Tag Archives: parenting

Couple with Young Kids

Dear Couple with Young Kids,

You are in one of the most difficult times of marriage.  Sure, you have those moments when your kids are so adorable that you could both burst with joy, but typically, those are moments amidst the daily grind of life.  You might notice that you parent very differently from each other.  Often one parent believes that the other is too lenient and should just lay down the law!  Or, you may see your partner as too strict and insensitive.  There will be times when you may even wonder if you like each other; this is normal.  Feelings can change moment by moment but the need for love is shared by both of you all the time.

Couple With Kids

When you don’t have time to be creative, rest or be alone, it is natural to feel resentful.  You might look at your partner and think they have it easier than you as they walk out the door to work with adults in an organized environment.  Or maybe you wish you could have time at home to hang out with the kids all day.   The truth is, you are both working hard, it just looks different.  Try to avoid feeling competitive about time, soon enough you will have time, this is just a phase.  How many people tell you to enjoy it while you can because kids grow up so fast!    Doesn’t your sleep-deprived body just want to kick them?  But…it’s true.  Acceptance of where you are at with the wisdom to know it will change soon enough can bring about a sense of peace.

You might find that you don’t talk to each other much anymore.  When this happens the glue of the relationship can dry up.  You need that glue to stick!  Your children will benefit if you take some of the focus off of them and direct it back to each other.  How do you stay connected? If it’s too complicated, it won’t happen.  Keep it simple, but do it!  If you feel so resentful that you aren’t sure that you want to connect, remember that distancing never helps, it just creates more misunderstandings.  If there are important issues to deal with, deal with them!  Get help if you need to.   

There are three legs to the milking stool:  Self Care, Couple Care and Child Care.  How are you finding balance?

Be a GEM – Good Enough Mother

Be a GEM, a good enough mother.  Parenting is no place for perfectionism.  The longer you hang onto high standards, appearances and raising perfect little angels, the more you will suffer.  You might have a strong inner critic who holds that bar way too high.

Parenting children is an experience that changes you from the inside out.  Nothing in life compares to the love, fatigue, frustration or guilt you feel when you are a parent.   To add to the intensity of emotions is the fact that your basic needs don’t get met.  Your sleep is interrupted.  You can’t relax and eat a meal without little ones getting up and down.

Who would have thought that going to the smallest room of your house where you used to sit in solitude is now a public space?  Multi-tasking at a whole new level!

You might find yourself saying or doing things that you don’t feel great about.  This happens.  Let yourself feel healthy guilt, which motivates change but don’t go to shame.  Guilt says, “What I did was unacceptable.”  Shame says, “I’m unacceptable.” Watch that thought. It just isn’t true.

While your circumstances won’t be changing anytime soon, your way of thinking can. 

  • Your children will give you their most demanding behaviour because they have their strongest bond with you, not because you are a bad mom.
  • You will have times when you don’t feel loving simply because your self-care is absent.
  • It might look like other parents have it all together, they don’t.
  • You will have times when you just don’t know how to handle your kids, that is normal.
  • It’s not selfish to take time to yourself when possible, even if you do nothing.
  • A messy house is a sign that somebody lives there.
  • Saying “good enough” is not lazy; it saves energy for things that matter.
  • When your kids are acting like kids, you probably aren’t being judged and if you are, tell yourself, “It is none of my business what you think of my kids or me.”

While pain is a part of life, suffering doesn’t have to be.  We suffer when mistaken thinking creeps into our life circumstances.  If you hold the bar too high, it could be that your inner critic is taking over.   Fire her! Okay, so she will never totally disappear, just don’t give her permission to run the show.  Tell her… you are a good enough mom.

To Discipline or Disciple? – Cut it Out!

What is discipline?  One definition is to obtain obedience by using punishment and reward?  If you think that word still fits, you might want to, Cut it Out!  It might be time for a new word or at least a new twist to that word. Another view of discipline is to teach in such a way that encourages self-discipline. In that case the word needs to change to disciple.  To disciple somebody means that we mentor them by modeling respect, self-discipline and maturity: they become our disciple when they want to emulate us.  This requires awareness of our emotional states and the impact they have on our children.  Healthy mentorship also means we have clarity around our own personal boundaries and the boundaries of others.  To disciple also means recognizing that along with how we behave we must be accountable for how we communicate. To Discipline or Deciple?

