Got Parenting? What Kind of Relationship Do You Want With Your Child?

Your Parenting Style Is Your Relationship with Your Child

parenting, conscious parenting, kids, trust

Parenting with love, anger, fear? Everything you do and say is forming the type of relationship you have and will have with your child. Are you in a dictator relationship where they do what you say no questions asked? Are you in a manipulative relationship where they will say and do what they know you want to hear in fear that perhaps you won’t approve of them or love them if they have their own opinions? Or, are you in a conscious relationship where your child can have their own likes and dislikes, their own opinions, and come to you easily with their needs and problems? Perhaps it’s a combination of the above or something different entirely. Either way, you have the awesome opportunity to be the person your child trusts and loves enough to go to with their joys, fears, successes, failures, embarrassments, needs, worries and more throughout their life.

Parenting Style of My Childhood

For some reason, I grew up feeling like I was never good enough… like I had to be perfect… I couldn’t make mistakes… and that I just wasn’t worthy. My parents were good parents, but we never talked about emotions and we were shown conditional love… meaning if we had bad behavior, they would get angry with us. Thing is, I got the message that it was not ok to mess up, and when I mess up they get mad. So, when I did have struggles and even messed up as a young adult more than once, I didn’t know who to turn to. I could have really used a loving parent to lean on, but I was too ashamed and afraid of the judgement I would receive if I opened up… probably more a result of religious dogma and fear, but nonetheless, my truth at the time.

Your Parenting Style and Your Kids

My son is now 6, and I love him no matter what. I am sure to tell him that all the time. I do also make a point to always validate his feelings and set limits on his behavior. Interesting enough, that is not the norm. I was at a back-to-school orientation night, and the director was asking us in the audience to list some qualities that we value in our homes. And, I raised my hand and said “unconditional love”.  She disagreed in front of the entire auditorium and went on to say that it’s pretty hard to love a kid when they are doing the wrong thing. I was shocked at the matter of fact way she discounted what I said. I had truly learned to love my son even though he doesn’t always do the right thing… I had to… my son was just that kid who did the wrong thing often, and I hated the person I was becoming, getting mad and reacting to unwanted behavior rather than responding to it. It was not working for either of us. I’m happy I had the opportunity to learn how to love my son even when he’s not doing the right thing. Besides constantly helping him to identify his own emotions, I feel like I am constantly reassuring him it’s ok to have emotions and make mistakes while teaching him appropriate ways to handle them both.

Love Based Parenting Style Could Change the World

What would happen if all kids got the message that they were loved no matter what? If kids knew they were loved even if they got bad grades, or tried drugs, or had sex or got pregnant? I’m not saying you have to like what they did, I’m just presenting what it would be like if kids who got themselves into a mess actually had an unconditionally loving parent to turn to for help. Perhaps that kid wouldn’t even get into a mess… they’d talk to you about their struggle with their teacher or that subject in school and they would come talk to you about wanting to have sex or about how they may be feeling pressured to have sex. Then, these secure kids would grow into adults knowing they are loved even though they are not perfect, so they can skip the many years of having to learn to love and accept themselves as they are (because they already do) and get right to making a contribution to our world.

Conscious Parenting Can Begin Early

Do you love your kids unconditionally? Really? Can they be who they want and still get your attention? How often does your child come to you with an embarrassing situation or an intimate feeling or thought? How often do you share either with them? I was recently talking with a friend whose husband is a good guy but is sadly distancing himself from his daughter. He had taking her on a hike but decided not to bring water. He talked about how he spent many hours as a kid helping out his family and didn’t have water… and he was proud of how tough it made him. Problem was, in talking to her daughter, my friend finds out that she was really thirsty on the hike, but she didn’t say anything to her father. Was she embarrassed that she needed water… did she think he wouldn’t approve since he could go without water? Whatever the case… this little girl was unable to acknowledge one of her most basic primary needs and communicate that to a person she is supposed to love and trust. What is this teaching her about her needs? That her needs are not important… to not speak up… to comply so that others will love her! Wow, this is so dangerous. All because a father wants to teach their child something. Note to this father and other parents like him: Your child will NOT be coming to you when they are being pressured into sex or drugs if they can’t even express that they are thirsty!

Parenting Made Simple

Love is the answer. Don’t worry so much about what you want to teach your kid. Worry more about modeling how to think constructively, plan ahead, and love with your whole heart. Model how to handle your emotions eloquently. Model how to have fun in a safe way and how to say no when you want to. If you want to teach them something, then ask them how they are feeling? Ask them to check in with their bodies to see if they are hungry or thirsty or feeling like some exercise. Ask them, before the hike, if they’d like to bring water or a snack? (Then when they take a friend for a hike, they’ll consider their friend’s needs and ask them if they would like to bring water, etc.) Empower them with the tools of how to be prepared, how to love, how to understand what they are feeling, and of how to use their voice. Do this by modeling it for them and talking with them about it on a daily basis. Your kids are our future!

