View my recent article Transforming Toddler Tantrums in The Women of Gloucester Online Magazine!
View my recent article Transforming Toddler Tantrums in The Women of Gloucester Online Magazine!
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A WHOLE CHILD APPROACH
©2011 by Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF
How to handle toddler temper tantrums has always been a hot topic among parents and experts. Kicking feet and flailing arms can fray a parent’s nerves and flip the balance of your day topsy-turvy. When you are standing in line at the super market and your toddler is throwing a royal fit over a piece of candy you want a solution that best meets the needs of the whole child. Don’t lose your cool!
Here are three ways to successfully meet the emotional needs of your toddler, model internal self-regulation, and transform those terrible tantrums.
1. Transform tantrums by being attentive to your toddler’s needs.
Your toddler’s strong reaction is the measure of his internal frustration or confusion over whatever is happening to him. These reactions are common toddler behaviors. He needs your attention and gets it the only way he knows how.
Attention seeking behaviors at this age are never about cognitive pre-planning; rather, all behaviors come from underlying unmet needs. Gaining a better understanding of what your child really needs will help you address the problem appropriately and restore his sense of feeling safe and cared for once again.
ACTION: Ask yourself what is driving the behavior? Finding the unmet need is the first step to filling it. Is your child tired, hungry, and overwhelmed by the tantalizing sights and sounds of the supermarket, playground, or other environment? It’s easy for little minds and bodies to confuse being tired with being hungry. Adults do that all the time. The sweet red taffy just beyond his reach has now pushed him beyond his level of tolerance.
2. Transform tantrums by calmly acknowledging your child’s feelings.
Toddlers do not have the ability to accurately verbally express how they feel and often will let you know through their emotional upset and crying.
ACTION: You can hep diffuse difficult behavior by ‘describing’ or ‘naming’ what your toddler is feeling. This action will let your toddler know you care about what he feels and you are capable of helping him feel better about it.
EXAMPLE: “I see how upset you are because you want the candy so much.”
Or, “I can see how angry you are right now. I understand how hard this is for you not to have candy.”
Or, “Wow, this is a noisy place. I don’t thing you like all this noise right now. Help mommy finish shopping so we can go somewhere quiet and have fun.”
3. Transform tantrums by creating a positive response to a negative reaction.
It is more productive and effective to provide your child with choices of what she can do or have, instead of focusing on what you do not want her to do or have.
ACTION: Seperate the child from the cause of the upset while lending emotional support. This might mean heading down a different isle, redirecting her attention to something else, or, in extreme cases, leave your basket at the customer service desk while you and your child get some fresh air and a change of scenery. Always reassure your child they are going to be okay.
EXAMPLE: (Describing) “We have been out for a long time this morning, Sam.”
(Positive choice and outcome) “Pick out your favorite cereal so Mommy can get you home quickly and you can have your nap.”
(Reassurance) “Next time we won’t be so long.”
Points to Remember
* A toddler’s ability to regulate their emotional and impulsive reactions is experience limited. They are navigating their rapidly expanding world for the first time and can become easily overwhelmed and frustrated.
* The goal is to help your toddler master his internal and sometimes unruly emotions that lead to less than desirable behavioral displays. Your toddler will need a very patient caregiver to help her learn these lessons well.
How a toddler eventually internalizes self-regulation will depend upon the models they have available from a loving family, friends, pre-school or other caregivers to the community in which they live. All young children need nurturing guidance and lots of patience. Parents who respond to tantrums in calm, consistent, and positive ways meet deep emotional needs in their children. Meeting needs at this level secures your toddlers positive self-esteem.
Once you have mastered all these skills, parenting through the tween years should be a piece of cake! Or, will it? See you then. 🙂
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© 2010 by Deborah Beasley
Is it possible? Can it be that time of year already? We hadn’t time to recuperate from Halloween when Christmas and Hanukah decorations began showing up on the shelves. We were just beginning to think about the menu for our Thanksgiving Feast as the onslaught of Holiday television advertising kicked into high gear.