Words are powerful and we can easily harm our kid’s self-esteem by labeling them, making assumptions or putting them down.  Or even when we praise them for doing something we want rather than encouraging them to develop internal values and goals.   When this happens, our kids lose touch with the ability to learn what we might actually be trying to teach them and more importantly, are derailed from the natural course of development of conscience and responsibility. Likewise, when we don’t actively listen to our children we are role modeling what not to do!  If your kids don’t listen to you start by showing them what listening actually looks like.

Effective communication is not about a set of skills and something that you “do”.  It is a way of “being” and having an awareness of boundaries.  What issue belongs to who?  Do I really have to fix this person’s feelings?  Are they responsible for how I feel and do I blame them?  Do I allow myself to project my own fearful thoughts onto them?  When we can get clear with the deeper part of communication then the skills come to us easily.    Allow yourself to have well intentioned, messy communication.  If the skill takes over, we lose our connection because we are in our head.

So keep learning and growing yourself.  Somebody needs to disciple our children!

Cut It Out Articles

The “Cut It Out” articles by Dr. Allison Rees are short, weekly one page articles that you can print and stick up on the fridge!

The Greeting Ritual

How do we connect with our teens when we barely see them because they’re so busy with their teenage social lives?  We stockpile all kinds of questions, concerns and reminders, and we blurt them out whenever we have the chance, as we see our kids in passing. Gordon Neufeld and other psychologists and educators promote the idea of “connecting before directing”, suggesting that we can’t actually guide our children unless we have a relationship with them.  This is also the basis of our approach in LIFE Seminars.

Dr. Yurgelun-Todd discovered a scientific reason for developing a connection with our kids.  She monitored the brains of adult and teen volunteers while they were asked to discern the emotion in a series of pictures of frightened faces.  While all the adults identified the emotion of fear correctly, most of the teenagers saw the faces as angry.  When examining the brain scans, Todd found that the teenagers were using a different part of their brain from the adults when reading images.  Adults processed these images with the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain; teens processed them with the amygdala, the instinctual, emotional part of the brain that is linked to primal feelings such as fear and rage. These emotions can trigger a “fight, flight or freeze” reaction.

So imagine what goes on when there is tension in the parent/child relationship and the only windows of time together are when we pick our kids up in the car or wake them up in the morning.  What is the teen’s experience? They see our face, which might look concerned or afraid, but they see anger. They hear our concerns as complaints.  Now they’re in that defensive position where they don’t care what we think or say, they only want to protect themselves.  This can be overwhelming for the teen, and they really can’t help this, it is immaturity of the brain combined with hormones!

Connecting with Teenagers

When parenting my teens, I felt the need to put together this information about the brain with what I know about the need for connection.  I devoted myself to something I called “The Greeting Ritual”.  Whenever I made contact with one of my kids, either when they came home from work or school or when I picked them up in the car, I would refrain from asking questions, complaining or talking about anything that could be seen as negative for ten minutes.  I would be positive or neutral.  I lovingly unplugged from my agenda to guide, direct and reform my kids.

My first experience was picking my very social 16-year-old daughter up at a friend’s just a little later on a Friday night than I would have liked.  I wasn’t sure whether I could stop myself from saying something that would be taken the wrong way because just about everything in our relationship was at that stage.  I decided to stuff bubble gum in my mouth, actually two pieces of Hubba Bubba, the big stuff.  I then made sure that I had something interesting playing on my car stereo, a little Frank Zappa which seemed like a good distraction.  I was armed and ready for the greeting ritual.

I will always remember that look my daughter had when she’d walk toward the car, kind of sour, cold and ready to do battle.  The first time was tough because Frank led her to stick her IPOD in both ears.  But hey, we didn’t talk and I looked happy, that was a shift.  That worked really well for her.  After a few days I noticed that she looked different walking to the car.  She didn’t have that look of dread and actually seemed more relaxed.  I soon noticed that if I just stayed neutral and pleasant, she would start to talk about her concerns regarding school.  That gave me a chance to listen and support her without taking over.   If I did have something to say, it seemed to be better received once we had that initial connection.

It helped when my husband bought into this idea as well.  I remember him walking through the front door late at night with my daughter. I expected a wave of negative energy but instead, they were laughing, she said goodnight and that was it.  Peering over my bifocals from my book I asked him why they were so cheerful.  “The greeting ritual” was his response.  “I felt like lecturing her about not calling earlier but I didn’t say anything.  Before I knew it she told me about her night and how she and her friend stayed with another friend until she got safely on the bus.  How could I get mad about that?”

