I see you, mama. You want to be calm and connected with your child. You want to be able to respond to your child’s struggles in a respectful way. You want to be able to give your child whatever they need in a moment of distress. The problem is, you don’t just have one child.Continue reading “7 Practical Ways to Use Positive Parenting with Multiple Children”
“I’m angry, I need to go take a break”
Words I never thought I’d hear my 4-year-old say in the heat of frustration, as he walks himself over to the break area to calm down.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t how he handles every frustration (actually not even close), but the fact that this happened means that he is ON HIS WAY to learning how to manage his emotions without aggression or outbursts.
Isn’t that what every parent wants? For our kids to know how to calm themselves down when they get upset? For them to be able to stop, breathe, and think before acting on their emotions? Of course it is! But how do we help our kids to get there?
No parent WANTS to yell at their kids. That look in your child’s eyes right after you’ve yelled at them feels terrible, I know. I’ve been there too. But there ARE ways to break the cycle and to find a new pattern of behavior, both for you and for your child.
The fact is that every parent at some point or another ends up losing it and yelling at their kids. Every parent has a breaking point. Some parents reach their breaking point after weeks of built-up exhaustion and fatigue, while other parent reach their breaking point nearly every single day.
One of the most frustrating aspects of parenting is figuring out how to get your child to listen the *first time* you ask them to do something. Nothing is more irritating that feeling like you need to repeat yourself, yell, or resort to punishment over simple requests. If you are struggling with little kids who don’t listen the first time, stick with me for the one simple strategy that actually works.
But first, here’s why it doesn’t work to repeat yourself in the first place:
Ahh, toddlers. You’ve got to love them. Toddlerhood is actually my favorite age of childhood, because it’s a time of such huge growth. One of the most notable changes happening during this phase is child’s desire to be independent… the child’s desire to do things their way.
Wanting to do everything their way, along with other major cognitive and social gains creates the perfect storm for negative behaviors (like screaming, hitting, biting, saying “no”) to rear their ugly head.
If you asked me a year ago what word best described my parenting, it might have been “rigid.” Being a preschool teacher for so many years had made me a little too good at setting limits and following through. It got to the point where every day with my 3-year-old son was a repeat cycle of tears and unnecessary power struggles. I found myself thinking that I couldn’t let go of one single thing because then, “He’d win.”
But one day it hit me… at what point did he and I stop being on the same team? At what point did I start controlling him instead of guiding him? Of course I should want him to “win.” I want him to win at solving problems. To win at loving others unconditionally. Most importantly, to win in our relationship.
Fast forward to now, and I’m viewing defiance and misbehavior in a whole new light.
My 3-year-old is eating peanut butter toast with banana for breakfast (his request), and we are officially running late for preschool. We need to get in the car soon if we want to miss the morning traffic, but he has decided that he no longer wants the food that he begged for 2 minutes earlier. What started off as a relatively calm breakfast has turned into a battle of wills over him taking a few more bites of food.
“You’re going to be hungry” I say, realizing immediately that he could care less. I can feel my frustration rising and even though I’m trying to stay calm, I’m getting snappy and irritable. In hindsight I can see so many opportunities that fell through the cracks to salvage this morning, but in the moment… there was nothing. Nothing I could do to stay calm, nothing I could do to get this tiny human to eat his food. Tantrums all around.
I started learning about positive parenting long before I was actually a parent. When I was getting my MA in early childhood education, everything that I was studying about child development and how children grow up to be well-adjusted and emotionally intelligent… all pointed back to positive parenting.
So once I had my own children, it made perfect sense for me to start putting some of those principles into action. Once I dove in, the first thing I realized is that there is a TON of information out there. Too much information. It’s overwhelming and honestly hard to know where to start.
To help save you time on your journey towards becoming a more positive parent, I’ve compiled this list of 6 core positive parenting principles to live by. Consider this your “starter’s guide,” the “beginner’s manual” to positive parenting. Let’s dive in!
Think back to the last tantrum your child had. What do you remember about it? There’s a pretty good chance that you can’t remember what it was about, but I bet you remember “that feeling.”
You know what I’m talking about… the sick feeling in the pit of your stomach and the heat rising in your neck and cheeks. The feeling that is a cross between desperately wanting to help your child work through the pain they are experiencing, while also being so incredibly frustrated that you just want to start screaming yourself.
It is so difficult to remain calm when our children are having a meltdown. The most important thing to remember about tantrums are that they are a completely normal part of childhood.
Spanking is a major hot-button topic these days. Technically, spanking is legal in all 50 states as long as it’s “reasonable discipline” and does not cause the child injury. Some people come from the mindset of “I was spanked as a child, and I turned out okay,” while others feel it borders on child abuse.
Aside from a couple of swats for truly atrocious behavior, I was not spanked as a child. Generally speaking, my parents opted for taking away privileges or adding chores when I misbehaved. There was a time (before I really started studying child development) that I wanted to believe that spanking was no big deal. It’s what generations upon generations of parents did. It couldn’t be as damaging as so many people made it out to be.
But after I started really looking at the research and learning more about how children’s brains develop in those early years, I have taken a much firmer stance on this issue. Here are some of the unexpected ways that spanking affects the development of young children: