KEEP CALM: HOW TO NOT SHOUT AT YOUR KIDS

None of us want to be­come screechy mums. Add these skills to your reper­toire and deal with dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions calmly and qui­etly

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Contents -

Ex­pert tips to help you keep your cool in any sit­u­a­tion

If your child is scream­ing, help her to use rea­son­ing. Try say­ing ‘It’s hard, isn’t it? Can you tell me about it?’

Let’s face it... when it comes to nail­ing what kind of mother we want to be, ev­ery­one wants to be the calm, sooth­ing mum who never loses her tem­per. In re­al­ity though, we know that lit­tle ones – es­pe­cially when they’ve hit the ter­ri­ble twos and threes – are par­tic­u­larly adept at know­ing when and how to push your but­tons. And de­spite your best in­ten­tions, as your frus­tra­tion rises, so does your voice. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Dr Daniel Siegel, par­ent­ing ex­pert and au­thor of No Drama Dis­ci­pline (Scribe, $29.99), be­lieves that by fo­cus­ing on each sit­u­a­tion and your chil­dren’s needs clearly, you can learn to deal with tricky mo­ments in a calmer, qui­eter way. Here, Daniel re­veals his top tips.

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“Be­fore you re­spond to mis­be­haviour take time to ask your­self three ques­tions: ‘Why did my child act this way?’, ‘What lessons do I want to teach in this mo­ment?’ and ‘How do I best teach this les­son?’” says Daniel. “This helps you think about what ap­proach will be ef­fec­tive.”

Shout­ing doesn’t help

Sci­en­tific re­search proves that shout­ing at your lit­tle one will not work. “When your child is born, parts of her brain are al­ready fairly de­vel­oped – like the ‘down­stairs brain’ which helps to con­trol in­stincts,” Daniel ex­plains. “The de­vel­op­ing ‘up­stairs brain’ is for more com­plex rea­son­ing. Try to dis­ci­pline your chil­dren in a way that en­gages this up­stairs brain. If your child is scream­ing, don’t shout at her to stop – it’s sure to en­rage the emo­tional down­stairs brain. In­stead, help her to use rea­son­ing. Try say­ing ‘It’s hard, isn't it? Can you tell me about it?’”

Be proac­tive

Be­come a whiz at pick­ing up the signs that your tod­dler is about to have a tantrum. “Some­times you can spot a storm brew­ing – a hun­gry child is whin­ing or your tod­dler is about to throw a toy,” says Daniel. “If you think your child is about to act in a way that will re­quire dis­ci­pline, try to di­vert her be­fore she gets there. Give your hun­gry child an ap­ple, or ask the tod­dler if she wants to see in­side your hand­bag. Be­ing proac­tive can save you headaches down the line.”

Step in her shoes

Daniel sug­gests putting your­self in your child's shoes to see life from her per­spec­tive. “If you think your tod­dler is mis­be­hav­ing be­cause she is feel­ing sad or left out, calm these feel­ings first. Give her a hug and, when she is calm, ex­plain why what she is do­ing is wrong,” he says. “It’s more lov­ing, but also more ef­fec­tive. An overly emo­tional child will not be able to un­der­stand what you are try­ing to teach her.”

Work out your trig­gers

“Ev­ery par­ent has cer­tain things that cause them to over­re­act,” Daniel says. “A small prob­lem presents it­self, but you are al­ready rac­ing ahead to worry about the fu­ture or re­mem­ber­ing some­thing neg­a­tive from the past. These trig­gers

make it hard for you to un­der­stand where your child is com­ing from. For ex­am­ple, per­haps you were dis­ci­plined harshly for table man­ners as a child. If your child drops food on the floor, pause be­fore you re­act to what’s hap­pened and ask your­self: ‘Is my re­sponse ap­pro­pri­ate?’”

Be con­sis­tent

“If you feel like you’re at the end of your tether, try to re­mem­ber that your child’s brain is change­able,” Daniel says. “This com­plex up­stairs part of the brain won’t be fully formed un­til she is in her mid-20s. The lessons you are try­ing to teach might not sink in to­day but be­ing con­sis­tent and giv­ing pos­i­tive dis­ci­pline will even­tu­ally help her de­velop.”

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