Posts Tagged ‘disrespectful children’

PostHeaderIcon Self-control or Self-regulation: What’s the difference?

Self-control or Self-regulation: What’s the Difference?

My fellow parent coach, Becky Fischer, just shared a powerful resource with me about Self-regulation, and I thought it would be a great topic for parents. Stuart Shanker has a new program called “Self-reg,” if you want more info.

Two types of self-regulation and self-control come into play – parents’ and children’s.  We could all, even as adults, be struggling with self-regulation and mistaking it for self-control.

Self-regulation issues come from the body’s sensitivities.  If our bodies are wired to overreact to input (compared to typical responses), then we are in the realm of self-regulation.  This comes from brain wiring, where some of us, and some of our children, are simply more responsive to input to one or more of the five senses than are other people.  The sensitivity can be to light, sound, touch, taste, or smell. It can also be to other people, which is a sixth sensitivity I’ve identified in children. We and our kids are not making a choice to react in big ways to the things that trigger us. The reactions are built in to our wiring, just as “knee-jerk” reactions are unavoidable in the doctor’s office when she uses a little hammer to check for reflexes.

Another source of these knee-jerk reactions is trauma. If we experienced trauma as children, or even in adulthood, the reactions remain, unless we’ve sought help to relieve them.  The brain’s amygdala and hormonal responses (flight, fight, flee) are constantly alert to threats to our survival, left over from actual previous threats, and they don’t give up easily, even when we’re not in danger. This is why we over-react to some events that others would not. It’s never our “fault” and therapists who specialize in trauma can definitely offer techniques that help to relieve its effects. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is quite effective for this, as are some somatic (body) techniques.  Just search EMDR and your zip code online to find practitioners in your area.

If our children have experienced trauma, often trauma that we or they don’t remember (it can even happen in utero) they will over-react to us in ways that we can easily interpret as disrespect.  This is where parent coaching and occupational therapy can be highly effective.  Parent coaching can help you identify the over-reactions as out of the child’s control.  Occupational therapy and EMDR for kids can help the child self-regulate.

Co-regulation is another wonderful tool for helping parents and kids. With small children, holding the child in a loving way and deep breathing together works like magic, if the child is able to do it. Preparing in advance will be the ticket here – rehearse co-regulation when there’s no issue, just so it’s familiar and safe-feeling to the child. Co-regulation has the effect of calming you both down. With older children, advanced rehearsal and deep breathing together can also bring about the calming effect. Take a breath in, hold for a count of four, let it out naturally. Do this slowly, as rushing can cause light-headedness.

We know that self-control is a learned response that occurs with maturity and guidance from parents. It comes over time, and requires help from adults. When we as adults are regulated, our job is much easier, which is why it’s a great idea to seek help if we have triggers that could interfere with our effective parenting.

The good news is that the effects of trauma and sensitivities can be relieved by learning ways to decrease them through occupational and mental health therapy. This can have an incredibly positive effect our daily interactions with our loved ones!

For more information on parent coaching, click here.

 

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Three Common Mistakes Parents of Intense Children Make

Three Common Mistakes Parents of Intense Children Make

father-yellingWe’ve all been there.  Our kids do something that seems defiant and we immediately match their intensity with our own.  We believe in our heart of hearts that when a child misbehaves, we must get stronger in our approach to their behavior in order to correct it.  Here are the three things we do that only result in increased intensity.

1. We yell when our children act up.  We say, “I said ‘stop it’ and I mean ‘Stop’.  Now.”  We let them know they are wrong, they made a bad choice, and they need to understand their errors in order to prevent this from ever happening again.

2. We use our bodies to communicate how upset we are.  We stand tall over the kids, or we get in their faces to be sure they hear us.  Our fingers wag, our brows furrow, and our shoulders tense up.

3. We convince ourselves that if we don’t correct the behaviors, they won’t get corrected, so we POUNCE on them and expect immediate compliance.

Are there ways to avoid these three common mistakes? Yes.

1. Yelling at kids only has effects we don’t want.  It causes them to feel the need to defend themselves, and it also communicates unsafe conditions.  Intense children have bigger-than-average responses to unsafe conditions, so you may want to consider never yelling again. (I’ve had parents try this, with remarkable results.)

2. Our bodies are like giants to our kids, even if they are pretty big and we’re not.  A parent’s stature is more about being their PARENT than about size.  When we use our bodies in a threatening way, we cause them to look at us with fear, and fearful kids act defiantly.  The preferable way to approach an upset or out-of-control child is “low and slow.”  Sit down, speak in a soft tone, and communicate calm.  Yes, that’s hard when you’re steamed about the behavior, but I can guarantee you a better result in the long run.  If you don’t like escalation, approach your child with calm.