Love yourself and your kids enough to be the person they turn to when they need someone most.

Lots of Light,

Candice T . Aguirre

How to Change Any Behavior

Kids are Talking… not misbehaving!

behavior challenges, behavior as communication, anger, misbehavior,

ADULTS – STOP YELLING, START LISTENING…

If one thing can raise our blood pressure or make steam come out of our ears as parents and/or teachers, it’s unwanted and unexpected behaviors. We’ve all got that in common, as kids come prewired with a lot of behaviors. The thing is, there’s a key piece of information that we have not been given… but it’s the most important thing you need to know as a parent and/or teacher. That is this: Behavior is NOT a discipline problem, it’s actually communication. Yes, the kids around you are speaking! They are scared, upset, worried, anxious, insecure, tired, sad, angry, happy, blood sugar is off, etc… First thing is to realize that behavior is a means of communication, not a lack of obedience. Let go of the power struggles and LISTEN!

DECODING BEHAVIOR 101

Don’t get mad for behavior… acknowledge it and talk to your kids. “Hey, I can see you’re really upset, what’s going on?” Remember, it’s okay that your kids get upset. It’s actually very normal and all people do. Now is the time to teach them it’s okay to talk about what is making them upset, and show them they can trust the people in their life to help.

QUICK BEHAVIOR STORY

My 5 year old son was acting out after school, and it got worse as the week went on. He was irritable, angry, short, and almost impossible when we got home. I finally talked to him. He has some expressive language deficits among other needs, so it was not easy…. but I finally understood from him that he was upset that all the other kids got to eat a treat for a birthday, but he didn’t. See, I had asked the teachers to not feed him outside food with a list of ingredients I wanted him to avoid, like food coloring, sugar, etc. My hope was to help control some of his ongoing struggles. When I realized how much pain the restricted diet was causing and even potential emotional damage, I let it go. He immediately shifted, and I was shocked at this new happier kid. We eat very healthy at home, and he still makes healthy choices, but for my family, lifting the diet restrictions in the classroom was the right choice. My son didn’t want to feel even more different and was so happy to just fit in. He has no allergies, so this was an option for us. Other ways to modify this if your child does have allergies would be to find a sweet treat that is acceptable to you and your child. Both of you agree ahead of time that this will be the treat in the classroom and your child will be better prepared when they don’t get what the other kids get.

CHANGE ANY BEHAVIOR

The difficulty of changing any behavior will vary for every kid and every situation. Some kids and/or situations will require just a conversation or some observation to understand what they were trying to say with their behavior. And, other kids and/or situations may need to be taught specifically what the desired behavior is. In fact, research says, if you want to change any behavior, you’ve got to TEACH A REPLACEMENT BEHAVIOR. You can really change any behavior; yes it’s possible! You can’t just say, “No, don’t do this/that”… you’ve got to actually teach what the “expected” and/or appropriate behavior is and give positive reinforcement. With my kid, when I really want to put an inappropriate behavior on extinction, I will create a social story about the expected behavior, walk him through every step of the right behavior, then use some repetition to practice it, rewarding him with every step (we use stars). We do this over and over and over until it’s muscle memory to do the “expected” behavior. Read more about it here…

What are some behaviors you would like to change with your kids? Have you tried talking to them? Have you taught a replacement behavior? Let’s talk about it.

Lots of Light, Candice.

How to Have Problem Solving SuperKids

Problem Solving is a Superpower

problem solving, kids, empowerment, emotional intelligence, anger

Introduce the Superpower called Problem Solving

Talk with your kids about how things arise in life that we may consider problems, and that everyone encounters these problems. Be sure to let them know that it’s very normal and while everyone’s problems are different, everyone does face the same challenge of how to handle their problems.  Then let them in on a little secret… which is: this ability to handle problems is actually a Superpower that anyone can have… and it’s called Problem Solving! And, the best part is, the more they practice their problem solving superpower, it will grow and get stronger… and soon they will be able to solve any problem that they face in their lives. Ask them how they like the sound of that.

Teach the 6 Steps to the Problem Solving Superpower.

When a problem arises…

  1. STOP! 3 deep breaths. Count to 10.
  2. Decide what the problem is.
  3. Brainstorm Solutions.
  4. Make the best choice.
  5. Do it!
  6. Didn’t work? Start over.

