Too Much Candy for Halloween – what is a parent to do?

This is one of those situations that you should probably discuss BEFORE they go Trick Or Treating – as to take the candy away, now, you’re going to end up the Bad Guy!

But, all is not lost, and there is a teachable moment, left.

  • You can let them eat one piece of candy after every meal until it is gone.
  • The New Rule Is – can be created anytime that is neutral (Example: choose 4 pieces and donate the rest).
  • You can bribe the kids with MONEY – most dentists buy back the candy after Halloween to send to the Troops.
  • You can eat the best candy, tonight, while they are all asleep – and then donating the rest to Operation Gratitude.

Candy Buy Back Halloween

Do what you like, but certainly don’t let your children eat all that candy! Their behavior will not be pretty, they will not be getting quality nutrition and all those empty calories — eeeesh!

Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move toward a better life with new boundaries and more cooperation. Fill out the contact form or book a coaching session.


Your “Bully” Child Hit Her Sibling – AGAIN

Punishing children when they hit each other is counter-productive, because it leaves them resentful (and perhaps frightened), and all those feelings will burst out in even more aggression toward their sibling, later. But most parents feel an urgent need to punish when a child hits. And research shows that punishment does not diminish aggression, but often increases it. So, what are you supposed to do when everyone is crying and you know already know what happened and who was the aggressor? What if you already know who the “Bully” is, in your family?

Going through all the steps will repair future rivalry and will make violence less likely, eventually.

Most parents would rely on behavior-modification (some sort of punishment, hoping that she’ll remember not to hurt again or she’ll get the same punishment, again). This can take the form of a reward being taken away, a time in, a time out or a spanking. Regardless of what consequence is used after aggression, the “thinking”  part of your child’s brain wasn’t engaged, during the upset, so she will likely forget, again, during the next upset. The bottom line: when your “bully” child is in a state of emotional dysregulation, she needs your help – maybe even desperately.

So, here are your steps, to help:

  1. First things, first. Regain your own composure; stay calm. Train yourself to simply stay calm while you minister to both your hurt child and your “bully” child. You want your child to learn compassion and kindness (and I know you don’t want any more hurting!). So, model compassion.
  2. Reflective Listening IS the answer. It seems like permissive parenting, but in fact, Emotion Coaching addresses the underlying issue behind her aggression: your child’s fear, her jealousy, her abandonment or her selfish feelings. You can even passionately state her feelings “I can see that you are VERY upset about the dump truck – it is your VERY favorite toy and now it is broken. I am right here. I see how upset you are. I will keep you and brother safe.” While you say her feelings for her, passionately, you may even notice her calming down.
  3. Once you’ve helped her name the feeling, you can move on to giving her her wishes in fantasy.  Ask her to tell you what the perfect world would look like. If she cannot put it into words, do it for her: “You wish you never had to share toys. You wish you were the ONLY child.”
  4. Once the calm down has started, remember that this isn’t a “Teachable Moment.” And, if your “other” child is still hurting, you may still want to punish to teach. But, if you can resist blaming, she’ll be more able to “fix” it, take responsibility for her actions and understand the feelings that led up to it to prevent it, next time. Helping her get to this place of Self Discipline is what will prevent her from repeating the behavior. Self Discipline doesn’t work when it’s imposed from outside with blame and shame.
  5. Finally, you restate and reinforce the limit, by helping her see a way to fix it, to make up for it and even a ReDo, if necessary. Brainstorming solutions of “fixing it” with your child and then having an Instant Replay will help that memory be the memory that she remembers the next time she feels those emotions.

Children do well if they can and if given the chance (without blaming or punishing), they will want to redeem themselves. Going through all the steps will repair future rivalry and will make violence less likely, eventually. I realize that going through these steps takes a lot more time than counting to three or giving her a Time Out, but it helps your child become a child who can manage her emotions and who can figure out the steps to repair the damage when she doesn’t.

Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move toward a calmer way of being.

Can’t Calm Down? Try this, Mama!

Your brain gets flooded with hot anger when your preteen screams “No!” and slams her door. You see red when your three-year old spits at you and screams “I hate you!”  How can you be so angry when you love your child so completely and deeply? (if you want to know how the brain works when it is angry, read this). The question is, how do you, as the parent, calm down when you are about to have a 2-year old’s temper tantrum?

How can you ask your children to exhibit self-control, when you can’t? How can you teach them to recognize their emotions and move through them, if you grab your child, spank your child, or scream at them when they act impulsively? Better yet, what if you are upset at your son hitting his brother and not using his words? What example does it give if you grab him roughly and scream at him?