The movers and shakers behind brilliant advertising campaigns knew right when to pounce on the weakened wills of our unsuspecting kiddies. With their mouths still salivating over the stash of trick or treat sweets and their cute little brains on a sugar high, their eyes began to take on that familiar ‘deer in the headlights’ look kids get when they see all those sparkly new toys on the telly.
The mere possibilities overwhelm such delicate systems and a chorus of voices has reached the ears of parents far and wide. Yes, folks. ‘Tis is the season of ‘I wants’, ‘Get me’s, and ‘Gimmies’. Despair not! When opportunity knocks, good parents open the door. Balance the ‘gimmies’ in your kids with giving this Holiday Season. Teach your child the spirit of compassionate giving.
Here are 10 opportunities for kids to give in Gloucester County and beyond:
1. Begin or participate in a holiday winter coat drive through your school, church, sport team, or Scout troop.
2. Organize a food drive or donation drop in your area to benefit the local Pantry.
3. Help your child research and choose an organization s/he may want to help by collecting donations of food, clothing, or baby items and personally delivering them to the shelter or organization.
4. Offer to help an older neighbor with yard work, fall clean up or shoveling snow throughout the winter season.
5. Decide to run an Alex’s Lemonade Stand yearly to benefit kids with cancer.
6. Allow your kids to choose a child to sponsor through organizations like Christian Children’s Fund. They can pick the country of the child and communicate often through letters and photographs with their sponsored child.
7. Young children can help parents write a menu and pick out ingredients for a meal to be donated to a family in need during this season.
8. Take your children to pick out one gift each for a child less fortunate and place them in the Toys for Tots collection box.
9. Ask friends and family members to donate new pairs of gloves, hats, socks, ear muffs, and scarves for underprivileged children.
10. Get involved with a local ‘soup kitchen’ where young people may volunteer to serve those coming in for their meals.
According to the Volunteer Center of Gloucester County located in Sewell, New Jersey, “Youth volunteerism has doubled in the last 15 years. “ The Center reports that “young people volunteer 2.4 billion hours annually” to help meet the needs of others in the community. Why should your child let them have all the fun?
First Lady Michelle Obama in an essay written exclusively for USA Today Magazine in 2009 wrote, “The current generation of young people is one of the most socially conscious and active, with 61% of 13- to 25 year olds saying they feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world.”
The First Lady goes on to say, “When so many people are struggling to make ends meet, we need everyone pulling together to help solve our nation’s problems and lift up our fellow Americans.” This includes America’s youngest citizens.
Teaching kids to open their hearts to others prepares them to be the people of character we envision them becoming in the future. Encouraging kids to give to others promotes a spirit of willingness to give generously of their time and talents to those in need. Parents who model the ideals of community giving in any season will support healthy growth in their children all year round. You will still hear the ‘gimmies’ and ‘get me’s’ so familiar to children excited by the season. Now it will be tempered by a new social awareness and the joy they experience from learning the spirit of compassionate giving.
Deborah Beasley, ACPI CCPF, is a Certified Parenting Coach, workshop presenter, and adoptive parent. She is the author of From Foster Care to Adoption- Navigating the Emotional Journey, A Parent’s Guide to State Adoption (2010), and regular contributing writer for The Women of Gloucester County online magazine. Deborah is the founder of Together At Last Family Support which provides phone and in home coaching services, parenting education courses, and supports for families raising children with mental health and behavioral concerns.
Contact Deborah at: 609-970-1100
Parent Support: http://www.HowDoesYourChildGrow.wordpress.com
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MULTIPLE TRANSITIONS: A YOUNG CHILD’S POINT OF VIEW ABOUT FOSTER CARE AND ADOPTION
This video was written and Produced by Michael Trout, Director of the Infant-Parent Institute in Champaign, Ill. (c) 1997.
It provides a real, I mean really real, look into the experience of a child in foster care, and insight into what such a child thinks being adopted is all about. It opens the foster adoptive parents to how the child views her or his world. This powerful video illustrates profoundly the content of many of the articles on this site. I hope it will have the added impact to create new prospectives in the understanding and handling of foster children everywhere.
