Posts Tagged ‘mindful parenting’

PostHeaderIcon When Child Behavior is Scary

When Child Behavior is Scary

scary-girlWe have all had those moments when child behavior has frightened us as parents.  They sometimes have no impulse control and give us heart attacks with their unexpected aggression toward their siblings.  Or they may jump off a way-too-high surface, and cause us to react with loud warnings.  They may drive the car too far from home, or have a close call on the freeway, leading us to wonder where we went wrong.

On this Halloween, let’s acknowledge that being a parent can be scary for us at times.  When my son was able to go into the world on a large scale, I found myself saying, “Don’t tell me when you’re about to climb that 17,000-foot mountain.  Just tell me when you’re back down.” I felt like I had to protect my heart from his adventurousness.

Being afraid as a parent is normal. The world is so full of opportunities for our kids to “mess up” as my 4-year-old grandson says.  Life is full of mistakes, and if we keep perspective, mistakes are seen as great teachers.  Sometimes, yes, mistakes can have horrible outcomes, but if we stay focused there, we live a life of fear and anxiety.  For some children, this fear gets absorbed, and they are more cautious and anxious than they need to be.  Anxious children can act out, and become more scary to us as we worry over their next moves!

It’s a fine balance for a parent – enough warning vs. enough freedom to explore.

“How much freedom should my toddler/pre-schooler/ primary grade/middle schooler/ teen have?” is a frequently asked question in my work as a parent coach. Knowing what’s normal is not always natural, as we can have amnesia for being that age (and sometimes our normal was not so normal.)

Here are some tips for handling the typical fear that comes with parenting children:

  1. Practice mindfulness.  Check in with your thoughts and ask yourself, “Is there really a danger here and now?” If so, act on it. If not, say to yourself, “There’s no present danger, so I will let my child explore.”
  2. Remind yourself that as much as you’d like to control their every move to keep them safe, children are their own persons.  They have their natural, evolving urges as a normal part of child development, and you shouldn’t try to take that away.
  3. Read up on normal child development.  It’s so important to know what’s appropriate at every age so you can be on track with your expectations. Click here, and bookmark this site.
  4. Take a break from parenting whenever it seems reasonable.  Plan for time to yourself at least once a month, so you can rejuvenate and come back to parenting feeling refreshed.
  5. Call for coaching if you need help in determining what’s normal for your particular child, and how to respond.  We’re here to help!  Click here.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!




PostHeaderIcon Happy New Year! Now Put That Down!

Happy New Year!  Now Put That Down!

Comedian Louie Anderson answers the question: What made you laugh in 2015?

A. I made myself laugh the most this year thinking I was so smart or right about something. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for my glasses only to discover them right on my face, or thinking I’ve lost my iPhone or someone has stolen it only to discover that I was sitting on it or it was right there in my hand. Not to mention the keys in my hand, in the door lock or in the ignition of my car. “As plain as the nose on my face,” I can hear my mom say.

Parents, can you relate? I know I find myself laughing about this often. The thing that strikes me most lately is that I am holding something, totally unaware, while I’m holding six other things, and suddenly I’m spilling or making a mess because I failed to put something down.

So in the New Year, let’s all watch how much we’re holding at once.  When we are bombarded from all sides by children’s requests, paying  bills, doing laundry, buying food, making meals, going to the doctor, helping with homework, taking care of pets, cleaning the house (ha!) and attending to the needs of our work, ourselves and our mates, maybe we should think about putting something down, just for the moment.  “Present Moment Parenting”, we call it.  It involves taking something up, yes, but also putting something down.  Maybe putting several things down.

I’m not just talking just about physical “things” or tasks here, but also thoughts, distractions, and mind-wanderings.  Children sense when parents are not present, and they tend to exploit the situation, as you are well aware. They also learn distraction from us.  So if you’ve been complaining about your child not being able to focus, try taking a quick inventory of the times he or she has seen you in a distracted state (using the tablet, phone, or computer.) Maybe you’ll see where distraction is being reinforced.  And if you feel as if your child is demanding, again, take a look at how you interact with her, just to check whether she’s learning a demanding, hurry-up, right-now sense of urgency from you.

