How Telling Your Kid to CALM DOWN Can Have Negative Effects!
Discipline, Parent-Child Communication

How Telling Your Kid to CALM DOWN Can Have Negative Effects!

We have talked about this – growing up I had a pretty serious temper. My dad called me the “Tiger Kat”. Mainly my temper reared its ugly head when plans changed. If I was planning on watching TV and my mom asked me to do the dishes, it flared. But it would also flare when I was planning on doing my homework and my mom asked if I wanted to be a little adventurous and see a movie that evening. I know that sounds crazy, but the stress of needing to finish my homework and not knowing when it would get done if I went to the movies, coupled with the desire to not miss out on the fun, were too much for my young, strong emotions to handle.

I have since learned to control my emotions and my stress – thank goodness. However, there is still one phrase that always ignites my temper: “Calm down.”

Usually when someone says “Calm down” it is with the best intentions and is sincere advice. However, the result is typically the exact opposite (Shellenbarger, 2016).

Why does this happen? Because when you tell someone to calm down, you are not acknowledging their feelings as valid. If I am stressed because I just got back from vacation and work has piled up, my house is a mess, I do not have time to work out or meditate, and I have to take my car in for service unexpectedly and the bill is enormous, it is not a good time to tell me to calm down!

The stress that I feel is real. What I need is empathy. After many discussions, my husband has learned to stop trying to solve my problem (starting with not saying “Calm down”), and to instead say, “Wow. That is a lot of stuff going on. That stinks. I’m sorry honey.” (And maybe he even has time to offer his help!)

And that is what your children need too.

Their stressors may not seem big to you given your years of experience and vantage point, but they still feel like big deals to your child. The stress they feel is real. So what they really need from you is not advice on how to move forward, but rather some comfort. They need to hear that what they are feeling is natural. Once they receive that validation, they will be much more open to suggestions from you on how they can move forward productively. Eventually, they will learn to calm down in these situations without being told to do so.


References:

Shellenbarger, S. (2016). Why you should never tell someone to relax. The Wall Street Journal. 

tips on disciplining children
Difficult Topics, Discipline, Parent-Child Communication

Just a Little “Bop”- A Conversation On Disciplining Your Children

Don't Hit Your Kids

So recently a mom was telling me that when her son does something she doesn’t like, she just gives him “a little bop” on the hand. She doesn’t consider this spanking. And she believes that it has really helped him learn what he can and cannot do.

March at Fireborn was really dedicated to discipline and parenting, so just to quickly review the point of discipline: it’s to help kids learn how to self-discipline. Discipline teaches kids how they should behave in the future.

So if you “bop” your child every time he messes up, what does he learn? He does learn to stop doing things that you bop him for. He also learns that when someone does something you don’t like, you should “bop” them.

[bctt tweet=”Bopping like this encourages kids to do as their parents say, but it doesn’t teach them how to communicate with others nor does it teach them why what they are doing is wrong.” username=”@SisuFireborn”]

And that’s a problem because people do not get to go around bopping other people when they do things they don’t like.

Bopping like this encourages kids to do as their parents say, but it doesn’t teach them how to communicate with others nor does it teach them why what they are doing is wrong.

Kids mimic their parents’ behavior. So if you hit or bop your kid, they will hit and bop others. And friends don’t like to get bopped, so it could also hurt your child’s social circle.

So perhaps it is not technically spanking, but it has a very similar outcome: kids who are more likely to act aggressively with other kids. And I don’t think that’s what anyone wants for their kids.

Listen to the podcasts here…

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what to do when kids talk back
Difficult Topics, Discipline, The Happy Student Podcast

Episode #62: What To Do When Your Kid “Talks Back” with Alison Smith

Parent Coach Alison Smith joins us to talk about what to do when your child “talks back”. Alison’s gentle approach allows parents to parent with compassion and boundaries. She teaches us that when kids talk back it’s a surprisingly great opportunity to teach kids how to communicate well!

what to do when kids talk back

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“Parenting is a tough job on any given day, but a lot has changed in the last five, ten, even fifteen years not just in our challenges as parents, but also in what we know about children, brain development, and optimal relationships. So, the way that we parent changed more in the last few years than it ever has.” -Alison

Her definition of talking back involves:

  • a way to show disagreement
  • the tone
  • the sass/disrespect
  • an attempt to express their needs and wants in a way that doesn’t allow discussion

Why would kids talk back?

