Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lovely boy shows aggressive behavior to friends

Hi, Just wondering what kind of advice you have relating to children that show aggression. My 4 year old started acting out aggressively around 18 months old and sometimes - very randomly and in the middle of play/ fun by hitting or pushing other kids and throwing other children's toys. We have tried to help him learn different tools but it doesn't seem to stop and has lead to heart breaking expulsions from play dates and preschools that I worry may negatively affect his self esteem and know we need to help him stop the behaviors before going into kindergarten. Any advice on this subject?

It sounds like your son is an only child, so I’ll treat it as such, please let me know if I’m wrong in this. It’s rather an important point as in large families I feel aggression can come from not feeling fairly treated or from not feeling heard by other people, so they force their own will physically. For only children who don’t have to worry about getting a fair helping, or making sure they get the same as their brothers and sisters, it comes from a different place. Now that your son is 4, he’s ready to start dipping into a deeper understanding of human relationships. Since he’s been aggressive for so long, then it may be a hard habit to break, but usually once the concept clicks within him, he’ll see how it all works.
I’ve noticed that often children can’t grasp the concept that people and children around them are actually PEOPLE. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that how we feel matters, but other people don’t feel at all. They become walking shadows, or walking trees as my mother use to say. We see them, we hear them, but imagining them having a life outside of their interactions with us is difficult. Therefore, your son doesn’t seem to understand that his actions hurt other people, they are simply ways of getting what he needs , when he needs it. It makes sense and it has worked up to this point to a degree, although as you pointed out, its lead to being socially excluded. It’s time for some pragmatic solutions to help your boy find a deeper connection with those around him.
First a little craft to do on a rainy day for you to do together. It will open up the conversation a bit and get him thinking. Its called a Golden Book, and its the start of introducing the golden rule. Make a small book, just stapled pieces of paper, or a notebook, unless you want to give it a cardboard cover and get him to decorate it. Within the book on the left hand pages write on the top “How I like to be treated when I’m playing.” “How I like to be treated when I have a headache.” “How I like to be treated when I have something to say.” “How I like to be treated when I’m playing with my favorite toy.” “How I like to be treated when I’m mad.” “How I like to be treated when I’m sad.” Adding any you feel suit him better. On the opposite page to each one, ask the opposite, i.e. “How I DON’T like to be treated when I’m playing.” Etc. Then, sitting with him and doing it until he gets fed up, get him to draw a picture of each example. As this starts him thinking about how he likes to be treated, then you throw in the next step. You teach him the simple phrase “You Get What You Give.”
How we treat others, the feeling we make them feel, is how we feel later. Other people will treat us the way we’ve treated others. He is a powerful little boy and what he does matters. So often we want our children to behave because of other people, but it creates a different element when we tell them we want them to treat others better because of what it does to them themselves. Once the information is passed on, and you’ve told him about this concept, then it goes into example giving.