Let’s get this out of the way: spanking isn’t a good option. It just doesn’t fit into today’s parenting strategies and it simply doesn’t help a child become their best self. Spanking sometimes even makes behavior worse (because the child feels misunderstood, wants to get revenge, or becomes even more flooded with their own feelings that they aren’t able to deal with). Most parents that I coach feel very guilty after spanking, like there was probably a better way to handle the moment. And….they feel very disconnected from their child after that kind of a blow up and recovery is awkward. Even if parents just “lose it,” and yell, parents hate their words and actions, in the heat of anger.

Here is a short list of ideas for YOU to calm yourself down, before you ask your child to calm themselves and work through their feelings.  Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move to a calmer way of being.

Calm Down, Mama, Amanda Deverich, Master Parenting


Reinforce these manners before school starts

This list of 25 manners to teach your child was compiled from the article: 25 Manners Kids Should Know by David Lowry, Ph.D. from Parents Magazine. Today, Master Parenting takes it a bit further – how do you Prepare For Success and reinforce manners in your child, after you have “taught” them the rule.

new rule calm black boy

“Your child’s rude ‘tude isn’t always intentional. Sometimes kids just don’t realize it’s impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don’t always have the time to focus on etiquette. But if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you’ll raise a polite, kind, well-liked child.

  • When asking for something, say “Please.”
  • When receiving something, say “Thank you.”
  • Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.
  • If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation
  • When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later
  • The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
  • Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome
  • When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are
  • When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had
  • Knock on closed doors — and wait to see if there’s a response — before entering
  • When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling
  • Be appreciative and say “thank you” for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect
  • Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant
  • Don’t call people mean names
  • Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel
  • Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best
  • If you bump into somebody, immediately say “Excuse me.”
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public
  • As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else
  • If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say “yes,” do so — you may learn something new
  • When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile
  • When someone helps you, say “thank you.” That person will likely want to help you again
  • Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do
  • Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary
  • Don’t reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed

Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed — for all the right reasons.”

As you are mastering this parenting thing, I suggest that you play the “What if…” game with your children. You’ll find that children enjoy scenario games and it helps them visualize themselves making good decisions, without it being in front of their peers or classmates. For instance, “What if you and the teacher reached the door at the same time; what would you do?” Then, when they DO the manner appropriately or answer appropriately, make sure to descriptively praise.

I know these last days, before school starts, can be stressful. If you need some support, I am here!

Raising Emotionally Healthy Children – by helping them understand their brain and how it works

Guest Post: Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids & Teens: ‘Anger & How to be the Boss of Your Brain’ by Hey Sigmund
Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids: Anger and How to Be the Boss of Your Brain

We’re wired to feel. Not just the good feelings but the messy, sweaty, crazy, fierce ones too. Feelings drive our aliveness, our relationships, our decisions and our humanity. It’s how we connect, love, decide who’s right, who’s not, what’s good for us and what we should steer clear of. Most importantly, feelings are the clue that something isn’t right and needs to be dealt with. They direct us to what we need to find balance.

  • Sadness is a cue to reach out to our tribe for emotional support
  • Happiness tells us to keep doing what we’re doing because it’s doing us good
  • Fear is a warning and readies us for fight, flight or freeze.
  • Then there’s anger. If it’s not managed well, anger will break hearts, relationships, lives and people. If managed well, anger can be protective and motivating. Plenty of good things have happened throughout history because people got angry enough to make a difference. 

All feelings are important and have a place in our lives. If they didn’t, thousands of years of evolution would have got rid of the useless ones by now. We can pretend that uncomfortable feelings don’t exist, but that won’t make them go away. Denial buries feelings somewhere deep inside us and when little seeds are buried, they grow. The more children are able recognize what they’re feeling, the more they can experiment with an effective response and the less control those feelings will have over them.  It’s never feelings that cause trouble, it’s what we do with them. Here’s how to explain anger to kids and teens …

Explaining Anger to Kids & Teens.

Tell them why it’s important. Every feeling we feel has a really good reason for being there, even anger. It might not always spring to life at the best moment, but its reason for being there will always be a good one. The problem is never the feeling, but how that feeling dealt with. Feelings cause trouble when they sneak up from behind and grab on, bear hug style. When that happens, it can feel like that feeling has complete control, which it kind of does for a while. The key to being emotionally savvy and not being barreled along by intense, powerful feelings is to turn and face them, feel them, and bring them back under control.

