While we may wish to protect our children from all situations of danger or stress, in reality they will have to work to have control of their own lives. Anger is a common response to such a situation and can be a frightening and yet inevitable emotion. The important part is knowing how to react when we feel overwhelmed with he emotion of anger. It is easy to go from “zero to sixty” when we get angry. Sometimes we get angry after a hard day, siblings screaming over a game, stepping on a toy left on the floor, etc. As children are incredible imitators, they often emulate the response to stress that they witness. Consequently, we must model appropriate behavior for our children while discussing with them alternatives to losing their temper. We must understand the value of preserving our self-esteem in even the most difficult situations.
Responding to an Angry Child
- stay calm
- don’t give in
- help instill problem solving skills
- time -outs
- praise appropriate behavior
- avoid triggers
While we work to control our own anger, we must help our children understand the value of controlling theirs. Parents are often surprised by how easily their children may become frustrated about minor incidents. Often children learn much about their reactions from their environment. Whether in your home, school, or television, they are sponges that learn how to deal with situations through mirroring. It is important to discuss openly with them what their trigger is and how to deal with difficult situations.
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One way to assist you in communicating to your children is to emphasize their ability to control their own living. When you frame conversations by helping them understand the impact of their choices, children are willing to interact with you. For example, rather than saying, “Sit down and study for that test you have tomorrow,” interact to help them understand the ramifications of not studying: How they may receive a poor grade: How it can create an unfortunate habit for them. Being reminded that they have a choice whether to do their homework or not but should understand the rationale for not doing it and the subsequent ramifications.
- making ultimatums
- making threats
- making assumptions
- name calling
- limiting their power
The language that you use with your children can limit your effectiveness for parenting. Your tone and mannerism also impacts how they “hear” you. Children want to be validated by having their parent hear them and show them respect.
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Any of us can recount stories about bullies from our own experiences in school. While we may not have been a victim, we may have been a bystander or even a perpetrator. We can vividly tell stories about the elementary school student that was targeted because they were not popular or the child that was constantly harassed at recess. There are numerous reasons why students may bully others. This works under the premise that experiencing bullying is not just a “rite of passage” and there are skills you can equip your children with to help them thrive. Parents must remember anyone can be a bully. Bullying in schools is a source of public outrage in media outlets. While your child’s school or school district may have various programs to address bullying and institute peer mediation, positive choice making and social skills to curb bullying, as a parent there are numerous things you can do to equip your child. Here is an inspiring story on athletes stepping up to take a stand
While no one has the right to be bullied, help with the understanding that some children are more susceptible to being a victim then others. Those who are isolated or seek excessive attention by pestering or overcompensating for insecurity may be more likely to be bullied. There is no rationale for bullying being tolerated in schools. However, understanding your children’s tendencies will help you help them navigate through school and provide them with the tools to be successful in their adult life, where bullying doesn’t necessarily end.
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Disciplining is one of the most important facets of parenting. When we reflect on our own experiences with discipline as a child, we should think about how those methods made us feel and whether they are in line with our parenting philosophy. Providing discipline is essential to help groom children into becoming responsible adults. As the adult, you must remain calm and confident, especially when you are frustrated with unacceptable behavior. We must work to maintain both the self-esteem of our children and a healthy relationship with them.
As parents there are countless questions around disciplining that must be resolved within the household. The more proactive that you can be prior to the event, the better the outcome. Will you give an allowance? Will you have “time-outs?” What time will be curfew, and what is the punishment when they inevitably fail to come home on time? All of us grapple with these decisions about discipline and want to do what is best.
There is a lot that fosters positive discipline in the home. Here are some basic ideas to help guide you in setting the stage for positive behavior. There are external and internal forces for parents to consider when thinking about discipline.
External Factors: things you have control over…food (providing healthy snacks), sleep (nighttime sleep is sufficient), routine (having the day mapped out is helpful and knowing what to expect), and environment (keep living space calm, comfortable and organized to foster positive behavior).
Internal Factors: things out of your control…all children have unique personalities and their own temperament that affects interaction with people and events in their world. As a parent you can show support by respecting their thoughts, being honest and listening.
Raising children requires patience. Discipline teaches how to make positive choices. The ultimate goal of discipline is to keep children safe.
One of the frustrations of daily living with children is the little “spats” that arise over every day routines such as getting ready for bed, putting on a coat in cold weather, putting shoes away, putting away bikes, etc. Many times children are given “demands” to do something and the result is balking, procrastination, stamping of feet, and loud words.
A better way, rather than making demands, is to allow the child to choose between two related choices. For example, when it is time for bed, say, “Do you want to wear your doggy PJs or your cat PJs? You decide.” For putting away shoes, you could ask, “Do you want to put your shoes under your bed or in the closet? You choose.” For putting away the bike, say, “Do you want to put your bike on the porch or in the garage? You decide.” Either way the purpose is accomplished.
If the child comes up with a third alternative, listen respectfully. If it is doable, validate that is good thinking. If the alternative is not doable, indicate you have given two choices from which to decide.
By allowing children to make choices, they become empowered and learn they do have some control in their lives.
If you want your child to communicate more openly with you, then let them talk, no matter how shocking. It sounds so simple and yet it is so hard for many parents to accomplish. Just let them talk. Consider these tips on keeping communication lines open with your children:
- Ask your child what they think instead of telling them what you think.
- Avoid interrogating your child.
- Tell stories about yourself growing up.
- Share quality family time.
- Respect your differences – Although you may not always agree with your child’s decisions or views, it is important to understand and appreciate his/her perspective and reasoning.
Many parents aren’t consciously aware that they are their child’s first teacher. Parenting goes beyond just being a role model and provider. Our children have to be taught continually and reinforced that they are worthwhile and loved. We strive for our children to be happy in their choices and feel good about themselves.