If he’s about to hurt someone, or grab something, ask him simply “Do you want people to do that to you?” You can ask further by saying “Should Dad and I act like that? What would happen if we all did it? We’d have an awful house, wouldn’t we? I can’t imagine we’d have much fun.” The Law of Attraction is the universal law which states that like unto itself is drawn, so what we put out there, feeling wise, we get the more of the same. Now 4’s a little young to start teaching about that, but not in principle. If he’s acting aggressively, keep an eye out for things that upset him, or frustrate him afterwards. Notice when he’s not happy, dancing about, playing, after he’s been mad at his friends, and simply draw his attention to it, asking if he thinks it’s possible that he’s feeling that way because he wasn’t being very nice to others.
You can then make it a game. Ask him to try it out. To see if when you both go out, you treat people really, really well. You smile, you talk to them, play at making people feel good, see how many people you can make smile, then make it a lot of fun doing it, and go out for ice cream after and talk about how good it feels. Go over the top at making it a lovely afternoon, so that he can really feel the difference within himself: When he’s nice and fair, when he’s interacting with people on a positive level, he feels good. When he’s aggressive and only self focused, he feels bad.
If he started his aggression at 18 months, he’s been in this feeling space/perspective for a really long time. It might take some time to really get him to FEEL the difference, but once he does it will become harder for him to go back to the way it was.
Saying that, make sure that your house is ringing out the way you want it to feel. Holidays are always stressful, so this year try to keep the stress at bay, and relax and laugh. Try to keep the other members of the house mindful of their expression of frustration and aggravation, asking them to back up how they feel like “Oh I feel so upset, I better go for a run.” Or “I feel so awful inside, I hurt someone’s feelings.” Or on the positive “I feel great, I helped someone.” It’s all about drawing awareness to how your son is feeling within himself, rather than improving his outward behaviour to others.
We all like to feel powerful, and although aggression can make us feel powerful at the moment, becoming aware of being in charge of how we feel, learning how to do things to make ourselves feel better, and claiming our own emotions is far more empowering and then you don’t have to worry about self esteem.
Another thing that may help. Sometimes children are so scared of "tattling" when they are feeling upset that they forget they can go to adults for help. It can be empowering for a child to know that even if they don't know why they feel upset, they can go and sit with adults for a minute "just to calm down". If your son starts to learn the feeling just before doing something rash, then he can stop it before it happens. If he doesn't want to go to adults for a break, offer him the bathroom trick and tell him to say he has to go the bathroom. Then he can go in there, sit for a few minutes, count to ten, maybe think about things he loves and appreciates and then go back to playing.
One last thing, and it’s a hard one, with it having gone on for so long. Try not to expect bad behaviour from him when he’s around other people. Try not to talk about it as the normal thing for him to do, such as warning him not to do it. Start to imagine him not doing it, imagine him playing with friends with consideration, and giggling with you about what fun he had. By doing this it gives him room to shift and grow into the newer version of himself. Try to introduce him to new friends, as older ones will see him as the way he was and he will return to the old feeling space (not unlike all of us when we go to a reunion.) Start him off with one child, for a half an hour, and then praise him after for what a good friend he was if and when he does well. Use baby steps, expecting the best.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Parents having problems getting toddler to bed