I also focused on this when my son would come home from work.  I was concerned about him and knew he was struggling but my anxiety was only interfering with his confidence.  I avoided the questions about his day and gave him a chance to unwind and relax.  This was really about me harnessing my own anxiety and becoming less intrusive both with my son and my daughter.  It was a practical way to put relationship first and it seemed to build up some trust for both of the kids. That little bit of conscious connection helped them feel calm and helped me to practice some self-restraint.  It gave all of us an opportunity to have a little calmness during times that felt a little strained.  This was a small, manageable shift in behavior that led to steady positive changes in our relationships.

So – the essence of the greeting ritual is greeting our teenage kids pleasantly rather than overwhelming them with questions and advice when we have a chance to see them.  Try it – it can make a huge difference in our relationship with them.

Pulling the Plug on Power Struggles

As our children go through the significant transition from child to teenager, most of them produce some interesting behaviours. Criticizing or shutting out parents, defiance, mouthiness, doing things to irritate you, the list goes on. It’s important for parents to understand what these behaviours really are rather than simply label them as disrespectful. In their move toward independence our kids are teaching us to treat them differently. This is individuation at work, teens are learning to handle life’s stress and pressure on their own and with their friends support rather than their family’s. A lot of needless power struggles can erupt when we take this behaviour personally.

When teens lose their heads or act poorly, they don’t need to deal with parental panic. They need parents who are strong enough to deal with their emotional struggles. Lectures on respect and moral values don’t usually go too far at this stage. Better to model self-control and remember to breathe deeply: in through the nose, out through the mouth.

When my daughter was 14, I expressed that I was feeling hurt by something she had said. Her response was, “I’m a teenager, Mom, I’m not supposed to be thinking of your feelings all the time. Just ignore me when I act like this. (Yes, she really said that.) Ignoring some of these typical behaviours is not being a neglectful parent. It is important to see them as part of a stage and not take them personally. This can require an incredible amount of self-discipline.

When behaviours cross so far over our boundaries that they can’t be ignored, we need to give ourselves time to think and cool down. When stress and anxiety are high and anger (ours or our teen’s) escalates to the point of no return, we only have one good choice: disengage. Get out instead of having to prove that we are right. Do not come up with consequences in the heat of the moment as this can devastate our teen and send him running out the door. Effective consequences are never born out of anger. Waiting until we feel calm will give us time to be effective and fair.

When it comes to teaching responsibility, a lot of great parenting is about what we don’t do. Not nagging and not rescuing kids from their responsibilities and the natural consequences of their choices is doing something powerful. In our children’s younger years we take time to teach them and give them feedback and guidance until they know how to do tasks comfortably. But once they have been taught, love means pulling back. In letting go of teen issues (such as hygiene, diet, bedrooms, laundry, homework, choice of friends, clothing and money) we give our teens a chance to experience real life learning, including small failures and how to recover from them.

When we back off from some behaviour and from issues that are our kids’ responsibility, we remove a lot of power struggles in the family. This gives us more room to maintain our own boundaries and deal with family issues: those behaviours that affect more than one family member, such as respect, contributing to family chores, keeping noises at a comfortable level for everyone, limiting phone use so others can receive calls, privacy, locking up at night, coming home when expected, safety, care of the family car, and using illegal drugs or smoking in the house.

Most family issues can be dealt with through communication. Use non-judgmental language and encourage respectful problem solving; these are powerful tools during the teen years. If we start by talking about feelings and needs rather than by criticizing our teen’s behaviour, we have a much better chance of having a respectful discussion. “I worry when you don’t come home on time. I need some reassurance and need to know that you are safe. Would you please call me and let me know you’re okay?” Some issues will need to be negotiated. Teens need to develop these skills to help them be accountable and to create choices for themselves. Communication can help parents relax and creates more freedom for teens.

Problem solving can work if everybody agrees they want to solve the problem. Family members need to agree to speak respectfully and not interrupt.

Effective Problem Solving Includes:

1) Identifying the issue and sticking to it. Avoid bringing in other issues or bringing up the past. Stick to the point.

2) Identifying everyone’s needs. Listen to your teen first. Make sure you understand exactly what she is saying and how she is feeling. Listen until you really understand your child. Once your teen has been heard, she will be much more receptive to hearing your concerns. Keep it brief and concentrate on your needs and feelings.

