This is the second in a 3-part series on what to do when you feel like you just can’t win as a parent.
Click here for part one, all about getting perspective on your child’s behavior, so you do not feel overwhelmed.
Recently a mom in my private coaching community posted about the tough time she was having, dealing with her 3-year-old’s behavior. In the previous week her child:
– Ran from his childcare classroom multiple times
– Slapped a teacher
– Spit, kicked, and hit multiple people, multiple times, including the mom herself
– Shouted, screamed, and melted down, mostly in public
– Bit a child at the playground
I created a video for her, outlining 3 critical tools to get out of that negative space, despite all of the negativity.
Last week, in this newsletter, I shared the first tool to getting out of that negative space.
Today I want to share the the second tool:
The knowledge of WHY kids push our buttons.
Paradoxically, kids push our buttons so they can feel safe.
I know how weird that sounds. In all my experience – 9 years in the classroom, earning degrees in Human Development/Family Relations and Early Childhood Education, raising my own sons, and working directly with parents for nearly 5 years – I see this again and again and again.
Kids search for boundaries, because boundaries make them feel safe.
That’s why, when they push our buttons, perhaps by having a tantrum, or lashing out, or shouting, they need us to react consistently, positively, and calmly.
Let’s take each of these separately:
Say your child runs down the hall. On Monday, you shout and send them to their room. (We all have those days. Hugs if this was you recently.) But then, when they run down the hall on Tuesday (as we know they will,), you say “Eh. Have it your way, run all you want.”
That inconsistency between Monday and Tuesday moves their walls.
As a result, our kids will keep pushing on the walls, trying to figure out where that boundary is.
We can think of our children having a room in their heads, a nice, comfy and cozy spot. When we react in an authoritarian manner with the button-pushing on Monday, and then in a permissive manner with the button-pushing on Tuesday, our inconsistent behavior moves their walls.
That’s why consistency really matters. We want to give our kids the sense that, when they run down the hall, they won’t get shouting one day and permissiveness the next.
We can think of this as saying to kids what we WANT them to do, rather than what we do not want them to do.
So when they run down the hall, rather than shouting “don’t run!” we can remind them positively by saying, “remember to use your walking feet!”
Kids feel safest when we use a quiet voice, and can communicate, instead of the anger or frustration we are feeling.
I get this. I know how hard this is, from personal experience. Taking deep breaths; spending a few moments in another room; sometimes even screaming into a pillow, have all been helpful as I’ve tried to calm down.
And then returning to your child, knowing that you have control of your emotions, and you can deal with the situation calmly.
That is what they desperately need.
Luckily it is also what feels best for us.
Consistency, positivity, and calm.
These bring out your child’s good behavior.
It can be easier to think about these three qualities – simply to remember them – when we recognize that our children’s boundary-pushing is a developmental trait.
Kids push boundaries so they can feel safe. So they understand where the boundaries are.
What makes them feel safe is our consistent response to their boundary-pushing.
Next week: A simple trick to feel like you’re winning as a parent.
Want a sneak preview of the third tool? You can view the video I made for my coaching client by going to:
(Here is the link to this post)
Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/In the Facebook group…
Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!
What’s up on the podcast this week:
We are starting a 4-part series on how how to school-proof your young child – in other words, how to make it so that school doesn’t screw your kiddo up!
Click the link below to listen:
What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
This week’s Magic Words for Parents is all about why to give kids (as much as possible) the time and space to finish what they start.
Click here to join the Facebook group!
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