Hi Christina, We always had problems with “sleeping”. Since he was little baby and we ended up with co-sleeping. Only recently we got him to sleep in him own bed, (even if still in our room) and I think we succeeded because his brother sleeps in his own bed… In the evening after dinner we sit altogether in front of tv and watch a film for the older one. Actually we practically watch only his films…. At a certain point we prepare him, put pajama on, wash teeth and ask him to go to bed…(this is around 21h00/21h30) And then begins the struggle….You can be sure, that even if he is exhausted he won’t sleep…Till everybody is not in bed he won’t be quiet…he runs around, he gets off the bed, he goes in the bathroom and eats toothpaste…The first 5/6 time my husband and I, we are calm, but after 2 hours of repeating we go crazy… I think he wants us at bed with him. I do understand that he doesn’t want to be alone and he wants to play…but my husband and I need also some time just for the 2 of us…maybe we had to impose it earlier…but what to do now?

Ah yes! It’s a delicate balance really, as we all need the shut off point, when our children are asleep and we can stop, spend time with our partners and ourselves and feel whole again. All my children have resisted bedtime at some point, or woken up after being asleep to find me again. However, I’ve learnt a few things along the way that may be of interest.
First, I’ve noticed that the more important it is to me that they go to sleep early, whether it’s because I feel I have to get something done, or I want some time with my husband, or I’m just tired myself, the more I push the more they resist. Drifting to sleep is a process of energy, it is when we connect with our spiritual selves for the night, and therefore how our children feel before sleep, both within themselves and around themselves, effects the process of getting to sleep. Whenever I’ve been in a place of worry or frustration that they won’t get to sleep, the longer it takes for them to drift.
Therefore, I would allow it to be a process over a few weeks to get your son peacefully to bed, rather than expect instant results.
I couldn’t tell by your message whether you lie down with him to put him to sleep or whether you put him in bed for him to put himself to sleep. I have found that lying down with children, actually calming them down, drawing with my finger a picture on their back, walking them through a visualization (my daughter use to love to go to sleep hearing about a garden that she walked into, we would describe the flowers, pick some fruit, there was a pet donkey, and then she would sit under a tree for a picnic, which was the sign it was time to sleep). I have then sang them to sleep with a lullaby, often tracing my finger across their third eye, just between the eyes, and letting it gently move down their nose. What I’m trying to say I guess is the wind down is about a feeling space, it’s an energy wind down, that will soon have them relaxed and drifting, happily.
Once my daughters became passionate readers I found that I missed putting them to sleep as it was a special time between the two of us. We spoke slower at bedtime, quieter and it was always a time that they could ask questions and express concerns. Even now they are older, I have had all my important conversations with them at bedtime, and on those occasions, I’ve had to let the early nights go, just for the perfect timing of it all.
I know I've suggested watching a movie as good bonding time in the past, but after hearing about his behavior for bedtime, maybe this was the wrong suggestion. For some electronic devices can make them full of energy and highly strung. Perhaps the special time could be taken to the bedroom, with you or your husband reading him a story, slowing things down, singing to him, and putting him to sleep together? You could even make it earlier so that you have more time together after.
We are often told that when we start something with our children there’s no going back and we have to push them to grow up. From co-sleeping, your son is now going to sleep in his own bed, that’s fantastic. but sometimes it’s a 2 step forward, 1 step back motion. He may need the security of feeling you close to him at night sometimes, or simply before going to sleep. I find that although bedtime is usually seen as a routine that should be able to be relied on, in truth it’s an each night, for its own night. Setting the mood, the energy, calming the house down, and letting our children take part in the idea of slowing life down so it makes room for quiet stories, cuddles, looking at stars, relaxing into the magic around them, and then finally drifting off to sleep.
Therefore, create bedtime as a special quality time, so your son enjoys it and you enjoy it too, maybe your husband can get in on the calming space as well, so you can let the three of you relax in each other’s company. By doing so, you won’t be pushing against him being awake, and him sensing you really want him to sleep, and by releasing the pushing, you will allow it, and he will get to sleep all the faster.

Mother is being advised to have authority over 2.5 year old son.

Dear Christina, I read daily your posts on FB and I appreciate them a lot…They correspond to my parenting philosophy. Unfortunately lately I have some problems at home, so I think asking your advice on what I’m living… I have 2 little boys. One 2 ½ years old and the other is just 3 month old. To describe them, one (the older) is a full energy little man and the other one is quiet and calm. They are both open to world, curious and smiley. Our parenting philosophy is much based on love, attention, listening and non punishment. But…In the last months, maybe because of the pregnancy, maybe because of the arrival of the brother, maybe because of the age (the terrible two) or maybe because of our “liberal” education style (the nanny says we don’t have much authority on him…), the older one is definitely more agitated and keeping calm is pretty difficult for us. He provokes us nonstop, moves constantly and never, never listens to us. It gets really difficult for us to enjoy time with him. Unfortunately we are also changing our way of acting. We have started shouting, punishing and I have to admit, even if I’m not proud of it, to spank him…As a result he shouts back and he gets even more difficult… 4 days the week for 5/6h hours the day, he goes to the nanny, where he spends time with other children his age and has lots of activity. Apparently with the nanny he is the same sweet and nice boy. I feel lost because I don’t want to build this kind of conflict relationship with my boy. (I have this kind of relationship with my mother and I know how much pain there is behind) But I don’t know what to do. I have been meeting a psychology and she says I should gain more authority. She agrees that spanking is not a solution, and suggests me to adopt bad looks and stern voice when he is naughty and close him in his room…So I’m applying her suggestions, but I’m not sure that this is the right solution… I feel his loneliness and his sadness when we argue. I perceive his feelings of not being understood…but in the same time it is difficult to handle him in this way. I’m tired and exhausted. I’m afraid of doing mistakes, to hurt him, to be a bad mother…And I love him so much…. What to do to recreate harmony?