Foster care as it exists today is psychologically and emotionally damaging. It will never be okay for a child to be in foster care. But radical improvements throughout the system can make it safer for children in state care. Fewer moves and long term care with better trained, screened, and monitored caregivers is a start.
This video is powerful and emotional. Settle in, folks. It’s going to be a bumpy ride… Deb
After you view the video below click the back button to return to How Does Your Child Grow and leave a comment.
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© 2010 By Deborah Beasley ACPI CCPF
No parent begins their journey deciding to be harsh or hurtful as part of their parenting plan. The irony of parenthood is that we sometimes react to our children in negative ways which defy our natural parenting instincts. Comedienne Phyllis Diller expresses this thought with humor when she says: “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.”
Do you react more than you respond to your child? If so, it is time you close the door on reactive parenting. This is the right time for parent’s to say: “Not in my house!”
“Don’t push my buttons!”
There is one painful childhood experience hiding beneath each one of our so called ‘buttons.’ Harsh words we heard from our parents or teachers, and they heard from theirs traces back for generations. These painful remembrances often lie just below our seemingly calm parental exterior.
Any number of everyday events is capable of exposing the painful scars on the heart of the child still within us. As our daily demands and stress levels stretch there remains the likely potential of a rupture of our unresolved hurts. When our ‘buttons’ pop, what they tell us about why we react is revealing. When our buttons fly, the things we say come straight from generational conditioning.
If I Said It Once, I’ve Said It a Million Times
The following is a list of conditioned phrases. Don’t be surprised if some of them sound familiar.
• Not in my house!
• Over my dead body!
• Not if I have anything to say about it?
• Don’t give me that attitude!
• Wipe that smirk off your face before I wipe it for you!
• Don’t give me that look!
• Don’t talk to me with that tone!
• Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.
• Why do I have to repeat myself? You should get it right the first time.
• Don’t you ever listen when I’m talking to you?
• I tell you till I’m blue in the face.
• Listen to me or else…
• Do as I say or else…
• Sit there until you figure out what you did.
• Stand in that corner until you can learn how to be good.
• Go to your room! I don’t want to see you.
• Say that again and I’ll wash your mouth out with soap!
• I am so angry I can’t even look at you!
• Are you stupid? What were you thinking?
• If Jimmy jumped off a bridge would you do it too?
• What’s wrong with you?
• Why are you so bad?
• It doesn’t matter what you think, (or feel) I make the rules.
• In this house you’ll do as I say.
Whew! Even I have to breathe through that!
The Parenting Paradox
The heart of the parenting journey is the joy of creating family and pro-active parenting; protecting, teaching, and nurturing. We carefully weigh what to keep from our parents, what we will amend, and what to adopt from current social trends. Our parenting philosophy grows from what we value most.
Each of the above phrases communicates something very powerful to our children. The message is one of power and control through fear, threats, and isolation. This is not the message we ever intended to give. This is certainly not what we had in mind when we decided to become parents.
Challenge and Growth
It is important to know that we do not give these negative messages willingly, or even consciously. Each one of us carries within us emotional echoes from past generations. The way we interact with and speak to our children is heavily seeded by early childhood experiences. This scientific truth does not mean we cannot improve on reality.
Life is about challenge and growth. Challenge is our willingness to explore and acknowledge our actions without further injury of self-blame. Challenge is simply to know and move forward. Growth is our readiness and ability to move beyond the obstacle. Growth is active. It requires participation.
Are you ready to close the door on conditioned reactive parenting? (Okay. This is your part.)
You say; “Yes! I am!”
Out With the Old
Great! It is time to take charge of the parent you want to be. Here are seven ways to replace old conditioning with new.
1. You are such a great kid.
2. I am so glad I have you.
3. We are very proud of you for ________________. (fill in your child’s accomplishment. Such as: I am very proud of you for taking good care of the dog; or, for trying hard on your test.)
4. Life is an experiment. You will make mistakes, but you will never disappoint me.
5. Don’t ever be afraid to come to me for help or support.
6. I’ll always be here to listen.
7. I love you.
Reactive Parenting? Not in my house!