3. Many parents take on a “manager” role.  Demands come so fast and furiously that they just don’t have time to wait for children to comply.  The pressure builds to the point that the manager in them goes ballistic, because there are 14 balls in the air at once, and they feel they can’t let one of them drop.

Here’s a bit of reality for you: kid time is slower than adult time.  If you want things done by 8:30, start much earlier than 8:25.  Yes, adults could get it done in 5 minutes, but kids are not adults.  Start at 8:00 and allow for some side-winding.  It’s in the nature of children to be less organized in their motions that adults, but that’s OK.  If you accept it, and encourage the true nature of the child, you’ll actually get to 8:30 much more calmly with a lot more done.  Remind yourself you are managing small people.  You’ll be a lot happier with your expectations aligned with their nature rather than trying to fit them into adult molds.

One more thing: trusting children to learn and grow in their abilities is a much more peaceful approach than expecting the worst all the time.  Notice how well she’s taken responsibility for her toys, or he’s being gentler with his little brother.  Sometimes kids are making strides right in front of us, but we fail to notice.  If we do notice, we reinforce the growth, and can just sit back and marvel at the natural development of the human being known as “my child.”

If you need help with implementing these ideas, don’t hesitate to call 651-453-0123 or visit www.parentingmojo.com/parent-coaching for all the details.

 

 

PostHeaderIcon Saying No to One Thing Means Saying Yes to Another

Saying No to One Thing Means Saying Yes to Another

As we Minnesotans watch an April snowstorm blanket the landscape with eight new inches of “pretty stuff”, it’s hard to accept “no” from Mother Nature when we yearn for Spring RIGHT NOW.  We desperately want warm sun on our faces, robins and daffodils, not boots, gloves, and snow shovels!

Isn’t it interesting to note how as adults, we have experiences that thwart our desires, just the way our kids do?  Last night, my son texted me an interesting thought to ponder.  “When we say no to something, we’re saying yes to something else.”  Then he typed, in his adorably thought-provoking way, “Opposition.”

When our children are oppositional, they are saying “no” to one thing, such as “brush your teeth”, “get off the computer”, “time for bed”, or “finish your homework.” What’s the thing they are saying “yes” to at that moment?  Of course, you might answer, more freedom to play video games, more freedom to stay up late, more freedom to watch a movie instead of finish homework.  But there’s more to it than that.

When children oppose their parents, they’re also saying “yes” to their own sense of who they are.  As young as 12 months, they’re wired to start opposing their parents’ requests because they are exercising their newfound will.  Is this a disrespectful aspect to all children?  Some may argue yes.  But it’s really more helpful and less conflict producing to see it as a natural developmental phase.  As adults, this is our job and we even benefit from celebrating that our kids with big wills are on the right path. We do better to support their will, rather than try to fight it.

So, you might say to me, “How do we get the bath taken in time for bed, when all they want to do is play?”  The answer lies in recognizing the emerging will as a vital part of the child’s growth as a person.  Acknowledging how much they want to continue to watch their favorite show, play their favorite video game, or finish up their art project, will go a long way toward gaining cooperation.  Say, “You’re really into this game, I can see! I notice that you’re gaining a lot of new skills by playing it. Finish this one game and I’ll meet you in your room, ready for bed in 10 minutes.”

This approach acknowledges the child’s will to play the game and also encourages, rather than forces, the letting go.  (We all know how well it turns out when we try to force a child to do something.)

Here are the 5 steps:
1. Establish a routine bedtime with your children’s input during a family meeting.
2. Tell your child exactly how you will let him or her know it’s bedtime.  Have him sit in front of the computer and rehearse this aspect.  Place your hand on his back if he can tolerate it, and say in a respectful tone, “See what time it is? I’ll meet you in your room in 10 minutes.”  That’s all.  He knows when bedtime is.
3.  Just wait respectfully for him to comply.  If it takes longer than you thought, rehearse again tomorrow, but don’t lecture now.
4. Give heartfelt appreciation for coming when he does.  Even if it’s a few minutes late, you want to let him know he’s been successful in coming to the room.  Reward what you want, and you will see more of it.
5. Have a peaceful, appreciative end to the day.

If you need coaching help with these steps, or any other parenting challenge, click here.