I’m so glad you wrote to me. Let’s see if I can help.
First, your little boy sounds wonderful. He sounds energetic, alive, full of emotion and able to feel them to the fullest. I noticed you say he can’t sit still, I have one like that, in many ways I see it as feeling their emotional state so much that it literally physicalizes, which for me is fascinating. Children who feel strongly and so fully are great teachers, and can develop a deep understanding of spiritual things. I also find they can shift direction quickly and go from feeling off to on in a blink of an eye. It just takes getting it to click. It sounds like that what both you and your son are looking for. That connection point where it clicks, where you see your boy in front of you again and he feels safe and secure in himself again.
It’s interesting how everyone is advising you to form a position of more authority. It is the easy, quick fix solution, but I sense in you that if feels off. No matter what, you have to stay true to your instincts, your inner gut feeling and does what feels most yourself. Parenting can be a rough road, but when our children grow up its best to be able to stand high and say we stayed true to ourselves.
Now first, I’m going to go a different route than I normally do. Although it sounds like your son is having a spiritual time of it, I would like to suggest a physical one for you to try on. I suggest it because my daughter, who is full of energy and life much like your son is really effected by it, and it unbalances her. I would look into his diet and make sure he’s not having any food colorings or high sugar, as I notice in our children this challenges their connection. They can be connected while on artificial foods, but its a huge effort and if they are already disconnected it can push them over the edge. Like your son, they won’t be able to sit still, they won’t hear us (not even won’t listen they literally don’t hear us) and they get agitated easily. Provided we feed them plenty of leafy green vegetables, (when they were younger we’d blend them into their food or sprinkle dry ones into sauces) and they drink water not sugary drinks, they can have their on and off moments be true and not effected by outside influences.
Alright, with that said, onto the spiritual side,which is always so much deeper and rings more true.
You are right in the idea that probably your little boy is jealous of your new baby. There he was the centre of your parenting focus and suddenly someone else is there. He cries and he gets attention and seen to, and your little boy is of the age where its ok to wait a few minutes. It upsets me that your psychologist has told you to be stern to him. It makes sense that seeing you with a baby is going to stir up negative emotions in you, in fact he may be mad at you and feel you are unfair (even though you probably aren’t). He is experiencing disconnection because of what he sees and as you said, he feels alone, left out, and not understood.
You should be proud of yourself for feeling his emotions as you do. That is an indicator of being connected to our children, when we can feel how our children feel, and see the world through their eyes.
On top of his jealousy, leaving the home to go to a nanny is probably upsetting him to a point, as he doesn’t know if its just about you spending more time with the baby that has taken his place. I don’t know if he went before the baby was born, but even still, he leaves you alone with the baby when he goes and it probably cements the thought process going off in his lovely head.
My first suggestion is take some one on one time with him. If he doesn’t want to connect with you start a game on your own. Put on some fun music and dance, it will change the feeling of the home, you can be wearing the baby in a sling or carrier, or have him asleep, and then invite your boy to dance with you. Act silly, pull faces, try to make him laugh. Do head shoulders, knees and toes or some other action game. Get active with him. If he can’t sit still and won’t listen, its a form of play that might engage him. If you want calm, set up a time every night where its just you and him (and your partner) all sitting on the couch watching one of your son’s favorite shows, or a new one. Try to make it a calm, nice energy. Type up the old Paddington bears on Youtube, the ones from the 1970s, or Postman Pat, try Mr. Rogers. The great thing about shows like them is that they have elements the parents can enjoy as well, so it doesn’t feel like we’re just watching for our kids, its a group activity for everyone to enjoy. If he’s not listening, don’t bother talking. Create a fun element, at least once a day. Get him helping with baking, sweeping, or just make sure you play with him when he’s in the bath.
A 2.5 year old, in general terms, have a mission. They have explored the world around them to a point, and they understand it to a point. They are looking for the new exploration and they don’t know where to find it. When we keep them in the same routine with the same games etc, they get frustrated, as they crave more, but don’t know where to turn. Your son may be “behaving” at his nanny’s because a nanny’s job is to create a fun environment. They go on outings, they do crafts, they play music. They play and they keep it fresh. Try finding a new exploration when you play with your son. Get some new toys, go to a new park, take him to a zoo. Get crafty and show him how to glue, or make cars go down ramps. Get outside, show him nature, draw his attention to things to notice. Help him push through the blockage. He might resist it for a bit, but soon, if he senses you have fun in his presence, and you are engaging with him, he’ll start to shift to a state of connection.
Lastly, its important to not see him in his new light. As you know, this isn’t him, this is his reaction to the chaos his life has made him feel right now. Do your loving work when he’s not feeling off. Even if it means going into his bedroom at night, sitting beside him and just loving him, just looking at him and letting your heart lift, he’ll sense it and feel better for it. Take moments in the day to praise him, to hug him randomly, to smile at him. Send him love when he’s at his nanny’s, keeping him in your thoughts. Love, love, love him, with all of your might. Stern looks, and putting him in his room, is like shutting the love off, where really he doesn’t need to feel like he has to earn your love back.
If he acts out, then stop, breathe, look at him and ask him why he feels sad. Ask him if he needs a hug. Tell him if he screams, or is mad it makes the house feel bad, so how can you together make it happy. Then distract, distract, distract. Find a new exploration, mention a bird outside, pull a funny face. Find a way to connect to who you know he is, rather than who is presenting to you.
Its hard sometimes, and yes you are allowed to feel off, overwhelmed and like banging your head against a wall. This is a crazy time of transition for you as well, so let it be that. But trust me, when you start the wheel of love going, of laughter, of fun, it builds, each day gets better, its universal law.
Trust in your connection with your boy. He chose you, and when he did I’m sure he knew his brother would come at some point, he chose you so you could both go through this together and figure it out, together.