3) Brainstorming possible solutions. Have someone (you or your teen) write down all the ideas. Do not judge anything during this time. Just get creative, have some fun and bring in all kinds of ideas.

4) Looking at the pros and cons of each idea and choosing those everyone can live with. Compromise is the key.

5) Putting the plan into action and setting a time to follow up to see how things are working out. Two weeks is usually sufficient.

It might take some time to put all of this into place but the payoff will be well worth the effort. Teens need to know that they can be loved while they separate into their own, unique selves. Take time to enjoy and support your teens, and don’t miss any opportunities to give sincere, positive feedback. Even though he may not show it, your teen wants your acceptance, guidance and approval.

Saying "yes" to the Givens

Sometime during the past school year my fourteen-year-old daughter surprised everyone by announcing that she wanted to go on a family trip across Canada in our thirty year old motor home after all. A year before, when my husband had suggested the same thing, both my daughter and I had scowled at the thought of being stuck in a confined space as a family for weeks on end. Now I was the odd man out, the only one who didn’t want to go. My husband said it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. “Yeah” I thought, “I bet it would be.” An opportunity for what? To be kept awake by everybody snoring? To experience conflict with each other about every little thing? To get stranded in the middle of nowhere? But I was outnumbered and so, with my knees shaking I said “yes” to the trip while crying out “no” to the challenges.

Family Road Trip with Teenagers

Looking back I can say that everything that I was afraid of happened and more. People snored, we had conflict and the motor home broke down in the middle of nowhere. Wouldn’t you think that is just a given with four people driving 13,000 kilometers in a tired and aging RV? Yet something started to occur to me as we made our way across the country. I seemed to have a sense of entitlement that these things shouldn’t happen to me. Where did this come from? I realized that I had a lot of fear and yet I only had so much control. I couldn’t control the other drivers. I couldn’t control the weather conditions or the mechanical breakdowns. I couldn’t make my kids have a good time although I did give them heck if they didn’t look out the window enough. My inflated ego was insisting that things go a certain way and yet reality was about to teach me otherwise. What I really could control was my own level of resistance to life on a road trip and what it would throw at me. I could say, “yes” to the adventure and unearth the treasures that lay beneath.

When it came to sleep, there was a lot more than snoring disturbing me. At one point in Halifax, it rained so hard that our roof developed a major leak right over my daughter’s bed. At two in the morning she ended up having to crawl into my bed. We giggled as we watched the drops of water plunking into pots. Every time my husband reminded us he was trying to sleep, we laughed harder. Wrapped in each other’s arms everything was funny and in that moment there was nothing else. My son slept through it all and his snoring wasn’t an annoyance but a peaceful reminder of his steady nature. This was no tragedy; it was an unexpected moment of joy and closeness.

There were times of conflict yet the beauty of having nowhere to run meant that we either let things go or we talked. A lesson came to me during a state of agitation when I announced that I wouldn’t play mediator or peacekeeper and they would have to sort out their gripes themselves. My son patted me on the head and said, “Good for you mom, it’s about time.” What? I knew he was a foot taller than me but could he really see a part of me that I couldn’t see? So I let go and after that something wonderful happened: I discovered all my interference was really unnecessary. Okay, it was darn right annoying and stopped people from finding their own creative ways to solve problems. When I let go I freed myself from self-imposed suffering. When I could accept conflict it meant I could get on with life rather than getting caught up in how things played out. It was incredibly liberating, for all of us. I developed more faith in my family’s ability to work things out and they did so with humour, warmth and compassion. In this I found equality and a sense of trust within my family.

The lack of breakdowns began to feel like a miracle although we had some problems but nothing that couldn’t be solved with duct tape, twine or a coat hanger. We narrowly escaped tornadoes, were eaten alive by bugs and we even managed to get some airtime when a road came to an unexpected ending. At one point we were stranded in the middle of nowhere because we ran out of propane but rescued by kind hearted people who went out of their way to help us. We were left feeling grateful and humbled by people’s big hearts and willingness to help. There was a sense of connectedness that moved beyond our family and into the air we all breathe together.

We learned that we could make plans expecting to be in control of how the day unfolded but open to the fact that things didn’t always go according to plan. Our comfort began to lie not in what we thought we could control but our commitment to deal with what happened. This was complete freedom because we could be open to life’s challenges without feeling entitled or too weak to endure them. We were ready, and believe me when I say; we toughened up to the givens of a road trip but softened to the nature of being human. In this there was the peace of surrender; not the fear of defeat.