  • In some ways it’s a good thing because it’s a way the child can express how he/she is feeling (open communication and respect).
    • When they get to their teens you want to have this open relationship so that your child can come to you when things are difficult.
  • When parents were younger they did not have this sort of open communication with their parents so they become defensive in that they question why their child is “talking back” to them.
    • “Don’t they not realize that I’m the parent here?”
  • Look at it as a cry for help (if it’s not usual).
    • Be calm and ready to help.

What should parents say when their child talks back?

Options:

  1. Walk away, ignore it, and hope it doesn’t happen again.
  2. Fight fire with fire (a power struggle).
    • Regardless who wins, it’s not going to help anyone.
    • Can affect the rest of the family too.
  3. A pause (by the parent).
    • Get curious about it.
      • What’s going on with my child?-think of why your child may be acting like this.
    • Ask your child what is going on.
      • She may say I don’t want to talk about it right now and that’s OK.
        • But it’s not getting away with it. Address it at a point when it will have a greater chance of an impact, not when she’s ready to fight and not when you are hurt
        • By bringing it up you are acknowledging that it happened and that it’s not ok
          • “What’s up honey, this isn’t like you?”

Option 3 has the best outcomes.

 

“Connect then direct” -Alison

  • Connect
    • Get back on track with the relationship to make sure that they are ready to listen.
    • See from their point of view.
  • Direct
    • Have a conversation.

What do you do if your child is always “like this?”

  • Repair the relationship!!
    • Go back to when they were a baby/toddler: invited them in to you, create that safe space to let out emotions, talk about how the world works and what we do when faced with a challenge, then ask what they need.
    • “Offer that invitation as opposed to a demand because none of us likes to be bossed around and demanded.” -Alison
    • Look at prevention.
    • Have some tough, honest conversations with ourselves.
    • Extend that olive branch over and over again.

The Gentle Parenting Manifesto:

  • Skills that we need to manage our complex world
    • Ex: How do manage our emotions, how do we make amends and apologize?
  • Where are we at in this relationship?

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and how you choose to handle your children when they talk back.

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Difficult Topics, Discipline, The Happy Student Podcast

Episode #60: Types of Discipline

Last week we talked about some general tips for discipline. And those general tips, like remaining calm and staying focused on why the behavior was bad and not giving the impression that you think the child is bad, are really good things that you need to do. The problem with that advice is that it’s so general and I like to be really specific so it’s easy for you to bring what you hear here into your real life. So today we are going to talk about a few different ways you can discipline your kids.

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

Logical consequences:

  • Discipline needs to make sense and be fair.
  • Consequences need to make sense based on the misbehavior to show that that behavior is not okay.
  • When you pair logical consequences with the general discipline guideline of providing an explanation of why the behavior is not okay, you help your child learn to make better decisions next time.

Loss of privileges:

  • These happen when your child shows they are not responsible to have that privilege.
    • To regain that privilege the child has to show that they are responsible.
  • This teaches them how to make responsible decisions when you aren’t there.

Example of both a logical consequence and a loss of privilege:

For younger kids, perhaps a privilege is 15 minutes of play before bedtime. So, if you brush your teeth and put your pajamas on right when your parent tells you to, then you get the entire 15 minutes of playtime with your parent. But for every minute you whine, you lose a minute of playtime.

Ignoring attention-seeking behavior (ex: tantrums or interrupting):

  • Sometimes tantrums are used to manipulate you into getting what they want and that is when you want to ignore tantrums.
  • Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, authors of The Whole-Brain Child, point out that sometimes your child is throwing a tantrum because they have so many emotions and they don’t know how to control it and they need your help.
  • You can redirect tantrums to help teach her to self-soothe and again to make better decisions.

Timeouts:

Guidelines for timeouts:

  • First, verbalize the reason. “No hitting. Hitting hurts.”
  • Then give a warning, if possible.
  • If your child does not stop, she goes to a boring, time out spot to think about what she did.
  • After a just a few minutes of thinking, you come and have a brief discussion with her about why what happened was wrong.
  • Once it’s over, move on.

