Today’s post is connected to our 12-Day Challenge to Stop Yelling.
Obviously, it’s no secret that many parents resort to yelling because they believe their child is behaving inappropriately. If your child is behaving inappropriately, your child is communicating to you they are having a problem.
Remember, “All behavior is communication.” Your child is making choices throughout her day. Some moments she is making good, acceptable choices and in other moments she is making unacceptable choices.
Most of you in the Noble Mother community may relate to the idea of “sliding.” Some days you feel like a patient saint and you live up to your own expectations of being gentle and reasonable and you handle your child’s daily positive and poor choices with ease and confidence.
Other days you feel like everything your child does is wrong and inappropriate and you can’t help but lash out in anger and frustration through yelling, threats, and even a swat. You feel like a terrible parent on those days and feel like you’re failing yourself and your children.
Listen, everyone has had those days! You’re not alone. Your desire to parent effectively and consistently is evidence that you are a parent who is absolutely capable of making different choices on those particularly challenging days.
Recognize that you have a positive or negative choice to make when your child makes a poor choice.
When children do not feel heard they will often become louder and even more dramatic. This is why if you choose to yell at your child, it can only make things worse. Just as you are losing control and slipping into your emotional brain, they are doing the same. Once a human being is in their emotional brain, they are capable of doing and saying things they don’t want to do or say.
If you’re reacting, you’re not helping.
The first thing to do when your child’s behavior shocks or disappoints you is to immediately ask yourself these questions:
“What is her behavior trying to tell me? What is she trying to tell me that she can’t?”
There’s something that your child is feeling or thinking that is literally preventing her from behaving well. Now, the reason your child is misbehaving, or making a poor choice, could be based in a developmental stage or a temperament characteristic that you are not understanding. The reason could be emotional, physical, or neurological.
Unless your child is trying to get your attention, she may not be misbehaving on purpose. Many times children make a poor choice because they just haven’t had enough experience in the situation to choose wisely. Let’s remember that parents often have unreasonable expectations of young children.
Parents expect positive behavior from young children in the following situations, for example:
-Shopping at a mall or store, sometimes during a meal, nap, or bedtime
-Knowing how to share or take turns with other children
-Knowing how to appropriately respond when another child behaves oddly (e.g. takes their toy or hits them)
-Playing a game with rules
-Any evening event that goes past their bedtime
-When a parent reinforces a limit (e.g. cookies after dinner, story after bath, seat belt buckled, sit down to eat, etc)
Most young children will display negative behavior in the above circumstances.
Respond Effectively When Your Child Chooses Poorly:
1. Make a conscious effort to maintain self-control so that you can stay in your thinking brain which will allow you to remain calm and it will influence your child to be too. Decide that you will only use your mouth for deep breathing!
2. Does your child’s poor choice call for a natural consequence – the idea that your child would learn from her mistake if you simply allowed the consequences to occur?
For example, your 4 year old leaves her shoes outside and her natural consequence – she has to wear a different, less preferred pair the next day because she can’t find her favorites.
3. Does your child’s poor choice call for an imposed consequence – the idea that your child has behaved outside of your pre-established limits or boundaries? This can be very difficult for parents because they do not like that their child may experience a negative emotion as a result of the consequence. For example, your 5 and 3 year old are squabbling over toys and your 3 year old resorts to biting her older brother when she’s frustrated while your 5 year old hits. Both children are miserable and you are ready to lose it.
Since you’ve already established with your kids that biting and hitting are not allowed, you enforce the consequence that each child will play separately or you will remove the toy causing the friction. In this specific scenario, you also realize that they are two young to play unsupervised and that you will have to create play areas that are closer to you until you see that they understand how to take turns, share, and otherwise negotiate better.
Life is about making choices. “To be powerful learning opportunities, children must be allowed to feel the consequences of their choices” (Becky Bailey, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline). Knowing how to immediately respond well, may help you make a better choice too.
Let me know how things are going, mama.