Those are the steps. Simple right? Well, some kids need the coaching before problems arise so that they can handle them appropriately and even come up with solutions themselves. My son is one of those. So, go over these steps with your kids and practice them with your kids, especially on small problems like forgetting something at the grocery store or running late. The more you practice the steps, model the steps, and coach them with the steps through their problems; the more they will become second nature for your kids. Have fun with this! Remember, every time there’s a problem, you want their mantra to be… “I can handle this… I’m going to use my problem solving superpower!” This helps them focus on what they have control over, and empowers them to handle their problems.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat… and Your Kids will Have Awesome Problem Solving Superpowers!

Happy Parenting,

Candice.

Rules of Handling Intense Emotions like Anger

anger, regulating emotions, kids, handling anger

My Script for Anger

When my 5 year old son gets really angry, I remind him “It’s okay to be angry. Everyone gets angry. But, it’s NOT okay to hurt others or yourself.” Then as my son starts hitting the wall or trying to knock something over. I continue, “I can see you’re really mad, but it’s not okay to destroy the things around you.” He can get very angry at times, so I remember to stay calm and coach him through it. Every time is an opportunity to calmly help him recognize if the size of his reaction is appropriate for the size of the problem, which starts teaching him to regulate his emotions. It has been a journey so far, and I learn something new everyday.

Rule #1: Validation – It’s Okay to Feel Angry

Let your kids know it’s okay to feel angry. Tell them that anger is a normal feeling and that everyone gets angry, even you. Tell them that the way they feel is always normal and ok… everyone has feelings. Don’t tell them they are not feeling how they feel… thing is, they ARE feeling how they feel whether you want them to or not. So, better to talk to them about their anger or what they are feeling and teach them what to do with it so they can become more aware of themselves and their emotions. Bottom line is, anger is normal and they are experiencing something very real and intense.

Rule #2: Limits – Give Boundaries

Next, you need to set boundaries. Boundaries set limits on their behavior. See, emotions are acceptable, but not all behavior is. Tell them that they can not hurt others or yourself, and that they can not destroy the things around them. Learning to manage anger is a skill that you will help them with, just like riding a bike, and the boundaries are always the same for all people. Double check before moving on to #3 that your child understands his emotions are ok, but his behavior has very real limits.

Rule #3: Planning – Agree on Ways to Handle Anger

Discuss ideas for handling anger before your child is angry so they can use them when they do get angry. When angry, kids need words to express themselves. Give them different ideas of what to say when they are angry like I’m mad, that makes me angry, ah man that’s not what I wanted to happen, oh come on, etc. My son used to attack the kids who knocked over his lego towers, even if it was on accident. But, once he had the words to say what he was feeling, he stopped being so physically aggressive. I went on to teach him how to talk to the kids who were near about being careful with his structure and even ask moms who’s babies were wandering near to make sure they don’t knock it over. Once you know the triggers for your child’s anger, you can help bring their awareness to when they start to get angry and guide them to cool off before things escalate. I don’t always catch it that early though. What works best for my son in the moment is acknowledging his anger, empathizing, and then setting limits, and then problem solving. So, if he’s getting really angry, I might say, “I can see that you are really upset your tower fell, I would be upset too, but it’s not okay to hurt others… say how you feel, say, I’m so mad!” Then I might see him break down crying because of how sad he is it broke because of how hard he had worked on it. I wonder out loud, modeling problem solving, how we can fix it and then let him come up with the solution of rebuilding. Thing is, anger is usually the emotion we see, but there is often something under it… sad, scared, worried, frustrated, defeated, victimized, etc. If you get mad at your kid who is angry, you’ll never actually know why they are angry. As your kids get older, you’ll find by giving them tools to handle their emotions and talk about what is going on, they will learn effective problem solving.

 

Rule #4: Skills – Practice Handling Anger Ahead of Time

Your child will be more receptive to learning when they are calm and relaxed. This is the perfect time to practice handling anger with them in a fun way. I love to role play with my son. I find he does better the more we role play situations. It somehow allows him to process what he’s learning and commit it to long term memory. So, do some role play where each of you pretend to get angry and then try solutions, one at a time. Be sure to talk aloud when you are modeling, so they can hear your thought process. Next, extend the role play to recognizing the feelings/situations that lead up to the anger outburst and resolving them before they are overwhelming. Lastly, make up situations big and small and role play different reactions to match the size of the problems. A general rule of thumb… the more people needed to solve a problem, the bigger the problem. This way, you are both becoming skilled at identifying when anger is on it’s way and dissolving it, as well as, your child gains the skills needed to handle anger appropriately when it shows up.

