When it comes to raising your kids, we know how frustrating it can be to put your whole heart into it over the years and continue seeing the same issues, the same misbehavior, the same fights, repeat themselves over and over again.
You read as many parenting books as you can get your hands on. You stay up sometimes for hours researching articles on the internet. You give it everything you have. And yet, the same issues keep popping up. And sometimes all you can do is snap:
“Stop that right now — or you’re grounded!”
“You can’t talk to me that way — go to your room!”
“Give me that toy — you won’t see it again till next week!”
We get it. We all want our kids to behave wisely… but in trying to help them toward that goal, sometimes we instead get caught in a spiral of angry behavior management.
Over the years, we’ve learned a different way to approach misbehavior and parenting — an approach that is full of God’s grace and truth for parents and kids.
When we get into those familiar power-struggle patterns with our kids, it can seem like every mess, every chore, every bedtime is a battleground. And we can feel like oft-ignored commanders — trying in vain to “remind” our children back to the straight-and-narrow.
But these transitions and tasks don’t have to be battlefields.
Instead, turn your conflict into collaboration with one simple but powerful tool: questions.
Have you ever gotten in a morning meltdown with your child? Have you ever witnessed a food-splosion in your kitchen? Have you ever been the recipient of a food-splosion in your kitchen?
We have, and since it’s #ThrowbackThursday, we thought we’d dust off this six-year-old, 3-minute-long gem of a YouTube video from CF Co-Founder Jim Jackson.
(Click the picture to watch the video.)
So remember, when your child is having a rough time and you feel like you just might explode too:
Stop. Breathe. Smile. Laugh! Remember not to take yourself (and your child’s misbehavior) quite so seriously.
Connect with your child. Remind yourself (and them!) that you love them, no matter what, even if they hurled a pile of Raisin Bran at you.
Enlist your child to help make it right. Son made a food mess? Teach him how to clean it up! Daughter stomped a plant during playtime? Teach her how to plant a new one! Not only does this teach kids important practical life skills, but they learn that they can be a part of the solution and not just the problem.
Recently, Connected Families Co-Founder Lynne Jackson sat down with CF Family Therapist Chad Hayenga to get his thoughts on why kids misbehave to get our attention and how we can help them to get our attention in healthy ways instead.
We highly recommend watching the whole five minutes, because Lynne and Chad cover some important reasons for kids’ misbehavior as well as three helpful, practical tips to help kids get attention in healthy ways. Here is a snippet from their interview:
Broken bones, scary surgeries, or moving to a new school — all these things can be traumatic experiences for kids to handle. How can parents best help their kids survive and even learn from difficult situations? To answer this question, Chad Hayenga sat down with CF co-founder Lynne Jackson.
According to Lynne, it really helps kids to process difficult circumstances using their whole brain. Here is an overview of the breakdown she gives in the video of how to help kids use all three major areas of their brain:
Left brain: language and logic. Explain to your child the facts of what’s going on – how to understand exactly what happened in the past, and/or what to anticipate in the future.
Right brain: emotions. Once you’ve talked about the facts, help your child give words to the feelings that they’re feeling about the situation.
Frontal lobe: planning. Facilitate your child in making a plan for what to do when they feel those feelings and encounter whatever is ahead.
From this launching point of facts, feelings, plan, you can use whatever difficulties your child is facing to help build in them an identity as one who perseveres, who overcomes tough stuff. In the words of one precocious little girl whose parents Lynne coached, “Dad, I love you. You helped me persevere with a cast on!”
Recently CF staffer Chad Hayenga sat down with Lynne Jackson to ask her about some of her early parenting struggles and how she overcame them.
Click the image above to watch the full video interview. Or, if you’d rather read, you can download the full transcript here. Below are some highlights from Chad and Lynne’s discussion.
What were the biggest struggles of your early parenting years?
Lynne: Well, we had a lot of crazy conflicts in our home, but the biggest problem was that we didn’t feel settled about how we were going to deal with them. I had the extremes of a very gentle, patient, never-spanked-me mother and some very conservative, rigid parenting videos that we would watch that said “Spank your child with every disobedience and every delay in obedience!” and I felt torn between those two.
Playing games with our kids can be a fun way to connect. But what happens when one or more of the children struggles with losing gracefully?
Enjoyable playtime can quickly morph into a frustrating outburst.
Kids are upset, other players are uncomfortable, and everyone may begin to tiptoe around the “sore loser” — or even be tempted to let them win all the time to avoid a meltdown! Parents may even begin to worry about their child’s future life as a “sore loser”. If he can’t lose a simple game of checkers, what will happen when he doesn’t make the basketball team? Or when he doesn’t get the promotion he wants?
It can be scary to watch your child spiral out of control — but there’s a better way, a way that can help you reclaim the fun of family game time while also helping your child learn to lose gracefully.
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