Mother asks how to stop defiant behaviour peacefully.

How can you get them to go to bed? How do you get them to stop screaming in your face w defiance? How do you NOT be the lion tamer when you have little crazy lions? I know I know - never get mad, never get frustrated, never swat, never yell, always breathe and speak softly. Well.... I'm trying.

I don’t say this a lot on here, but really, where do we get the idea that we can’t get mad or frustrated? Yes, I always say find the feeling better space and no we can’t hit our children, but our negative emotions are JUST as important as our positive ones. Sometimes, more important. Yes, children can make us feel mad or frustrated... so can partners, bankers, strangers and traffic lights. When they do... they don’t mean to. Rather it is within us giving us a sign that we’re reacting or seeing things from a place that isn’t from us. It does no good to block the emotion and pretend its not real. It’s very real and needs taming too. Parenting is a hands on spiritual experience as when we feel these things, even if we bottle them up, our children sense them and react to them... or at least offer more behaviour to back the feeling up. Therefore we have to change the feeling space that we live in, and they do to. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling great then your children can play loudly, but when you feel off the noise can drive you crazy? Or when you are on they can ask questions that engage you and stay up late talking, but when you have a million things stressing you out or are super tired the same thing will have you climbing the walls?
We have to allow ourselves the off time, and we have to allow our children to know we’re feeling frustrated or mad. The trick is not to blame them for that. “I’m feeling mad inside” vs “You make me so mad!” Then they will see themselves in the same light and learn from you to experience all their emotions. We aren’t lion tamers... just bigger lions. Therefore honesty is in order. Depending on the age, explanations work, but even my three year old understands “you have to go to bed because your body needs more sleep than mine, so you can get big like Dad.” Followed by a “I’ll talk to you about tractors while we settle down, or I’ll tell your favorite story” Usually gets him up there and I get to have fun too if I’m not anxious that he won’t get there fast enough. Sometimes he might have something he has to do first. I like to be respected for my needs so I’ll let him have 5 minutes to do a bit of it. Screaming in your face? I usually reply “Would you like me to do that to you?” They usually say no. And then, when they talk the way I think they want to be talked to then I make sure I listen.
It’s a journey, a journey about ourselves as well as about them. For often when we feel negative emotions, they are just letting us know we don’t like the situation, but we can jazz it up, change the pace, make them laugh, make us laugh. It doesn’t have to be all about calm and peaceful. Little lions are sometimes trying to remind us that there is fun to be had and we sometimes get better response when we give them that one and jump in.