Anger has a number of good reasons for showing up.

  1. It lets people know what you’re feeling (without you saying a word!) You can usually tell when someone is angry just by looking – and people can tell the same thing when the angry one is you. The way your face looks when your angry, and the way your body expands to looks taller and stronger can be a warning to others not to come too close. It can also let people know they’ve upset you.
  2. It’s energizing. Anger feels bad, but what would feel even worse is being in a bad situation and not realizing it, or realizing it and not having the energy or motivation to change it. Anger helps us to know when something isn’t right.  When something happens to make us angry, the brain releases chemicals (oxygen, adrenalin, hormones (particularly cortisol – the stress hormone)) to fuel our body and give us the energy to something about the problem.
  3. It stops intense, difficult feelings taking over.  Anger is the only emotion that never exists on its own. There is always another, more powerful emotion underlying it.  When an emotion feels too intense, or when the environment feels unlikely to support that emotion, anger is a way to stop that difficult feeling taking over. Some common underlying emotions are fear, grief, insecurity, jealousy, shame. When these feelings feel too intense, anger can be a way to hold them down until the intensity of them dies down a little, or until the environment feels safer and more able to respond and help us feel better. Anger can be pretty handy like that, provided it doesn’t become a habitual response. All emotions are valid, and it’s important not to shut any down for too long. Being able to recognise, acknowledge and feel the full spectrum of emotions is an important part of healthy living.

Explain why anger feels the way it does.

Here’s how to explain it to the younger ones in your life …

  • Anger is an emotional and physical response. When something happens to make you angry, your brain thinks it has to protect you from danger so it releases chemicals – oxygen, hormones and adrenaline – to fuel your body so it can fight the threat or run from it. Here’s what that feels like:
  • Your breathing changes from slow deep breaths to fast little breaths. This is because your brain has told your body to stop using up so much oxygen on strong breaths and to send it to your muscles so they can protect you by running or fighting (even though we all know that fighting is a bad idea!)
  • Your heart speeds up to get the oxygen around your body so it can be strong, fast and powerful.
  • Your muscles feel tight. This is because your brain has sent fuel (hormones, oxygen and adrenaline) to your arms (in case they need to fight the danger – but you probably won’t want to do that) and to your legs in case they need to run from it (okay – you might want to do that.)
  • You might feel shaky or sick in your tummy. This is because your digestive system – the part of the body that gets the nutrients from the food you eat – shuts down so that the fuel it was using to digest your food can be used by your arms and legs in case you have to fight or flee.
  • You might feel like crying. Crying helps to relieve stress – it’s the body’s way of calming itself down.
  • You might feel like yelling (to fight the ‘danger’) or running away (to escape it).
  • You might feel like hurting someone. This is really normal, but remember that if you hurt someone with your words or your body, it will always land you in trouble. An angry brain is great at fuelling you up to be strong, fast and powerful, but not so great at thinking things through. Don’t believe it when it tells you to fight or hurt people or things. Here’s why …

What happens in your brain when you get angry?

Brains have been practicing anger for millions of years, so they’re pretty excellent at getting you ready to protect yourself from whatever it is that’s made you angry. When something happens to make you angry, your brain fuels you up quickly and automatically to respond. The problem is that an angry brain isn’t always the smartest brain and just because it’s telling you to respond a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the best idea.

Your brain tries to make you strong, fast and powerful – kind of like a superhero – but anger can make people make really dumb decisions. When you’re angry, your intelligence drops by about 30%, so you’ve got awesome speed and strength, but your brain won’t be thinking so clearly. That’s a dangerous combo and if you don’t get a hold of your brain and set it on the right track again, you could end up more of a villain than a superhero. There’s nothing wrong with feeling angry. Everyone get angry from time to time. The difference is that heroes are thinkers and they don’t hurt people. The not-so-heroic make silly decisions and even if they don’t mean to, they hurt people along the way.

There’s a simple difference between the two and it’s about which part of the brain is in charge. Here’s how to make sure you’ve got the right part working for you.

Try this … Make a fist so your fingers are curled over your thumb. Now, as explained by neuropsychiatrist Dr Dan Siegel, imagine that this fist is your brain. At the top are the higher parts of the brain that help you think clearly. (In your real brain, it’s just behind your forehead). This part of the brain is responsible for reasoning, using all the information you have to make good decisions, your creativity, and your intuition (listening to your heart and that little voice inside you that tends to know what’s best for you).

