Tag Archives: temperament

Mar. ’19 Q&A – Being Your Child’s Friend and Parent, Angry Behavior and When the Coach is a Bully

Being Your Child’s Friend and Parent

Q. I do welcome your advice and think you speak a lot of sense, but I am not sure about your advice to be your child’s friend in one of your articles. What is wrong with being a mum? I am the only person who can officially be regarded as mum in my daughter’s life and I feel very proud to be so. I am not sure being a friend is possible as the friendship is automatically unbalanced. I have a number of very good friends, some long term and we have quite balanced relationships, involving give and take. I do not regard my relationship with my daughter as balanced, and she does not seem to understand give and take. I would also say she is a very high maintenance friend, and therefore I would go out of my way not to be her friend if she wasn’t my daughter. I don’t think she is like that with her peers though – I think their relationship is balanced. When choosing activities, we try to pick nice things to do and see, and we get a lot of resistance from her until we get her there and then she loves it. We also get resistance around food and most things at the moment – she is quite selfish and does not seem to understand the notion of helping out, and she wants things from shops all the time, which is wearing.

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On Being a Parent

Becoming a parent is easy. Being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. There are as many “shoulds” and “oughts” about parenting as books on bookstore shelves. What should you do? Who do you listen to?

Some say trust your instincts. I agree. After all we are evolved to procreate and raise children in the culture of our heritage. It should be as easy as it appears for the birds and the bees. But where are all those wise instincts we’re born with? For most of us, they are buried under layers upon layers and years and years of being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We’re taught if we don’t listen to parents and elders, we will be in trouble, maybe not be loved or accepted. Years of learned experience has set up detours and roadblocks tricking most of us away from our instincts to look in the wrong direction for the answers.

The answer is found in trusting yourself.

But first you have to believe that you actually do know what to do? Probably you learned you shouldn’t trust yourself because you were taught to listen to your parents and teachers no matter what. Giving your opinion was thought of as rude and “talking back”. You probably decided to just keep quiet and stay out of the way so nobody yelled at you. Or you decided you didn’t need anybody and began listening to the wrong people. You learned so much in all those developing years – just not how to trust yourself.

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When Do I Draw the Line?

Parents who want to leave the reward and punishment methods behind often have a hard time letting go fully and embracing a truly connective relationship with their children.

When my child won’t do what has to be done, I have to draw the line, don’t I?
I try to be empathic and listen, but where do I draw the line?

What does “Drawing the line” mean? Making your child stop? Not being empathic anymore? Maintaining your authority as a parent? I think it’s worth figuring out what this phrase means as it runs endlessly in the minds of well-intentioned parents trying their best to change old ways.

“Drawing the line” is one of the last bastions of the reward and punishment mindset. It comes out of the frustrated parent dealing with a defiant or resistant child. But what do you do when you draw the line? Is this line similar to a “line in the sand” beyond which one cannot cross? Does that mean you and your child are separated by a line preventing both of you from getting to each other? Is it a boundary mark that determines the end of your attempt at connection and the beginning of punitive measures?

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May ’18 Q&A – Confidence, Empathy and Shopping

Is it lack of confidence or too much control?

Q. Our 5-year old boy is struggling with confidence. He has difficulty focusing at school and we don’t want him to get behind. There are 22 kids in his class and the school has an expectation of work. Also has trouble focusing at soccer practice/games, anytime things are going on around him. He has no issues interacting with people, kids or adults. I believe he lacks confidence because he is afraid of trying new things. He doesn’t like to fail and gets frustrated easily when he can’t learn fast. He also gets very embarrassed when things don’t go as expected.

Following the same type of discipline we experienced as kids and some bad advice, we controlled his environment too much the last 2-3 years, and I believe that is the reason he struggles trusting himself and us. We had a baby last year (she is 1 now) and the combination of this big change and the environment we unintentionally created for him has been damaging for him. We have been looking into anxiety (because there is family history) and also ADHD to see if we need to be concerned. He has not been diagnosed with anything, but through some play therapy he started we were told he has control issues and to look into control and anxiety before ADHD. What would your recommendation be in order to boost his confidence and embrace who he is? 

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April ’18 Q&A – “Bad” Preschool Behavior, Racism and Screentime

“Bad” Preschool Behavior

Q. Our 31/2 year old grandson just started preschool, and has already gotten an email (in 6 days) about how bad his behavior is.  Not listening, not being nice with other kids, etc.  I don’t think he is old enough to verbalize what is bothering him, so how do we figure out how to help him? I remember your story about your child when she was young and even now you said it almost breaks your heart because she couldn’t say what was bothering her.

A. If your grandson’s preschool is complaining about his behavior,

  1. They don’t know how to handle impulsive children
  2. He is not ready for school
  3. This school is not the right place for him

Or all 3 of these may be true. In any case, I would remove him from this school immediately. If they see him as having “bad” behavior (not true), they do not understand behavior and it likely means they have already decided too much about him that will color all their interactions with him going forward. He needs a preschool that will understand normal, impulsive, boy behavior and how to respond to that behavior effectively. However, if his parents do not NEED him to be in school, then I might keep him home for another 6 months. Or if they can, hire someone to be with him at home. In terms of him verbalizing what the problem is, it is hard. His understanding is from a 3 y.o. perspective, which is not objective at all.