parents who differ in opinion regarding parenting

I have a question, and I will use the example of the other night at bedtime. I was in bed with my son reading books and ready to switch off the lights. He didn't want to go to bed but rather go downstairs and play. My husband (of the thought process that it is our responsibility to 'discipline' children) started shouting that he must listen to his mother and go to bed. Crying ensued. I on the other hand, because I've learned that my husband and I have different techniques, felt awful that I let this happen, then took my son downstairs for 10 minutes, said goodnight to the house, switched off all the lights with him and he peacefully, willingly came to bed... My question is: 1. How confusing must these two styles be to my son? I hate that I can't convince my husband on my parenting style when it so plainly is more effective?! And 2. How can I best manage that with my husband - he tells me I'm too soft and that I don't play any role of a disciplinarian and that my son has me wrapped around my finger and is manipulating me (which I know is not true! I allow him to act out whatever it is that he wants because I know it’s not harmful and just requires me to be patient, eventually we are back on the same page)...Such a great question and one that happens so often.

First, your son will understand that there are two approaches to the issue and will have a clear representation of it. That’s a great tool for the rest of his life. Quite honestly, he will appreciate yours in the long run and rather than it being taken for granted he will know that you respect his wishes, and learn to respect yours, he will feel listened to, and seen as a person. He will come across a lot of people who react as your husband and understand it on a deeper level as he grows. Unfortunately, it may build a wall between him and his father as time comes as he won’t feel like a person... just a child in his father’s eyes. But this is a common hurdle that a lot of parents overcome in time.
You can’t convince another person of anything and discipline has been the parenting model for a very long time. The only thing I can suggest is being honest, saying things like “I hated it when my parents tried to control me, I never did what they wanted me to do, or I just resented it.” Or “Do you like to be controlled?” or “When people don’t respect what I’m asking I feel alone, I don’t want him to feel that way.” If he says your son is manipulating you, then remind him you don’t want to manipulate your son to get to bed. You want a family that respects each other, and when a child is young it is often about showing that respect to our children, to set the bar. Reassure your husband that if your son starts asking too much, that you will ask for the same respect you are showing him and teach him to respect your husband’s and your wishes, so the family can be harmonious.
Your husband is doing what he feels is best and reacting to how he feels. That needs respect too. A family is a co-creation and you will all find compromises and ways of falling into step with each other. Helping his relationship with his son, you can encourage your child to be considerate of his father. “Your dad seems stressed tonight, lets take you up to bed to give him some quiet time.” Etc.
Also, if you ever want to get your husband in on this conversation, he is welcome to write to me too. My husband and I both started off this parenting journey thinking control was the order of the day, the joyful journey was discovered soon after we realized control just wasn’t working.
The mother's husband then wrote me, to express his perspective: Husband- At the current time our son throws tantrums for the smallest things it is basically whenever something doens't goes his way. As soon as his mother or anyone gives or let him do what he wants it stops immediately..... i'm sorry but this is emotional manipulation.... these are toddlers when they will become or are teenagers things will be or are not the same arguing your way out is not an option and issues discussed might not always play the way we wish in the teenagers mind... We live in a world and society which is dictated by authority and respect.. we all have to follow rules whether we like it or not, a child that is given his way whenever he wishes will have serious issues with authority as he grows up... that means issues with school and studies issues with work and social issues as well. I just can not imagine a person having a healthy life if they get angry because something doesn't happen there way and things in life don t always play the way we expect them... Plato once said that everything in life needs balance anything in excess leads to chaos or destruction, i personally think with children it is necessary to love them as much as possible but not over spoil them, communicate with them as much as possible but respect their privacy as well and not in a parental psychotic way, be respected and have your authority respected by the child but not be hitler either and mainly to have has much fun as possible with them. After all we all love are kids here on this forum otherwise we wouldn't be here but let's face it what we want is for our kids to have a happy childhood so yes it is ok to get dirty once in a while , yes it 's ok to have chocolate and candy enjoy for god sake let kids be kids.......