On that road trip I still had a physical and emotional place for myself even though four of us were confined for five weeks within that space. I could still look out the window and acknowledge this was a point in time that would come to an ending. It seemed like life was staring back at me with a reminder that everything changed and nothing lasts forever. I could always be there for myself and I could continue to commit to learning how to love without fear, control and conditions. With every “yes” I say to the challenge I receive more peace, joy and more space in my happy place.

So perhaps somewhat predictably I am saying the road trip was a reflection of the bigger picture. I know there will be “givens” in my life as a parent of teens. I will go through pain and discomfort. I might break down or be shocked by the unexpected. Perhaps if I can hang on to that sweet sense of surrender I can face anything that life has to offer me: not to fight, but to embrace the challenges that will lead me along the heroic journey of being a parent.

What Were You Thinking?

I often joke with parents in my classes about the expression my face has grown accustomed to wearing around my teens. It’s a neutral look, free of judgment and negative emotion. With amazing self-control, it manages to stay there even when I am hearing something that makes me want to scream. That look is there for a really good reason: teens are quick to see or hear a putdown, sense judgment or feel deeply hurt from a lack of trust.

Trust gets complicated during this stage of development and the word seems to take on new meaning. Being completely honest with your parent isn’t always easy for a teen. “Hey mom, dad, I just thought I’d let you know that I’ve siphoned out the vodka bottle a few inches and replaced it with water.” “You want to know my plans? Well, we’ve been planning on MSN for about a week. About 20 of us are meeting at the park and we’re going to get buzzed.” How do you trust a teen when they are lying to you? Especially when you know they are lying? What does trust really mean?

I have concluded that trust has to assume a more philosophical meaning through these years. “Please trust that I want to live, I am planning on keeping myself safe and I know I am loved by my family.” When I am connected to my kids, I can trust them in this way because our relationship is the linchpin between their need for autonomy and my need for reassurance. In order to do this, I need to remember that our relationship comes first. That doesn’t mean that I’m trying to be their best friend but that they know I care, I support them and I have enough self-confidence to set reasonable limits with them. A good relationship also allows room for guidance and discussion.

I am well aware of how fragile this linchpin is. Scary behaviours can appear suddenly with new friends or acquaintances, a drug experience or any number of factors. Often a parent’s initial response to these behaviours is to try to control more, falling back on time-honoured strategies such as long groundings or a complete loss of privileges. But this kind of approach is rarely effective; it serves mainly to force the teen’s behaviour underground and to damage the parent/child relationship.

“What were you thinking?” we might ask a teen who has just done something reckless. Perhaps it’s time we face some scientific facts: adolescent brains are undergoing a huge amount of growth just like the rest of their bodies. It may not surprise you to know that changes in the brain’s frontal lobes: “the part that governs the ability to reason, control impulses, measure risk and practice second thoughts” are the last to mature. While this development may vary from child to child, in general this part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until the late teens or early twenties. Until this takes place, adolescents have more activity around the amygdala, the more primitive “fight or flight” part of the brain and less in the frontal cortex, that rational, logical part. This explains a lot in terms of a teen’s impulsiveness and why parents may (legitimately) feel so much anxiety during this time.

Building Trust with Your Teenager

The world seems to be more complicated today but the developmental needs of teens haven’t changed. They need parents who love them, education and information to help with real life choices. They need respect and encouragement from the adults around them, including teachers, coaches and relatives. Don’t be fooled by a tough looking exterior or rolling eyes. Teens feel deeply hurt by thoughtless comments that come from adults. They are very sensitive to assumptions, putdowns and intrusive comments. Before you speak to a teen, ask yourself “Would I speak to an adult this way?”

When negative emotions pile up inside teens’ heads, it is very difficult for them to be articulate and represent themselves effectively. Most of the teens I counsel need a lot of help with assertiveness. They often bring me their own special look: the one that tends to push people away rather than bring them closer. Most of them need to learn that their needs are valid and that they aren’t horrible people for having them. They also need to develop skills and strategies to build “trust” in the relationship they have with their parents. And they need to hear that it is reasonable for a parent to ask for information and be given reassurance.

Adults also have their work cut out for them. First, we need to express concern from a position of having a need for the teen’s well-being. “I understand there will be alcohol at the party and I feel very concerned about your safety.” We also need to give them limits that are do-able but clear. “I’ll be picking you up at 11:00 and I want to hear from you if your plans change.â” We can also ask teens to tell us how they plan to keep themselves safe and convince us that they are ready for this kind of freedom. “Prove to me that you are ready for this kind of responsibility.” Of course, we may never feel fully convinced that they are ready but shutting down their honesty only puts them in danger. If we are reasonable they will often satisfy their curiosity and find balance between peers and family.