Getting curious:

  • It’s about communicating an observation about your child and figuring out why she is feeling so mad, angry, or frustrated.
  • Then, find a more appropriate solution to their feelings that lead to the inappropriate behavior.
  • This makes discipline a teachable moment.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and how you handle your day to day tasks and everyday to-do lists!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Difficult Topics, Discipline, The Happy Student Podcast

Episode #59: The General Rules of Discipline

Working to make this enormous topic of discipline manageable, Fireborn continues its series on discipline by talking about the general rules (guidelines for parents) of discipline: Remain calm; Provide an explanation; Give a warning; The consequence needs to make sense and be fair; Follow through; Return to your warm relationship; and Always focus on the behavior.

The General Rules of Discipline

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General rules of thumb when it comes to disciplining your kids:

  1. Remain calm and avoid yelling.
    • Show them how to be calm and how to respond to stressful situations without yelling.
    • If you catch yourself yelling you could say, “I’m sorry I’m yelling. We will talk about this later when I am calm.”
      • This shows your kids enormous self-awareness and models really good behavior for them.
      • It’s ok to stop yourself… as psychologist Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman says, “Would you keep falling down the stairs because you’ve already fallen down a couple? No way! You would stop yourself!”
  1. Provide an explanation of why the behavior is not ok
    • If they don’t know why something is wrong, they won’t have much motivation to change their behavior in the future when you aren’t there.
  1. Give a warning and time to process if you can.
    • You can incorporate an explanation in this warning if possible.
  1. Any punishment or consequence needs to make sense and be fair.
    • There should be a clear connection between what your child did and the consequence or loss of privilege.
    • You want to avoid providing overly harsh punishments because then the child does not think about what they did wrong, but rather how unfair the punishment is.
  1. Follow through.
    • If you don’t follow through then the child will learn that it doesn’t matter what your parents say, you can do what you want without consequences.
    • It’s ok to change your consequence if you think it is too harsh.
      • This will show your child that you are fair and reasonable and that changing our minds is okay.
  1. After disciplining your child, return to your loving, warm relationship – do not keep punishing your child by being angry.
    1. If you remain upset after discipline is over, your child will start to think that you don’t approve of him and that is hugely problematic.
  1. Discipline is always about the behavior, and never about the child being bad.
    1. When disciplining, we never want to attack our child’s self-esteem or self-worth.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and how you handle your day to day tasks and everyday to-do lists!

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Difficult Topics, Discipline, The Happy Student Podcast

Episode #58: The Purpose of Discipline

Discipline is a pretty overwhelming topic. It can also be pretty overwhelming when you are trying to discipline your kids and follow all of the advice! How do you provide logical consequences? How do you stop bad behavior? What’s the deal with timeouts? What does effective discipline actually look like? There’s a lot to think about and that can make discipline in the moment very hard! In a series on discipline, Fireborn will be breaking down this enormous topic – starting with “The Purpose of Discipline”.

The Purpose of Discipline

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IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL HEAR ABOUT…

Consequences

The different types:

  • Often parents threaten really serious consequences to try to deter their child from misbehaving. However, when the child goes ahead and carries out this serious offense, the parents can’t actually follow through on the threatened consequence.
    • This teaches children “I can do what I want no matter what my parents threaten.”
    • Or, when parents do follow through with a major consequence, the child focuses on how unfair the punishment is rather than learning from their mistake.
  • Or parents do not provide a consequence (and are overly permissive).
    • In this case, the child will not learn how to behave and how to make good decisions.

Discipline

  • The purpose of discipline is to teach kids how to self-discipline, that way they will make good, moral decisions when you aren’t there.
  • Discipline should be a teachable moment not a time to exert control.
    • So discipline isn’t about punishment. It’s about teaching your kids to do the right thing.
  • Kids whose parents discipline in this learning to self-discipline way have better outcomes. They are more socially adept, they are less likely to be bullies or be bullied, and they also tend to do better in school academically!
  • Remember the goal for discipline and outcomes when you are thinking about what consequence makes sense.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode and how you handle disciplining your children and what works best for you?

HERE’S HOW TO SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW

Want to be the first to know when a new episode is released? Click here to subscribe to The Happy Student on iTunes!

Podcast reviews are important to iTunes and the more reviews we can receive, the more likely we will be able to get our podcast and important messages in front of more parents! I would greatly appreciate if you clicked here and left a review letting me know your thoughts on this episode!