I am so glad you wrote. Thank you for providing your perspective. I actually agree with a lot that you have said. But as this page tries to tap into the deeper version of both ourselves and our children, I would like to shift the perspective slightly to say how I agree. At our spiritual core we are positive beings, when we feel less then ourselves, when we feel “off”, insecure, unsure, frustrated, confused, or upset we act unlike ourselves. As we get older we get use to feeling off. We become in the habit of it and in doing so can go through the motions of the day, dealing with people “socially” acting like nothing is wrong. A 2 year old can’t cover their true emotions up. They can’t pretend they don’t feel off when they do and they are so lucky. When we feel off and are aware of it, we can then use it as a spiritual tool to connect to our higher source again. If we cover it up, sometimes we don’t know how disconnected we really are and we become like shadows. Therefore, our children’s tantrums are great tools. Now, where I agree is that a child can’t always get what they want, none of us can, and that goes especially when we are feeling off. It’s a bit of a vicious circle, but it’s the same for all of us. Universal powers will never let us get our own way when we are disconnected, we think we need something to be happy, but we usually can’t get it unless we get happy anyway.
When a child has a tantrum it’s a delicate balance. I find it feels off just to give in, because it passes on the concept that things make us happy and that the world is waiting to give everything we want to us provided we scream loud enough (where you were coming from, right?), but if we shut the tantrum up we are telling them to get over feeling off and pretend the feeling doesn’t exist. This leads to a different shutting down later in life. We are also passing on to them that if we shout loud enough, or make demands, than we get what we want (children going to bed for instance). Shouting at children either shuts them down, or gets them shouting to get their way later on in life. So, where does that leave us? Viewing our children as people too it depends on the scenario and each individual situation. Sometimes a child is so tired it takes picking them up, crying even in their offness, tucking them in and holding them tight. We know it feels horrible to feel off, many a time we want to scream and shout, but bed can be a great place to get connected again. A firm no, you are going to bed, and then making bed a fun, loving experience can really help them get back to themselves. Sometimes our children are actually feeling connected and are in the middle of a great train of thought, the idea of stopping that to go to bed freaks them out as they felt so great and now we’re taking it away. Tantrum ensues. On something like that, understanding that we all hate to have a train of thought interrupted, can be offered a few more minutes to finish up. When we see our children from their deeper level we don’t fall into the “you have to do what I say all the time.” Rather we can build a firm, understanding and listening relationship.
Like I said, it’s a delicate balance. But worth it, as it doesn’t raise brats, rather people who are aware of other people’s feelings and perspectives , and more importantly, their own. All the best!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

2 year old no longer being "gentle and loving"

I have lost what was a very gentle loving 2 yr old and has been replaced with a screaming strung out little girl , she shouts alot, hits ,bites the sofa ,spits,throws her food across the table and so much more how can I re balance her and calm her ways?

