I have been on hiatus handling the silent time, the Tupperware business, the house, and of course my darling Little Miss, and if that chaos isn’t enough I am also “on call” as my mother – yes my mother- gets ready to birth her seventh child any day now.
These last couple weeks I have really been reminded of a key part of our parenting – Validation and Empowerment
Watching a group of children play and one small two year old had his feelings hurt and respond by hitting, I watched a parent/child interaction go like this.
Parent: Why are you crying?
Child: Tears and screaming no answer
Parent: Stop crying and tell me what is wrong. What happened! (now in a more yelling voice)
This interaction continued in the same manner for 1-2 min and then was followed by the child being spanked while being told
“We don’t hit and you need to stop crying”
Some parents spank and some do not that is to each their own not the time to debate that – BUT – spanking for a child’s feelings is not okay.
After watching that interaction I really reflected on myself as a parent and how I handle my child.
Even when fits occur (yes my cute little 8 month old throws tantrums – they are pretty impressive too) I use a calm voice with her, and validate her feelings (ex: Little Miss I know you are upset, it is okay though I will be right there.etc) I also do this with my friend’s children or even my siblings and have seen it work wonders.
A child who misbehaves always has a reason – rarely however (depending on their age) are they able to express why that action occurred.
So asking “why” is not only pointless but an open door for a child to make up a story that is “easier” to explain.
1.Discovering the problem that occurred (ex: What happened? Hitting is unacceptable, you don’t talk back etc.)
2.Understand and accept their thoughts and feelings (ex: I understand that Suzie took your toy away and that upset you. I understand that you are having a hard time right now (3) but we can’t throw a fit…)
3.Explain why the actions are incorrect (this a big one. their ACTIONS are incorrect NOT their FEELINGS!) (ex: But hitting Suzie was not okay. We don’t hit.)
4. Have a consequence but explain why (ex. Let’s sit down for a few moments until we calm down because hitting is not okay.)
5. Find a solution (ex. you need to apologize to Suzie. Next time use your words to tell Suzie to not take your toys or come and get a parent. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed lets use words instead of throwing a fit. If you don’t want to do what I ask then we can take some time to sit quietly until we can.)
6. End it on a good note (ex. Thank you for apologizing and I am sorry that situation upset you. Are you doing better now? Good, Hugs/Kisses go back out and play. Have you had some time to cool down? etc)
The biggest thing these steps achieve is clarity and empowerment. You are calmly handling your child having a hard time, no screaming, you are informing them of what was done wrong, validating that they are having a hard time but it isn’t acceptable for them to act the way they are, you empower them by giving them a solution to the problem and give them confidence by ending on a good note.
Every time it happens they grow and there will be a point where they talk others through acting up, they help others. They will be better rounded and confident children and best of all they will know that their feelings have worth. Their feelings are not what gets them in trouble, their feelings are valid, and that will help them be stronger individuals.
What peaceful parenting methods have you found that really work for you?