Selecting Responses Matter
With kids, one misunderstanding or cold response from a parent can trigger an entire domino effect. Kids lack the ability to always be open or explain whats going on.
- Sometimes they’re scared too
- Sometimes they’re embarrassed
- Sometimes they’re just mad and don’t know how to calm down and talk
And then some parents discipline these behaviours FIRST, before connecting with their children, which causes further out lash from the child. And from there everything snowballs.
Some questions that would be good to ask yourself first would be:
1.) What could be causing this behaviour? If you’re answer is ‘she/he just doesn’t care’, then question that further –
- Why would she/he just not care?
- Do they get enough time with you?
- Do they feel ignored?
- How do they feel about a new husband/sibling/pet/move/school/etc?
- Are they tired?
- Are they hungry?
2.) Ask yourself what you are trying teach them. What lesson are you trying to show them? How would one achieve this? What do you think your current response is showing them?
No child is going to take anything in or listen in the heat of risen emotions either. The only time they would is out of fear and that should never be resorted to, that’s called fear mongering. Whatever your child’s struggles may be, they need to be calm, cool, and collected before discussing them. If things get heated up then you need to break again and come back later.
They also needs to feel heard, and understood. Their emotions need to feel valid, not invalidated.
A few easy terms from “The Whole Brain Child” to remember are:
1. Engage dont enrage
2. Connect then redirect
3. Name it to tame it
4. SIFT: Sensations, Images, Feelings, Thoughts
Some examples are :
1. What are you doing ? That’s interesting, can I join/watch/listen? After a few minutes offer for her/him to take shower and then you guys go do something together.
2. Hey I know you’re really tired right now. I hate when I’m tired too, doing anything feels so hard. You had a really busy day, that must’ve made you feel exhausted. But we should get your room tidied up. A nice organized room will help you think and relax better. (previous example)
3. Is there something bothering you? You look/sound down/frustrated/tired. Hows your body feeling – tense, numb, tired, etc? *get them or help them name the emotion* Lets find a way to feel better. (Walk, music, movie, cleaning, board game, talking, etc)
4. When you’re child is having a hard time, and you’re having a hard time understanding standing why, try using SIFT. Have yourself go first so your child understands what it is and feels comfortable participating. Name sensations you currently feel in your body related to the situation; Like tense shoulders, rapid breathing, crumpled face muscles. Then name images you see in your head in relation; Like visualizing yourself trying to help your child but they won’t let you, or giving your child a hug because they feel down. Then name something you feel; Like frustrated, confused, or happy. Lastly name the thoughts that follow the moment; I wonder if she will talk to me, I wonder if I did something wrong , I feel like tonight isn’t going to go well.
Dr. Dan Siegel, one of the main authors from The Whole Brain child, has even taken the extra steps and made “refrigerator sheets”. And although that sounds pretty lame in our day and age, its quite convenient when all this amazing information is a huge change for us. Personally, I would never put it on my fridge. I prefer any kind of information to be on my phone -somewhere that’s close to me at all times. Get his PDF doc version of the refrigerator sheet on your phone here.
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