Then there’s the lower part of your brain. This part helps to control the physical processes that keep you alive – breathing, blood pressure, seeing, hearing, tasting, listening, sleeping. It’s also is responsible for instinctive behavior, which is when you respond to things automatically, super-quickly and without really thinking. Instinctive responses keep you safe. If there’s, say, a lion coming at you, you could be in a bit of trouble if you had to take time to think about whether or not you should get out of the way.

The bottom part of the brain responds to things without a lot of thought. It’s automatic, instinctive and impulsive. It’s great when there’s real danger, but not so great when situations need more thought and consideration – which is most of the time. This is why you need the higher brain to be in charge. When it’s involved in behavior, you can be reasonable, flexible and thoughtful. You’ll still do everything you need to do to keep yourself alive, but you’ll do them sensibly and when you actually need to.

When you get angry, the lower brain takes over. It gets so activated that it floods the higher brain and stops it from working. Without your thinking, sensible higher brain, your lower brain can get up to some crazy stuff.

Remember that the lower brain does things without thinking, so it can get a bit reckless when the higher brain isn’t in control of it. The part that co-ordinates your higher brain and your lower brain exists behind your forehead. When you get angry, that area stops working and the higher brain disconnects from the lower brain.

handbrainRemember your closed fist? Start to open it (but keep your thumb where it is).  See how the top part of your brain (pretend it’s your fingers) is kind of disconnected from the bottom part? This is what happens when you get angry. Of course, your real brain doesn’t come apart but what does happen is that the higher brain no longer has control of your lower brain, which becomes free to do whatever it wants. This is when things can get a bit ugly. You might yell, scream and feel like you want to break people or things. Until you bring your higher brain back to the control deck, the lower brain will be doing all sorts of things that could land you in trouble. You feel out of control, it’s because you kind of are – out of the control of your thinking, sensible higher brain, to be exact.

There are plenty of ways to reconnect your higher brain to your lower brain, and bring your anger under the control of a brain that is sensible, smart, creative, and able to come up with great ways to respond to things.

What to do when you’re angry.

Anger can be a great thing when it motivates you to make a difference in a ways that don’t hurt anyone. The truth is that when you hurt someone else, it will always end up hurting you eventually. You don’t want to be that person who just goes round letting the angry, impulsive, reckless part of your brain making you do dumb things – you really don’t want that. Anger can be a great thing. It can be the reason you protect your friend or the new kid when the bullies are giving him a hard time. It can be the reason you put wrong things right – but only if you have control of your brain while you do it. Otherwise it’s a mess. A dreadful mess. You could hurt someone’s body, someone’s feelings, their things, and you can do or say things that can’t ever be put right.

Be the boss of your brain and you’ll be the boss of your anger. You can use it to do awesome things – to motivate you, inspire you and to make wrong things right, but seriously, you’ve gotta be the boss of your brain for that to happen.

You don’t necessarily want to get rid of your anger – it might be trying to tell you something important. What you want to do is control it. You need to reconnect the thinking, flexible, higher part of your brain back to the impulsive, unthinking lower brain. When that happens, you’ll be back in control, you won’t be hurting anyone (you might still feel like you want to but you’ll know how dumb that would be and you’ll be able to stop yourself), you won’t be yelling and you’ll be able to make clear decisions and find great solutions. Here’s how to do that:
  1. Breathe. Sounds simple – and it is – but there’s a reason for that.

    There’s a reason we practice breathing every single moment of every single day. The first is that if we don’t we die. The second is that when you breathe your brain releases chemicals that calm down the angry feelings. Anger goes down. Smarts go up.

  2. Take a walk.

    Walk away and go somewhere else until you’re brain is back under control. You want to be as smart as you can if you’re having to deal with someone who has ticked you off, and the only way you can do this is to get your brain sorted. It will happen on its own, and it doen’t take long, but sometimes you have to find some space so that can happen.

  3. If you want to be heard, be calm.

    Say what you need to say in a calm, clear voice. When you yell people won’t hear your message. All they’ll hear is that you’ve lost your mind, which, if you’re angry, you kind of have. Get it back and you’ll say things that make a lot more sense because you’ll have your full brain with all of your smarts, not 30% less.

  4. Get active.

    Go for a fast walk, a run, a ride, or turn your music up and dance really hard – anything that gets you moving. Getting active will help your body to get rid of the ‘angry’ chemicals that your brain has fuelled you with to help you fight or run away. If you don’t fight or run away, these chemicals can build up and make you feel even worse. It’s easy to mistake them for feeling angrier and angrier, when actually what your feeling is your brain saying, ‘come on – I’ve given you want you need to be fast and strong – use it!’ Being active will burn the chemicals and help to settle your brain again.

