than later.
We are here to be the alley of our child. Let’s make a plan.
Blessings and love,