Thursday, February 19, 2015

Active listening for angry kids

As adults it may be easy to discount the emotions of children. After all our problems are much larger and more complex than theirs. But to a child, not getting their favourite toy, going to bed early or losing a board game can be devastating. Too often we find ourselves responding to their problems with "adultisms" like,

"When will you ever?
"Don't be silly.
"I keep telling you.
"You know better than
"When will you grow up?
When will you learn?..." And others.

Responding like the above will leave a child feeling sad, confused, frustrated, shamed, or with thoughts of low self worth. This kind of talk can cause an argument or power struggle with you. Sometimes kids don't need to be fixed, rescued, lectured or saved. Sometimes they just need you to listen without judgement. They need to be an active listener.

What is does an active listener sound like?

Active listening may sound like this:

"You sound really angry right now,"
"You look very frustrated that you have to wait."
"Sometimes I'm afraid to go the dentist too.
"Sounds like your feeling left out?
"Are wanting to plan some special time with me today?"

Or a simple, "How can help you right now?"

Guessing at their feelings and thoughts may help direct the child misbehavior to deeper understanding of themselves.
Sometimes they are still too angry to hear your words and a "cool off time" may be needed for them or you or both before you can have this active listening talk.

Like adults children sometimes just need you to listen and understand. This kind of active listening will help your child learn about their feelings and help focus in what is important.

Some cool off ideas:

An angry box - a box they stand on where they are allowed to yell, cry jump or rant.
(Parents can use it too)

A large pillow or bed to scream in

Bop bag or punching clown

Playdough or clay can help release aggression too

Teaching yoga, meditation or just deep breathing exercises

Feeling charts to point to when words fail them.

Books like "hands are not for hurting"

Create an anger wheel when they are feeling good and discuss what options they want for cool off time.

My favourite cool off is a bath. When my oldest was angry he would take a bath and wash off his angry thoughts feelings emotions and see them go down the drain and dry off with a chance to start over in new skin. It worked a lot. Mostly bubbles and toys worked. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cooperation Without Fear

We all want our kids to do it, but do we know the true sense of what it feels like to cooperate? We say we know how to do this as adults, but do we?

To cooperate means to do things together, to build together, to feel together and to have something in common to freely work together. But people don't usually feel inclined to cooperate. People have agenda's, beliefs, morals, ideas, passions and we usually want those around us to share that with us. So it becomes a matter of people trying to force each other wills and desires on each other and we call this cooperation? It's common practice in our world to use cooperation in different ways. Tyrannical governments force people to work together, if you don't cooperate" you are liquidated or sent to a concentration camp. In so called civilized nations you are induced to work together through the concept of "my country." Or companies use the word cooperate to motivate through fear or reward of something withing that company which ignites competitive natures, not cooperation.

So the plan, idea, the authority which induced people to work together is called cooperation, and in it there is always a reward or punishment, behind the meaning. Which means behind cooperation is fear of something given or taken away. You are always working for something, for peace, for Master, for reward or fear. Saying it's cooperation is a falsehood. It is merely putting your force and ideals on another. There is always someone who is supposed to know what the right thing to do is, and therefore you say, "we must cooperate to carry this out." That is not cooperation.

Nor is it cooperation when you and I work towards a common goal because it ends up in us working together for a product or a final decision, not in the working together but for the end result. Also, not cooperation. Behind projects there is always fear of arguments, disagreements, approval and other fears.

Cooperation is entirely different. Children understand cooperation and the do it naturally, flawlessly and without fear. Cooperation is the FUN of being and doing together. Not necessarily doing something for a result or end in mind at all. Children have this feeling of being and doing together. They will cooperate in anything. There is no question of agreement or disagreement, reward or punishment, they just want to be help and be involved. They have a spontaneous, natural spirit of cooperation.

Real cooperation comes, not through merely agreeing to carry out a project together, but in the joy, the feeling of togetherness. If one may use that word, because in that feeling there is no obstinacy of person ideation or personal opinion.

It is important to try to awaken this inner child of cooperation, this feeling of being together and enjoying the moment, the process. Try watching children play, through play they are building and creating universes together without ego, without inhibitions. Let's try to NOT let the 'things to be done' be more important than the 'feeling of being and doing together without thought of punishment and reward. Set yourself free of trying to push your will onto other and enjoy just 'being' with others. Learn from our children.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Misguided behaviour may need positive attention

Many parents think of discipline as punishment. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin word “disciplina,” which means “teaching, learning.” That’s the key to correcting our kids’ behaviors – giving them the tools they need to learn a better behavior.

Parent that go searching for easy quick answers tend to have a hard time implimenting new skills or learning a new way to parent. It takes practice and time. A lot of misguided discipline can be healed with more love and attention. But not the constant I got your back and what you need attention, but quality attention.

Kids need attention, plain and simple. They crave our love. Once they grow from babies to toddlers to preschoolers, they still need our attention. We mustn't get too busy to forget how little they still are. Taking them out the park is not attention. It's not the whole job. You can't go home and say there, I did something for you, now be happy. They need more than that.
Kids will seek out any attention they can get – even negative attention. They’ll push our buttons with negative behaviors because to a kid, even negative attention is better that no attention at all. This doesn't mean you have to be at your child’s side 24-7 – just taking a few minutes a day to spend one-on-one with your child, distraction-free and doing something they want to do, will reap immense rewards in their behavior.
Take 10 minutes out of your day. Twice a day is best. Have a jar full of activities they created that they LOVE to do with you. (Turn off your tv, cell phone, computer etc) Put a timer on even if your worried you'll go over and burn dinner.
Examples of activities for your "1 on 1 Jar of Fun!"
-Read a favourite book or poem
-Act out a poem or play
-Bake something
-Build a fort
-Sing songs
-Pretend play
-Build race track out of blocks
-Play dress up dollies
-Play with magnets/marbles 
-Play cards/board game together
-Take pictures of their toys and animals
-Outdoor games/sports
-Indoor balloon volleyball
-Hide and seek
-Teach them something you love to do
-Garden/plant flowers
-Create a treasure hunt
-Play simon says (copy me, copy you)
-Have a dance session
-Collage or paper art crafting
-Listen to them tell you stories or ask them how they feel about stuff
-Tell jokes (get a joke book)
-Do Busy Bag games (search pinterest)
-Water play outside
-Bathtime and play with toys
-Let them decide what is fun time with you.
When you spend 1 on 1 with your child positively and proactively, your kids will become more cooperative and less likely to seek out attention in negative ways. Life is busy for everyone, and finding extra time in the day may be daunting at first, but think of this as an investment in your relationship with your children and in improving their behavior. When it comes to knowing how to discipline your child, giving them what they need to avoid poor behaviors in the first place can have a great impact.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • First, tell your child, “We are going to have special time together.” Let them know when to expect it. (After you’ve finished a few chores, after school, or dinner, or perhaps at baby siblings nap time etc.)
  • Ask, “What are some things you would like to do for our special time here at home?” Give them some choices if they cannot think of anything. Write them down or get pic's off the internet and put them in a jar. Decorate the jar together!
  • Tell them when you will have the next special time. Buy a timer.
  • Tell them when you are having the special time. “This is my special time with you, {insert child name}.” Say something positive like, “I like doing things with you.”
  • Warn them before the time is up and say… “Soon it is going to be baby’s turn ….or Mommies turn.”
  • Tell them when the next special time will be. Remind them to be thinking about what they would like to do.
  • Later, remind them about the special time you had together, and that another special time is coming.
  • Do not take special time away as punishment for behavior earlier in the day. Being able to count on special time with you provides them support and sense of unconditional love and connection.