  5. Get the energy out.

    Scream into a pillow or kick a ball – go for it – anything that will get the angry energy that’s in you, safely out of you.

  6. Decide on the type of person you’re going to be.

    Using your body or voice to hurt others is never cool. Decide that you’re always going to be better than someone who loses it. If you have to, talk to an adult who can help you. For sure they would have felt angry before and can talk you through yours. Adults can be pretty great like that.

  7. Give permission to all of your feelings to be there.

    Anger is the feeling we grab onto to keep more difficult, intense feelings under control. Anger never exists on it’s own and it can be really helpful to understand what feeling is beneath it. Breathe into yourself and be open to any other feelings that might be there. Just let it happen. They’ll show themselves to you when you’re calm, still and open to seeing them. When you can find the feeling beneath your anger, your anger will start to ease.

  8. Get to know your triggers. (We all have them!)

    Know the things that tend to make you steam. Are you someone who gets angry more easily when you’re tired? Stressed? Hungry? Once you start to recognise your triggers, you can work towards making sure you  limit those triggers when you can.

Anger is a really normal thing to feel. As with anything, it can be a great thing or a not so great thing. To make it something that’s helpful, it’s important to make sure that your higher brain doesn’t disconnect and leave your lower brain in control of things. Your lower brain loves doing what it wants, and will get you into all sorts of trouble if it’s left in charge. Learning to bring your higher brain back is something that takes practice, but the person who is the boss of his or her brain will always be someone pretty awesome.

Magic Bullet for Children: Rewards and Consequences

The title to this post is actually the old Bait and Switch. Sorry! I believe, thoroughly and completely, that if you do Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice techniques consistently and predictably, that you’ll rarely have to use Rewards and Consequences. But, because you are here, I will give you what you searched for: Rewards & Consequences, that work.

Rewards & Consequences

When you do use Rewards, make sure that you are getting something good, in return:

  • When the homework is done, you get 30 minutes of Screen Time
  • When the dog is fed, you get to go to Johnny’s
  • When you have had 30 minutes of quiet time, you get to play a board game
  • When you have set the table, without being asked, for 7 days in a row, you’ll get your allowance

When you do use Consequences, make sure that your child knew exactly what the consequence was, up front. Don’t claw something back that you have been giving freely:

  • Don’t take away the bedtime book because she didn’t get out of the bath, cooperatively
  • Don’t take away the Screen Time she earned because she is kicking her sister
  • At a neutral time, state the rule, make her tell you the rule in her own words, and practice this many times
  • When she does mess up and earns a consequence, resist the temptation to say, “I told you so,” get angry, or use too many words. Just follow through.

Following through is the most difficult part of giving Consequences to children. We’re angry. We’re frustrated. We cannot believe that we are here, again. But, the calmer you deliver the Consequence, the more that your child will learn. How, you ask? Because, if you are angry when you deliver the Consequence, your child can be angry back, and even blame you. But, if your child receives her just and fairly-given consequence, she did it to herself. The Magic Bullet is using Rewards and Consequences as a LAST resort, calmly and matter of factly, even with a “DARN! You lost your screen time and I know how much you wanted to watch that show!” Good luck with Descriptive Praise, Reflective Listening, Preparing for Success, and Never Ask Twice. Ready for a coaching session? Book one, here.


What will HELP a child’s temper tantrum

When your child is having a bad temper tantrum, it isn’t convenient. Likely you have missed dinner, a nap, downtime, etc. And…you are public. Like a bad dream, the meltdown begins, loudly and in front of clients, diners, or the checkout line. A temper tantrum is most likely resulting from a physical need not being met (food, sleep, being carried) and not getting her way. This flood of bad feelings will extinguish more quickly if you Reflectively Listen and try to understand what she is feeling. Here are some tips:


Reflective Listening

  • Tell her what you think she might be feeling
  • Ask if there is more
  • Stay positive and gentle
  • Stay in charge
  • Make sure she cannot hurt you or others
  • Tell her that you are right here, if she needs a hug
  • If she won’t accept a hug, stay close
  • Talk or murmur sweet nothings – she needs to hear your calm voice

The calm after the storm will be worth it. She’ll sleep good tonight (and she may be in a great mood, when it is all said and done). One last bit of advice: Don’t give in, even after she has calmed herself. Good luck – and tell me how it goes, in the comments.