PostHeaderIcon What Your Child Can’t Tell You

What Your Child Can’t Tell You

Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal, Parent Coach and Parenting Speaker
 
You have probably heard the phrase, “All behavior is communication.” The more I think about this, the more I see that it is a crucial thought for raising children. I want everyone to emblazon this idea where they will see it every day. Children misbehave because they lack the communication skills and insight to tell us what’s really happening. It’s our job to look beyond the behavior to the root feelings.
When a child whines, it is not because she likes the sound of whining. It’s because she lacks the maturity and experience to say, “Mom, Dad, I am frustrated right now because you are asking me to hurry for school, but I am a kid and I’m just slower.” Instead, she’ll exhibit all kinds of unwanted behaviors: whining, delaying, arguing, and even getting physically aggressive.
When a grade-schooler refuses to do his homework, it’s not likely that he is simply lazy. His behavior is communicating that he is discouraged in some way. Our first impulse as parents is to make him seethat he needs to get the work done so he can be successful. We remind, cajole, threaten, and eventually explode. Our first impulse would be much more helpful if instead, it was to determine what to do about the discouragement.
When a teenager doesn’t listen to our advice, it’s not because he is just being a jerk. His behavior is communicating that he is in a new phase of development. He needs to make his own decisions, and we are inadvertently calling him incompetent whenever we advise him. He takes it as an insult every time we make a suggestion. He can’t say, “Mom, Dad, I appreciate that you care about me, and that you are more wise than I am. But I need to make these decisions myself because I am becoming a young adult, and that’s what young adults do. Please bear with me as I struggle and even fail sometimes.” So he leaves the house in a huff, giving the door an extra hard slam for emphasis. We would be much better off if our first impulse was to support him in his decision-making, rather than tell him what to do.

It’s essentially a short-cut. If you want cooperative behavior from your kids, take the short-cut by training your mind to see what’s beneath the communication. Practice seeing your child’s innocence first, and working to understand what lies beneath the foul language, the time spent with the door locked, and the “interesting” style of dress. You will find a vulnerable, changing child who simply doesn’t have insight yet. That’s our job as adults … to gain the insight and act accordingly.

Rather than exhibit anger over disrespectful behavior, acknowledge there’s an emotion that the child cannot express directly lying just under the surface. Kids get hurt a lot easier than most adults realize, so they are compelled to protect their tender hearts by lashing out. If we don’t give them cause to protect themselves (by seeing what’s really going on) they won’t have to be so defensive.

So the next time you see a child “acting out”, ask yourself what’s being communicated. It will be an emotion that the child is too young or too immature to express directly, such as hurt, frustration, disappointment, hopelessness, or something else you can help to identify. Then address the child in those terms, rather than with your own irritation. Say, “You seem upset. Want to tell me what’s up?” or “How about you take some time in your own room until you feel better and we can talk?” or “I remember being your age and feeling that same way. Sit down, and let’s try to make this better together.” You are getting to the root emotion, rather than placing judgment on the child’s behavior. Congratulations! You are on the short-cut to better communication and better behavior with your child.

Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal

PostHeaderIcon Disrespectful Children – How to Handle Them

Disrespectful Children – How to Handle Them

I have had so many calls from parents lately who say they have disrespectful children.  If you know my style, you expect me to say, “What’s behind the disrespect?” because if we only see the behavior from the adult point of view, we won’t get anywhere with changing it.

Here’s what I mean:

From the ADULT POINT OF VIEW: “This child is sassy, won’t listen, ignores me, won’t comply, talks back, refuses to do what’s needed, and is a royal pain.”

From the much more useful CHILD POINT OF VIEW: “I am frustrated and I don’t know what to do with my anger.  I have to fight everything my parents say to me because it’s the only thing I can do to make sure they see me. I just want them to SEE ME.  I yell louder, and they still just give me orders. I ignore them, and they still just say what I do wrong.  And they call me disrespectful, say I am lazy, and complain to my relatives, all of which makes me want to fight more. So I fight more, because they don’t see the real me.

I am much smarter than they give me credit for being.  They repeat the things they want me to do like I’m a two-year-old and I don’t understand what they want.  I totally understand what they want, but when they keep saying it, I feel insulted and annoyed.  Can’t they see I’m a good kid, but I am fighting because they are saying things I already know?  Don’t they see me?

Who wants to do what people say when all day long, it’s, “Come here.  Pick up your things.  Do your homework.   Get off the computer. Go to bed.  Can’t you listen?”  I feel like a failure all the time, which never makes me feel like doing what they want.

I wish my parents could figure out how to talk nicer to me.  I wish there was someone who could tell them what to say that makes me want to do what they want.  It would sure be more peaceful around here.  I’m not a bad kid, but I need to be talked to like they see me.”

Luckily there is a person who can help parents see what’s inside, from the child point of view, sort of like a child whisperer.  You can learn how to talk to kids in a way that shows respect and gets rid of their disrespect.  Call me at 651-453-0123 for a coaching appointment today if you want respectful, peaceful interactions with your child.

Looking forward to hearing from you!  Learn more about parent coaching here.

Copyright 2010 Tina Feigal

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