emotional intelligence

My kids being a rascal....or is he?


Phew... It's normal!
I had a phone consult with a mom the other day. She was concerned about her son and his behaviors. We talked about each one of them in detail only to discover that what he was doing was not "naughty", in any way, but developmentally appropriate and normal at his age.
Yes, your 3 year old is…testing boundaries, saying no..a lot, throwing tantrums, saying a lot of “I do it” in one moment and “carry me” the next. This is normal!
Hearing this was very reassuring to this mom, and then we were able to speak about how she could support her son’s need for independence while still having clear boundaries for him.
This got me thinking... how many other parents are struggling with the same challenges, thinking their child’s behaviour needs to be “stopped, or changed” but not realizing that it may be developmentally appropriate?
According to the research I read, about half of parents believe that children are capable of self-control and other developmental milestones much earlier than they actually are.

Here are 3 behaviours that are just your kid being a kid…

  1. Kids don’t have a lot of control over impulses, especially in toddler hood. The part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) that where we learn to control our impulses doesn't fully mature until we reach the age of 25.
  2. They can't curb their big feelings. We as adults have learned to do that, we can suppress big feelings, hide them, pretend we are okay when we are actually hurt on the inside. We have developed all kinds of compensation patterns and ways of defending our tender hearts. Kids just let it out, we can learn from their unfettered emotions!
  3. Kids are hard wired to play...and move their bodies. This could look to you like they are misbehaving by constantly moving when you are trying to put their shoes on, or smearing their breakfast all over their face. Truth is, they are just being kids....They have a developmental need for unstructured play (which is how our brains learn), and its how they make sense of the world and integrate their experiences.

So, the next time your kid throws themselves on the floor with a meltdown over something seemingly insignificant in your eyes, or runs away from you wanting a game of chase when you are trying to brush their teeth, just remember.."they are not being naughty, or bratty", they are fulfilling nature's plan, and that is to be a kid and make everything a game.
Try joining them in their play, you may just connect with them, and it will probably make those tasks that need to get done happen a little easier!

3 Ways to support true independence in your child

3 Ways to support true independence in your child


1.     Encourage their dependence early on. While this may seem counter intuitive, it is the paradox of parenting. We are born extremely dependent on our caregivers to take care of us and fill our needs. The fact is that caregivers who habitually respond to the needs of the baby before the baby gets distressed, preventing crying, are more likely to have children who are independent than the opposite (e.g., Stein & Newcomb, 1994).

Once we have allowed them to depend on us in every way, and filled their cup over and over and over, they will very naturally start to want to do things on their own. “Me do it myself!” is inevitable and it is nature’s way. It’s built into our biology. But first they must be able to rest in our love, rest in being taken fully taken care of.

2.     Trust them: We need to trust our children in their entirety. Trust that they will find their way given the right conditions. When we grow lettuce in our garden from seed, we trust that if we give it the proper soil conditions, the right placement of sun, enough water and love, it will grow into its fullness. We need to learn to trust their failures and successes, their weaknesses and their strengths, their “ugly” emotions and their beautiful ones. We trust they will find their way through it all with support and guidance from us. We can’t “teach” independence, only provide the proper conditions for it to unfold at the right time developmentally.

3.     Know when to back off: It is our job to keep our children safe and protected, but as your child gets older we can invite healthy risk taking. Maybe you refrain from swooping in every time they hurt themselves. Hang back a bit and wait. They might get up on their own and brush themselves off. When we rescue too quickly we deny them the opportunity to see if they can navigate a situation that has some challenge. Let them take risks, how else do they learn what they are capable of, and what the edges are for them? When they do something risky like climb a tree for the first time without us hovering; "I just did that all by myself!",  it builds a sense of confidence and healthy esteem.

When we can do our best to meet their needs, we create an environment of dependence. This creates a feeling of safety, trust and security. This is the secure base from which dependence is outgrown. We need to trust our children and nature's plan. They are developmentally hardwired to naturally move into independence in their own time, in their own way.






8 Alternatives to Using Punishing Discipline with Your Child

We all lose our cool and have our limits. Our children will inevitably push us to those edges, where we are tempted to react, say or do something that we later regret, try one of these instead...

  1. Take a pause yourself: disengage yourself, sit down, feel your feet on the floor, take 5 deep breaths and try again. No good will come from us in 'react mode' with our nervous system in fight, flight.

  2. Use Humour: sometimes you can completely shift the energy by using humour. Stamp your feet and yell 'I'm so mad'....your child will probably laugh, and so will you!

  3. Connect before you redirect: instead of saying, 'put on your shoes were going right now', come join them in their space, see what it is they are doing, take a moment with that, make a comment about it and then redirect their attention to the next task. You'll be much more likely to get cooperation.

  4. Find a way to say yes: 'you can't play with the bath toys in the toilet, but we can use a bucket in the sink and take those dinosaurs for a swim'.

  5. Don't sweat the small stuff: Is it really a big deal if they don't wear their socks in their boots for that errand to the store? the natural consequence of that is possibly a blister, which will naturally teach them to perhaps not do that in the future!

  6. Be specific about our requests: if we say clean your room, sometimes that's overwhelming to a child, but saying 'I want you to pick up all your blocks and put them back in that bucket', that can help them to wrap their head around clean-up.

  7. Acknowledge feelings: if your child is frustrated and not cooperating, rather than bypassing their feeling and trying to barrel ahead with the task, name and acknowledge the feeling. 'It looks like you're really frustrated right now Sam, can mommy help you tie your shoe?'

  8. Make whatever you are doing a game: kids respond to fun and games. Made up songs can make clean-up or leaving the house fun, using a stopwatch for older kids for clean-up can make it a game and fun, 'who can put the lego back the fastest'.

Feel free to leave a comment below if you tried something new and it worked!