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21 Mar 2024

How to Help Kids When They Act Out

Sometimes kids act out without being mindful of their words and actions, which may result in misunderstandings. And when that happens it can be embarrassing and frustrating, not only for us, but also for them.

How we help kids when they act out, is what matters.

Below are strategies I use with my son:

1. Encourage reflection: Prompt your child to reflect on their actions and consider how they could have handled the situation differently. Encourage them to think about the impact of their words and actions on themselves and others.

2. Cultivate empathy: Help your child consider the feelings of others by prompting them to reflect on how their actions might affect others. Ask them to reflect how they think their actions may impact others and encourage them to consider the feelings of others. Acknowledge and praise children when they demonstrate thoughtfulness and mindfulness in their words and actions.

3. Teach problem-solving skills: Help your child develop problem-solving skills by discussing different ways to approach situations and brainstorming possible solutions together. Encourage them to think about potential consequences before acting.

4. Promote self-compassion: It’s natural to feel guilt and sadness after mistreating someone, even if it was unintentional. Guide your child to apologize, forgive themselves and focus on the lessons learned. Teach them to be kind to themselves when they mess up.

This is what I know: Establishing a nurturing environment when kids act out fosters an atmosphere where children feel safe to share their thoughts and emotions and where they feel supported in their efforts to learn and grow.

25 Oct 2023

Tired Child: Building a Bridge of Understanding

The other evening, my son was really having a hard time listening. I don’t know about you, but when my child isn’t listening, it can trigger lots of different emotions, such as frustration, annoyance and even anger. In these moments, since it’s easy to interpret his lack of listening as a form of disrespect, I consciously work on being mindful of how I am perceiving his behaviour.

If I view it from the perspective of him being intentionally disrespectful and choosing not to listen to me, it’s very easy to react from my anger. However, if I step back and become an observer, I notice something completely different – I notice that he’s tired.

When kids have a tired brain their ability to listen and respond is significantly diminished. They don’t have the capacity to engage with us the way they would when they’re well-rested.

It’s important to recognize this because children, mine included, won’t say, “I’m really tired, and I can’t listen properly because my brain is exhausted.” If I even suggest he might be tired, he will vehemently deny that his words and actions have anything to do with being exhausted.

Instead of interpreting his lack of listening as disrespect, which would cause me to react, I choose to view it as exhaustion. I know that his tired brain is hindering any possibility of a rational discussion. My focus becomes staying calm and avoid taking his words personally, so I can help him achieve a relaxed state.

If there are issues that need addressing, I save those conversations for the morning. After a good night’s sleep, he wakes up transformed, like a totally different person!

This is what I know: Tired brains can’t rationalize. They are reactive, lack emotional regulation and aren’t open to listening and learning. Remembering this will help you approach their behaviour with empathy and patience, allowing you to support them in the best way possible.

Until next time…

12 Oct 2023

How to Handle Kids’ Disappointments and Strengthen Bonds

Life is a series of ups and downs and it’s natural for children to face disappointment along the way.

When my son confides in me about a disappointment, my natural instinct is to think of solutions and ways to fix it, especially if he is feeling sad and dejected.

Disappointments are valuable life lessons that help develop skills like perseverance, empathy, resilience and problem-solving. If you try to protect them from disappointment, it will stop them from developing these essential skills. Without a healthy approach to disappointments, a young person can feel like a failure, causing them to give up or quit.

Below are four strategies to help you and the child in your life effectively deal with disappointment:

1. Acknowledge Emotions

Let them know that it’s okay to feel disappointed and that it’s an emotion that everyone encounters at various times in their life. Remember to acknowledge your own emotions when you see a child experiencing disappointment. Being able to feel your own discomfort is an important part of teaching them to lean into uncomfortable emotions.

2. Validate Emotions

Refrain from dismissing their emotions. Avoid phrases like “It’s not a big deal” or “You’re overreacting.” Such statements invalidate their emotions and can make them feel unheard or misunderstood. Instead, validate their emotions by saying, ‘I understand you’re feeling really disappointed right now’ or ‘That must have been really tough for you.’

3. Teach Emotional Management Strategies

Help them identify healthy ways to release their emotions that bring them comfort and calmness when they are upset, such as deep breathing, counting to ten, or finding an activity that relaxes them.

4. Encourage a Problem-Solving Mindset

Together brainstorm potential solutions or strategies to improve the situation. This approach gives them a plan to better prepare them for handling future disappointments.

Providing a supportive and understanding environment goes a long way to helping a child not only navigate disappointment, but also develop resilience.

Until next time…

28 Sep 2023

Building Emotional Connection, One ‘Refresh’ at a Time

Emotions run high. Meltdowns occur. Tantrums happen.

You can’t have conflict resolution without first facing conflict.

You can’t have redirection without first creating connection.

When you have moments of despair, they need repair.

One effective strategy for enhancing conflict resolution, fostering connection, and facilitating repair is to incorporate ‘refresh’ into your resource toolbox, much like refreshing a computer when it’s bogged down and not functioning properly.

To illustrate the effectiveness of using ‘refresh’, let me share a recent circumstance involving my 11-year-old son.

The other day he experienced a really tough moment as we were about to leave the house. He wasn’t getting something he wanted within the timeframe he was hoping for. While this wouldn’t typically bother him, on that particular day it triggered an emotional storm! I should also add that he had some late nights that had obviously caught up to him, although suggesting that to him wasn’t an option.

I needed to remain calm and steady in his emotional storm – not an easy task, especially when I was frustrated, realizing we needed to leave and I wasn’t even ready! Nothing I said was helpful or comforting. I took a deep breath and stepped away, giving him the space to feel what he was feeling.

After a few minutes, I bent down to his level, knowing this wasn’t the time to question his behaviour or engage in a conversation about it. Instead, I recognized that he needed to hit the ‘refresh button’.

I looked at him and said, “I understand you’re upset that things aren’t going the way you wanted them to. I’m feeling the same way.” (this validates the emotions felt and adds connection)

I presented two options:

1. Continue with our back-and-forth.

2. Take a deep breath and ‘refresh, starting over.

He chose to ‘refresh’, and we did just that without the need to have a further conversation. We hugged and both felt a weight lifted. (this is our way of creating repair)

Despite a bumpy start, we had a wonderful day.

26 May 2021

It is a BIG Deal to a Child

Children come to us with what seems like an overwhelming reaction to something we see as ‘no big deal’. To them, it is a ‘BIG deal’.

It can be easy to dismiss the distress your child is experiencing, not because you don’t care, but because you want to add logic, ‘everyone else is experiencing the same thing’ or ‘it will pass’.  You may even think, ‘compared to what I’m going through or what’s going on in the world, it’s not a big deal’ and then shrug off their feelings.

It’s important to let kids know that you see their sadness, frustration, upset, anger and worry and that you are going to help them through it.

A few weeks ago my son started crying and then sobbing. He missed his friends so much. My heart was breaking seeing his sadness.

Initially my brain wanted to use logic with him, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it. All your friends are probably feeling the same way.’

I wanted to fix it, but I knew I needed to let him release his emotions. So I sat beside him & let him cry. When I saw he had gotten all his tears out, we talked about what we could do together to help him through his ‘big deal’.

When our children are in an emotional state, our job is not to problem-solve. It is to support, comfort and listen with empathy.

Until next time…