This sense of urgency seems SO necessary in today’s world, but it’s time to rein it in for our mental and physical well-being. We actually can slow our thoughts down to a normal speed, even though it doesn’t seem so. Consider this: at the end of the day, will it matter if you’ve had the average 50,000 thoughts or 20,000?  Who will be counting?  And what will you gain if you slow the thoughts down?  Perhaps a bit of peace of mind, perhaps a slower, more connected relationship with your child or partner.  Perhaps mindfulness and fewer health concerns.

I think yoga has enjoyed such popularity in the US and beyond in recent years because as humans, we realize the need to slow down is coming from our inner core. With all that goes on with a busy family, it’s very easy to get caught up in quick, impersonal, even commanding interactions that erode our sense of peace.  Let’s learn to listen to our inner voices and say no to the constant “hurry up” of modern life.  When we do, we give our children an enormous gift, for this present moment and beyond.

Happy New Year from all of us at the Center for the Challenging Child.

If you’d like help with this or any other parenting issue, please visit for the answers to most of your questions.  Have more questions?  Email





PostHeaderIcon Spoiled Child? Use Mindfulness.

Spoiled Child?  Use Mindfulness.

Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal, Parent Coach and Trainer

Are you worried that your child is spoiled?  Five fundamental facets of mindfulness from Dr. Daniel Siegel can help you to prevent more spoiling, and alleviate the spoiling that may have already occurred.

1)      The ability to be non-judgmental

Please don’t judge the spoiled child.  The more you stay in a place of judgment, the more the idea of her being spoiled gets reinforced.  Start right now to think of her as kind, considerate and willing to help. Whenever you see a millisecond of that behavior, say, “When you give me a hand with the dishes, I feel so happy and respected. It shows me that you really care.”  This will assure that you’ll see that behavior again.

2)      Non-reactivity, equanimity

Avoid reacting to spoiled behavior.  If you fail to match his high spoiled energy with your high energy level, the behavior will dissipate.  Give it time, and never give up.

3)      Living in the present moment

In other words, don’t panic.  Stay with the child in the present moment. Ask a question, rather than issue an edict. In advance, decide that saying, “I’m bored” is off limits in your house.  Have your child make a list of favorite activities and post it on the fridge.  If your child acts bored, just reply with “Remember? No saying ‘I’m bored’ in our home.  Take a look at your list of things to do and choose one.”

4)      Ability to label with words the internal world

Listen deeply to your child and ask her to tell you what’s really happening inside.  She may be outwardly yelling because she feels she got fewer privileges than her brother, but the inward feeling might be very different.  Instead of yelling at her for yelling, ask “What’s going on?”  If she says, “I don’t know,” continue with, “If I guess how you are feeling, will you tell me if I’m right or wrong?”  Then name a few feelings.  “Would it be that you are disappointed?  I notice you didn’t get exactly the same thing as your brother. Could that be it?  If you are disappointed, you can tell me directly, and we can talk about it.  You don’t have to yell.”  This is enormously helpful with a spoiled child.  She now has a way to communicate, while being truly seen.  And once the true feeling is expressed, just stay with her.  “You’re feeling disappointed.  I sure see that.”

But don’t fix it.  The real desire of a child is to be seen, not to be catered to in every moment.  She just has a mistaken belief that being catered to is love.  Real love is being seen.

5)      The capacity for self-observation
Help your child replay the last upsetting scene, so he can get perspective on his actions.  Say he just threw his shoe across the living room, barely missing the table lamp, because someone changed the channel.  Instead of getting upset, ask him calmly to get the shoe.  Let a few minutes pass, and then say, “Let’s run through that again.”  Have him go back to his show, let someone change the channel, and have him throw his shoe.  Then replay the scene.  Have him go back to his show, let his brother change the channel, and then teach him words directly.  “I am watching Sponge Bob.  Will you change it back, please?” Coach his brother to say, “OK, but when it’s over, I’d like to choose a show.”

Once a child is spoiled, he’s not like a piece of fruit that can never be restored to an unspoiled state.  You always have the opportunity, in every present moment, to turn the spoiled state into a cooperative one.  Be mindful of this, and you’ll see the end of the spoiled behavior much sooner than you thought possible!

For help with implementing these steps, or any other child behavior issue, read about parent coaching. Click here.

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