Those Crazy Teenage Brains
Difficult Topics, Discipline, High School, Parent-Child Communication

Those Crazy Teenage Brains

Teenagers are trouble. They stay out past curfew. They yell at you for no good reason and roll their eyes at you. They take scary, unnecessary risks, like driving way too fast. And there is so much drama. Any moment can turn into a major scene with a teen!

So what is driving these behaviors?

A lack of executive function skills in their rapidly developing brains (Flannery, 2015). A teenager’s brain is “like a Ferrari that’s all revved up… ‘But doesn’t have any brakes!'” (Flannery, 2015).

Because their executive functions are not yet developed, they have low impulse control. Teens make their decisions more on gut feelings and their emotions (Dawson & Guare, 2015). That, along with their desire to take risks (which increases around peers) and to exercise their independence, leads to these seemingly crazy behaviors. Kids that know the risks of unprotected sex do so anyway because the thought to use a condom simply never crossed their minds in the moment (Dawson & Guare, 2015). 

In the moment, your straight-A student may drink and drive or race friends in another car on the highway. Why? Because your child has not developed the emotional control, response inhibition, and impulse control necessary to take a step back in the moment and think, “Is this really a good idea?” They have no brakes!

As parents, we need to help them develop some.

We help our children develop brakes by:

  1. Practicing using the brakes at low-stakes times. As Richard Guare suggests, “Try not to put them in a context that plays to the weakness of the executive skills when you are asking them to practice and improve it” (2015). Give them the opportunity to succeed by asking them to use the brakes when they are not also influenced by peers, stress, strong emotions, etc…
    • For instance, talking about a breakdown in executive function skills right after a huge mistake is not a great time for learning. Your kid crashed the car. Yelling at her once you reach the scene only heightens her emotionally charged state instead of actually teaching her to think about what she is doing before she drives so dangerously again. To avoid such an incidence occurring again, adjust the situation so she is less inclined to drive dangerously by only letting her drive the car during the day and with no one else in the car.
    • You want to avoid competing distractions. Therefore, do not ask your teen to do something in front of peers – they are much more likely to resist doing anything you ask of them in that situation. (My mom would always call me away from my friends and I would just know by her tone that I was in trouble, but I still walked away from my friends to her).
    • Timing is everything. If your child is rushing out the door, that is not a good time to remind him about anything. He is going to forget it immediately or be annoyed at your last minute request because his mind is moving forward with his day. So, even if your child is forgetting his coat and you want to tell him not to, don’t. Let him forget it so next time he thinks about getting his coat before he leaves the house.
  2. Teens are under a lot of stress, which undermines their decision making abilities. Meditation and mindfulness can help. According to Dr. Frances Jensen, co-author of The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, “Mindfulness should be a big part of their education: being mindful of the effects of stress or social networking on their brains… They should know downtime is really important.” (Flannery, 2015).
  3. Treat conflicts with your teenagers as a negotiation. Yes, there are some non-negotiables – homework must get done to the best of your ability and you must be home by curfew. However, how and at what time of day homework gets done (as long as it is done on time) and what time curfew is are both negotiable. If your child shows she is capable of making good decisions, perhaps curfew can be pushed back half an hour. You do not have to come to the negotiation table with the solution for the compromise, just an open mind that your way may not be the right way and that you and your child will figure out a good solution to your conflict. (Sometimes you can’t, but it at least gives you the opportunity to discuss your rationale with your teen, which is hugely important).
  4. Give your child “Brain 101” (Flannery, 2015). Kids love to learn about their brains because they love learning about themselves. If you can teach your teen what is going on in his head, he will be empowered to make better decisions and practice honing his executive function skills.

Teenagers do crazy things because their brains are so amazing! “‘Teenagers are learning machines'” (Flannery, 2015). Even though it is tough, try to think of it as a wondrous adventure you and your teen are going on together. It is much easier than thinking of it as the battle or a time to “just get through” that is so often referred to.


References:

Dawson, M. & R. Guare. (2015). Smart but scattered: Helping teens strengthen executive skills to reach their full potential. The Science of Character: Using Brain Science to Raise Student Self-Regulation, Resilience and Respect. Boston: Learning and the Brain.

Flannery, M. E. (2015). Surviving the teenage brain: What educators should know. neaToday.org