2 years old is a difficult age as they have observed and experienced quite a bit and want to take life up a notch, but its frustrating for them as they just don’t know how to. Although its often known as a “no” stage, it can sometimes come from us saying “no” almost as often as them, as they experiment and explore on a totally different level, resulting in things they just can’t do. Therefore a cycle of frustration can be created, which is like a ball of energy bouncing between us and our children. Since it is coming from a place where for 2 years we’ve been their safety net, their grounding place and security in being, it can be a shock when we start to say no more frequently, so more of the behavior we are saying no to is given.
Her behaviour is a reaction to her new position . She’s feeling disconnected from who she knows she is and then by presenting off behaviour , you in turn see her differently and she feels less like herself. So, like you ask, how to find rebalance and help her connect? You don’t have to calm her ways, that will happen when she’s connected and feeling herself again.
I wish I knew more about her. For instance, is she talking? How is her comprehension? Does she appear like she wants to be treated older? I know by 2, our eldest girl was eager to be seen as a member of the household. She wanted to help around the place, she would talk about what to have for dinner, and make choices about what she wanted to wear and what story she wanted read to her. She begged for feeling empowered and to help make decisions about things that effected her. This way really important on helping with her connection. If she felt powerless, she felt disconnected and less like herself. To this day, 8 years later, she is responsible and likes to help out with decisions. She’s a great leader with friends and family as well. Don’t be afraid to ask your daughter what she wants, needs or likes. She might be trying to get your attention.
As we are positive beings at our core, connection comes when we feel happy and joyful. What I would suggest is to set aside sometime to live in your daughter’s world. Take the phone off the hook, turn off the computer and get down on the floor with her. Play a puzzle together, play dolls together, see what interests her and take her lead. Let her show you how to play her way. Talk about things with her, even if she’s just listening. Put on music and dance, letting her choose her own way of dancing.
Also, its an exciting time as she is looking for new explorations. At 2 she’s probably getting fed up and she might need to have wonders brought to her attention. So point out birds flying past, cows in a field, or even rainbows made by a glass. Get her to help with small jobs, watering plants, sweeping up, pulling the plug out of the bathtub. She’ll feel more part of the action and it offers things to talk to her about, for she might want to understand why you are doing what you are doing. I’m a big one for the art of distraction, if she offers negative behaviour, don’t let her set the tone for how you feel. Simply set the calm feeling space and ask if she would like to help you, if she needs a hug, if she’s hungry, or downright look outside and notice something and ask her if she would like to check it out. She will want to feel better! We always want to feel better. If you can find her something to shift her focus to, then she will jump on board, unless what’s bothering her is really that more important.
This is one of the hardest times of year for our children. Suddenly the feeling of everywhere shifts as Christmas approaches and people act differently. For a 2 year old its really confusing, so they react badly. I always try to avoid talking too much about Christmas, as it makes it too big of deal about something they don’t understand. (I always find children flip out a lot more as of November, merely the sight of santa in stores makes them feel off). Try to keep her focus on things in front of her. By two you can even start making lists of appreciation with her before bed as a part of the bedtime ritual. (This can even be done as “Thank you’s” depending on your belief structure, or “I love” lists if you’d like a more universal approach). Drawing simple attention to the good things in her life reminds her they are there, and will shift the energy.
One last thing. Often it is us who set the tone for the house and when we see something in our children that throws us off we have to find the connection within ourselves first, to provide the example, action rather than reaction and a sense of security in a crazy world. Take sometime to shift focus away from your daughter’s behaviour. See her as the sweet, gentle girl, you know her to be,even if you have to do it away from her. Take some time to appreciate things in your life, to spend sometime in your inner world and create the calm energy you wish for her, within yourself. Even if it means taking a few moments before bed. When we find our own connection,and then offer up an issue we are having, we can shift perspective and see the solution, once we’ve stopped looking directly in the problem.