Rule #5: Stay Calm

When my son gets really angry, I take some deep breathes myself to stay calm, and I wait to see if he needs gentle reminders about appropriate ways to handle his emotions. If I get really excited or upset, I find it makes his emotions stronger. Also, how you handle their anger is how they will handle situations when they are around others who are angry. No need for our kids to absorb others’ intense emotions… so let’s teach them to stay calm by staying calm ourselves. Also, by staying calm, we allow our kids a little space to solve handling emotions on their own. And, step in and guide your child as needed. Remember, intense emotions like anger can be really scary for a young child, so be their calm guide through it. You may find they need a bit more guidance at the beginning, but with your consistently calm support they will gain the skills they need to regulate themselves in intense situations.

Continued role play that include new and relevant situations will help keep your kids’ skills fresh and hone their ability to handle their anger. Also, talk to them about things that made you angry as they come up and how you dealt with it. All moments, even ones that make you angry can be opportunities in disguise. So allow yourself to feel angry, but then look for what the opportunity is too. Teaching your child this will teach resilience. My son was very upset his tower was knocked down, but then after talking to him about it after he calmed down, I asked if there was any way he would improve his last design. And, he got really excited about adding windows this next time. We enjoyed building it back together, with the update of windows.

Thank you for empowering your children to handle anger and other intense emotions in an appropriate way. You are making the world a better place.

Lots of Light,

Candice.

Talk to Your Kids About Their Anger

OH NO! It’s Anger!

angry, anger, kids, emotions

ANGER is a normal emotion.

Too often, kids are taught that it’s not okay to be angry. I overheard a babysitter telling my son not to be angry, but instead to be happy. I didn’t correct her at the time, because I didn’t have the tools I’m going to share on this site. But, when she’s back next, I will be sure to coach her on how to coach my son through his anger. Truth is, most people are afraid of anger and try to get away from it as fast as possible, because of how powerful it can be and what it can make people do. But that is the exact reason we need to focus on teaching kids the skills to recognize and handle their anger in appropriate ways.

Let’s Get Angry!

To begin, think of something that really makes you angry… I mean really angry. Now, imagine how you’d feel if someone said either of the following: 1) “Don’t be angry, be happy :-)” or 2) “Wow, I can see you’re really upset… I’d be upset too.” In the first sentence, being angry is not okay. But in the second sentence, anger is normal and even understood. You’re kids are having real feelings. Anger is very real. There is no question about it. So, don’t pretend it’s not there or try to redirect them away from it. Acknowledge their feelings, recognize they are angry. This is just a simple observation. “Wow, I can see you’re very upset.” This is the first step to teaching kids how to handle anger.

Anger and Older Kids

If your kids are older, you may find they go right into what happened to make them so angry. The fact that you are just there to listen will give them space to share what’s going on. You could add, “I get really angry sometimes too… would you like to share what happened?” They won’t feel challenged or judged. Remember, actively listening is one of the most powerful and effective methods to help your older kids handle their anger and solve their problems. But if your kids are younger, chances are you know why they are so mad, and they will need coaching to understand how they feel and what to do with their intense emotions.

Anger Can Be Dangerous

Intense emotions lead to many things. If you just look at adults… why do some become addicted to alcohol or drugs or smoking or food? Why are some adults impulsive and other abusive? It’s very obvious… they never learned good coping skills to handle their strong emotions. It’s your job as a parent to teach your child coping skills for their strong emotions… even anger!

If you teach a child that it’s not okay to be angry, they are going to think something is wrong with them. And, every time they feel angry, they are going to try to get away from it as quick as possible. So, when they become adults, what’s the fastest way to get rid of anger? Have a drink or two, a smoke or two, or just hit the nearest person! Empower your child with the ability to handle anger, instead of fearing anger. Talk to them about anger and about what makes you angry and how you handle it. Then, come up with solutions to how they can handle their anger appropriately. They might even have some ideas of how to “cool off”.  Remember to include the rules of intense emotions (coming soon).

Cool Off Mantra for Anger

Imagine if your child had the mantra, “ooo, I’m angry… but I know everyone gets angry at times… now I need to manage my anger… a few deep breaths… count to ten… take a walk…. get some fresh air… I am going to let my body and mind calm down…. I’ll be right back, I need a moment to cool off…  I’m fine, I just need some air… I know the anger will pass… I’m okay… this is normal…” etc. Just think if a child had years to practice this before getting into the real world and how prepared they would be to handle their anger when you are not around.

Talk about anger with your child and foster their emotional intelligence, self-control, self-confidence and self-mastery.

In Happiness,

Candice.