It Is Not Personal Part 2
Last week it was discussed how being a parent is one of the hardest jobs there is, especially when your child is constantly telling you they want a new parent and you are the worst parent ever. All children will test their limits so it is important to be consistent with your expectations and following through with what you are telling your child you will be doing if they are pushing your buttons. No matter the age, the child needs to feel safe and secure with their parents and that means making choices that your child will not agree with all the time.
When children are saying “I hate you” or “You are not in charge of me” or being physical over and over again, and you find yourself telling your child “That Makes Me Sad” or “Stop It”. When you hear this it might be a good time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what and why this is happening. Does the child have the language at that moment to express themselves differently? Instead of telling the child “Stop it” I might say “Lets rewind” or “Try again” and give them the language that they need to express themselves such as “I’m mad because_____”. Telling a child to rewind gives an opportunity to teach a different way to communicate even if the tone of the voice is harsh. Remember “Try again” with a smile on your face will de-escalate a situation a lot faster. The child has to start over and practice a new way since some of the behaviors do become automatic.
One thing to remember as you are teaching new ways of doing things, is that when a child is upset all their processing stops. I’ve heard over and over again, “My child can articulate when he is calm but when he is upset I’m not hearing him saying what we have been teaching him”. Well, when the child is upset they are hearing you but not listening to what you are saying. The rewind statement helps to not escalate the situation that is happening at the moment in the house. This also teaches the child a different approach besides the language they are using or their body to get their needs met. If you find yourself fighting with your child when they are in that state of mind you are only going to frustrate yourself since they will not listen to you and no one is learning a new way to communicate.
Another tool that is very helpful is to have an area in your home where the child or the parent can go and take a break. This is ‘Not a Time Out’ but rather an area where the child can have a ‘Break’ so they can learn to self-regulate themselves when they are upset. In this area the child can do things that are calming such as reading, drawing, and/or writing. So instead of arguing, tell the child “When you are calm we can talk” and keep the language short and to the point versus “You are making me sad when you act this way”. This is more effective and will decrease the unnecessary behavior escalation. Last thing to know is that you don’t want to give your child that much power over your feelings since they keep pushing your buttons knowing they will get a reaction out of you.
Have fun REWINDING!
By Vanessa Kahlon, MA
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