What WON’T Help a Temper Tantrum

Your child is LOSING it. You are in a public place and you are triggered. You’re embarrassed, you feel the stares of those around you, and you’re exhausted of this….again! Stay calm. Reflective Listening is the only thing that will work, right now.

Reflective Listening

Here’s what will not work:

  • Reasoning with her
  • Yelling and sharp words
  • Repeating and nagging
  • Setting up rewards if she stops crying
  • Setting up punishments – this simply creates more anxiety
  • Distraction (once you stop distracting, the feelings will return – and with greater power)

Lastly, Reflective Listening is not a time to teach. Resist thinking that the calm after the storm is a teachable moment. What IS Reflective Listening? Tune in to the next blog.


Magic Bullet for Children: Special Time

You love your children!  It might, likely, be the most deeply felt emotion you have ever experienced.  TIME is always in short supply.  Both parents and children long for more.  No one is really at fault for this short supply of easy time.  You may find yourself saddled with enough responsibility to occupy THREE parents.  Because of this, it is more important than ever that you carve out Special Time, with each of your children. It is a simple, yet powerful.

Special Time

And the Magic Bullet? Special Time is really a form of listening, because your child’s play and games and silliness becomes her vehicle for telling you about her perceptions.  It can help cure Sibling Rivalry, behavioral problems, temper tantrums, and acting out in public. And, it teaches you about your child. Here are some ideas to make it perfect for your child (and you!):

  • Allow zero interruptions: no telephone, no errands, and no chores – be with your child
  • Set aside a short, pre-defined period of time, that you share with your child beforehand ( feel free to use a timer to show how you will protect this time )
  • Call it Special Time. Tell your child how much you are looking forward to it, before hand. Name it Special Time
  • Put your child in charge of the game. Get down on the floor with her and be willing to do whatever she wants. Follow her lead
  • Show enjoyment and glee
  • Use a lot of smiling and eye contact (even if it isn’t reciprocated, she’ll feel it)
  • Expect new games and new communication – embrace the story that she is creating

Try very hard to let your child direct – resist the temptation to teach how it might be done better (unless she is being outright unsafe). Our parents were working too hard and under too many pressures to play this way when we were children and it might feel odd and uncomfortable to play like this. But, the more you do it, the easier it will become. And the Magic Bullet? You will get to know your child on her terms, with her interests, with her sense of humor, and you will quickly find that she delights in this new found power.

Special Time is truly a Magic Bullet. This kind of Special Time will teach you how to be a good friend, a great listener and will teach your child that you really love her, just the way that she is.

Magic Bullet for Children: Reflective Listening

You love your child!  But the whining and the tantrums – ug! Because time is in short supply, you hurry your child along through tears, tantrums, and forcing them past the whining-for-something stage. This is not what is best for your child – and it might make your child even MORE whiney and create even more tears. Next temper tantrum, try some Reflective Listening!  It is a simple, yet powerful. Reflective Listening

When your child gets terribly upset, you don’t have to agree. You don’t have to convince. In fact, all you really have to do is to … listen. What does Reflective Listening look like?

  • Naming the feeling (even if you are wrong)
  • Caring about the child and his feeling
  • Your ability to hear more about that feeling

In fact, you may find that listening to a child’s tears, without putting demands on him to pull himself together, actually takes less time and is actually much easier and more rewarding than trying to control, distract, or force polite behaviors upon him.  When the tantrum begins, listen, staying near. “Tell me more,” “That sounds scary,” “I’m sorry that happened that way. ” Don’t say too much, however, or you’ll be dominating the interaction vs. listening. Most importantly, resist the temptation to use this as a teachable moment. Don’t correct his feelings.  When a child has stormed or cried the feelings through, he will begin to notice you and his surroundings again, and will generally feel deeply relieved and refreshed.  Soft smiles or laughter might even follow a stormy cry, indicating that your child might be able to think reasonably.  But, now is not the time to tell him what he did wrong. The magic bullet? He will feel deeply loved when you have continued to show that you care through his worst feelings. And later, he might even tell you what he did wrong.

Being able to show true and scary feelings (and having the parent respect those feelings) will improve a child’s perspective and confidence. You may start to notice positive changes in his behavior, almost immediately, once the tantrum is over. This kind of Reflective Listening is, at first, extremely difficult for almost all parents!  But, it is worth it. And will teach you how to be a good friend, a great parent, and teach your child that you really love him, prickly thorns and all.