It is much easier for teens to be accountable if they actually experience the rewards that go with it. Teens are often hurt that nobody seems to notice the good stuff they do; be sure to praise your teens for the great decisions they do make. They are making choices all the time but the ones that seem to get our attention are the ones that scare us half to death. While this makes sense, it also means we have to work harder at noticing all the good stuff.

Teach teens that responsibility equals freedom and vice versa. If they come to the plate with respectful negotiation and a track record of accountability, present freedom like a prize. Let them know that representing themselves as truly reliable can only bring more flexibility on your part. Again, tell them if you feel scared or concerned but make sure you express it from a place of love rather than as a criticism or judgment of who they are.

Temper Tantrums

Many normal, wonderful preschoolers have intense and frightening temper tantrums as a way of dealing with frustration, anger and telling the adults in their lives that they aren’t the boss of them!

I remember when my son was about three, we were in a kid’s clothing store. Jarryd was playing on his own with some toys when another boy came up to join him. Jarryd freaked out and started screaming and throwing toys. I had to pick him up and carry him out of the store, my own mother trailed behind with my new baby, Lexy. Jarryd pulled on the skin of my neck so hard that he drew blood. My mother watched in disbelief as she felt completely helpless to do anything at that moment to help. When I look back, I can see that he was going through a phase that seemed to last for months. The intensity of the tantrums and their frequency did pass but if someone came up to me to tell me it was just a stage, I might have had my own temper tantrum. It was scary and I thought for sure that I was raising a “future criminal.”

Now I can look back and see the contributing factors. Jarryd has a cautious approach and he liked to play on his own or know somebody well before playing with them. We had a new baby and he was feeling the stress from that. Anytime he was tired or hungry he could easily be triggered into a very intense fit of anger. This really was a phase and there wasn’t much I could do to stop the tantrums other than protect him and give him space to cool down.

I am frequently asked what parents should to when their children are engaging in such behaviours as tantrums. My answer is that it is what you don’t do. When I look back at those experiences I am grateful that I didn’t hit him, scream at him or join him in a tantrum of my own. I avoided putting him down and making him feel like a bad person when the tantrums were over. I didn’t withhold my love or hold it against him. Sometimes I needed space to cool down so I could control my behaviour and avoid doing those things. Discipline meant, self-discipline and having to stay as calm as I could.

We may not be able to connect with our children in the heat of the moment but chances are that your ability to teach your child anything during those adrenaline peaks would simply backfire. You teach your children about emotions, and expressing them appropriately over time through your role modeling and through your connection with them. In that connection, you can identify what needs aren’t being met or where their stress might be. In that connection with you they can express more subtle feelings and start to build a feeling vocabulary that will be used more and more as they mature.

This takes time and when children are very young they have difficulty with feelings. My son couldn’t come up to me and say, “Hey mom, this kid is making me feel uncomfortable. By the way, I feel stressed about the new baby too.” Even being able to tell me he was hungry or tired would have been a tall order back then. So instead of articulating feelings, they feel them! They scream, pinch, kick, bite, and throw things.

Today, my son is coming up to his sixteenth birthday. He is a gentle, kind hearted person who wouldn’t dream of hurting anybody. He is still fairly intense and still feels more comfortable in familiar settings with familiar people. If somebody could have handed me a crystal ball and given me a peak, I would have relaxed and just gone about the business of loving him and helping him get his needs met. I may not have smiled through the tantrums but at least I would know that he was going to be just fine, not a criminal and not an aggressive, mean person.

How to Deal with Temper Tantrums

What can you do?

* Make sure your child is safe and free from harm.
* Stay calm and stand firm if this is a reaction to not getting their way.
* Remind yourself that it is important for your child to learn that she can’t have everything she wants when she wants it.
* Praise positive behaviours with specific feedback.
* Explain limits and expectations when feelings are calm and people aren’t angry.
* Use time out as a cooling down period for either yourself or your child.
* Ignore the tantrum as much as you can.
* Teach your child about their feelings and how to handle anger as they mature.
* Be a good role model yourself.
* Look for triggers to behaviours; hunger, fatigue, time of day, place, events, temperament or how your behaviour affects your child.