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March ’18 Q&A – Getting Choices to Work, Getting a Spouse On Board and Swearing

Getting Choices to Work

Q. What is the next step after saying, “You can either pick up that toy you threw and put it in the box or hand it to me. Which do you choose?” and the child refuses to choose or states they refuse to do either? I frequently find this with my 3 year old daughter. We either end up in a power struggle or I end up letting it go and the toy is left or I pick it up. 

A. I would add, “If you can’t make the choice right now, let’s take a break and do something else and then come back to it.” If you put it to her the moment she has thrown the toy it is too soon because she is deep in her anger. Next time give it time for her emotions and yours to calm. I might also start with “Do you want to…” instead of “You can either…” which sounds a little more threatening. If your anger is behind your words, she will definitely not respond. Take a break, do some calming down activity, then acknowledge the anger that made her throw the toy – “You were very angry when I asked you to put your toys away. You didn’t want to do that so you threw one of them because you felt mad.” You then normalize her feelings and let her know she is okay. Then say, “Are you ready now to make a choice? Do you want to bring it to me or put it in the box?” Once feelings are calmed, she is more likely to want to make amends.

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February ’18 Q&A – Handling Big Emotions, When Anger Gets Physical and When to Negotiate and When Not

Handling Big Emotions

Q. My 4-year-old son still has very intense fits/tantrums. He has an older brother who is 6 1/2. A lot of the time we try and ignore his fits, and usually he will go to his bed and get his loveys and cry. Sometimes his fits can be more than 15 minutes. But the times when I’m struggling with how to deal with them is when we simply can’t ignore and wait—when he does not want to leave the house. I had to literally drag him kicking and screaming into the car. After 10 minutes of him standing in the car (unwilling to get in his seat) and screaming, my husband took him out and hugged/held him and tried to connect with him. We brought him back to the car and the same thing ensued. At this point, we forced him into his chair and buckled him and went to the park as planned, as our older son had been very patiently waiting. He cried the whole 10 minutes there, and refused to get out of the car for a while. Eventually he did get out, and of course he had a fabulous time riding his bike and playing at the park for the next hour. The same thing happens often.

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January ’18 Q&A – Sharing & Hogging, School Resistance and The Dark Side

Sharing and Hogging

Q. My three-year-old has a very big issue with sharing and hogging. She has an 18 mo. old sister who is not allowed to touch anything. I understand that my daughter still is having a hard time with her arrival, she has to share me, she doesn’t get to have me all to herself, she doesn’t even get to read books alone with me and on top of it all I am three times as tired, have to do a lot more chores, can’t play with her at the drop of the hat, and she doesn’t get to have all of my adoration just for her. I still feel really guilty about that. At first I thought, fair enough the toys were hers, so I opted to buy my youngest toys for herself. I told my eldest and explained before we bought anything that I was buying for her sister so she doesn’t have to touch hers. She agreed but once the toy is bought she wants to have it and play with it. She gets so angry and hits me when I try to give the toy back to her sister.

A. Your 3 yr. old is not developmentally ready to share or understand that what she agrees to one minute must be agreed to another minute. So every time she is expected to share, she will resist because she feels confused and misunderstood — and most importantly, she wants what she wants when she wants it (absolutely normal).

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September ’17 Q&A – Getting Out the Door, Talking About Suicide, Sibling Conflict

Getting Out the Door

Q. HOW do I get my 3.75 yr. old to MOVE in the morning?? It’s not a matter of getting up earlier or being more organized. When he knows we’re going to school, he puts the breaks on and repeatedly tells me he doesn’t want to go to school. This is his first year, and he goes 2 mornings a week. This has just started happening 2 weeks ago. I don’t recall a change and teacher say nothing happened there in particular. When I pick him up he’s always happy but just doesn’t want to GO. So how do I make getting ready to leave a fun thing to do if he doesn’t want to go?!

A. The first thing you want to understand is that there is no reason whatsoever that a 3 or 4 year old should want to leave the house in the morning. Even if it’s something fun, they don’t usually want to get up, dressed, eat, and out. They want to stay in pjs, play what they want, and not be rushed into anything. Your expectation needs to be set to that level. It may be because his temperament is slow moving and he hates having to move when he doesn’t want to. If he feels rushed, he may think there’s something wrong with the way he is and may fight you on it.

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Our Living Legacies or Baggage We Can Drop

We live our lives, choose our experiences and relationships, believe in ourselves, and raise our children according to how we were raised. Many do not connect the dots to form the connection. Many swear they are nothing like their parents and would never make the same choices. Yet even in our resistance or rejection, we resist and reject in ways provoked by these experiences—unconsciously. Until we recognize the connections and change our consciousness.

As small children, we are receptors of what is in our experience and environment. We do not yet have the cognitive ability to deconstruct what someone says to us and decipher its meaning. Not until seven or eight do our brains develop enough to take in an experience and think, Dad didn’t really mean that, he’s just having a bad day. Or, Mom is being funny with her sarcastic remark. She’s just pretending to be mad at me. Or, That’s his problem. Before then, a young child’s psyche is just forming. Yelling, criticism, and blame is absorbed and processed as the truth. So when Mom gets her button pushed and screams, “Who do you think you are? You never listen. If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about,” the young child’s brain hears, I’m bad, I’m wrong, I’m not good enough.

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