"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they
are old they will not turn from it."
A 3 year old and Whining
It's all about choices...theirs, and ours!
There are a variety of ways to respond to these situations – depending on children’s ages, abilities, developmental stage, mood, their history and their relationship, etc. You also have options – to intervene minimally or not at all, perhaps. It’s often surprising how children can work out these issues on their own and move on. But, if you decide to intervene this is one way to be the teacher, the leader, the guide.
First, move toward and provide comfort and aid to the offended or hurt child. Do first aid if necessary. You can say things like, “Oooo, I’m so sorry. That looks like it could really hurt.” Or, “Oh! That must have startled you.” Continue to attend to the hurt child if there is a physical injury that needs tending to. Otherwise, simply provide sympathy and comfort accordingly being mindful not to prolong or overdo it.
Now, move toward and if possible, wrap your arms around or at least kneel next to the offender: Keep in mind and understand that the child who did the aggressing did it for a reason. If you can surmise what the reason is, say it. “Looks like you really wanted a turn with that and it was hard to wait until she was done with it so you decided just to grab it away from her.” Or, “I’d like to know what happened, would you please tell me what happened?” Listen carefully in an understanding, non-judgmental way to what they say. Respond by repeating what you think you heard them say. “I understand. It IS hard to wait sometimes, especially when it seems like it’s an extra long time.” Or, “It seemed to you that she was just playing with it for an extra long time just so you couldn’t play with it and that caused you to feel angry toward her.” If that could be the case, with your guidance, and they are able, you can encourage a conversation between the two of them about all the feelings and actions that occurred. At some point, though, you need to say to the offender, “I understand you were mad [or felt frustrated] but, hitting or grabbing (or whatever aggression they did) is not an ok thing to do. What would be ok is for you to say something like, “Hey, Sammie, I REALLY WANT a turn with that and you’ve had it for a LONG time! PLEASE can I have it now?”
Now, as your intervention is winding down, it may be a time for you to help the child who has acted aggressively to learn how to offer an apology, explain feelings or help fix what they broke – it’s a chance to make amends and move forward. This should be done without shaming or blaming anyone. Children are just learning about these social situations and adults have a responsibility to teach them how to handle them and move on. You can say, “Saying we’re sorry and apologizing for hurting someone can help everyone to start feeling better. I’m pretty sure your friend would appreciate knowing that you’re sorry for hurting her.” If the child won’t or doesn’t want to apologize or, is still too upset to do it, do not MAKE her/him say they are sorry; If you force them or insist that they go apologize they are simply going through the motions and it will be an empty act. The child who did the aggressing may just not be ready yet. Sometimes it takes a while for emotions to calm down enough to feel bad about what they did or to feel apologetic. Stay nearby. Do not try to make your child feel bad for not wanting or being able to apologize or even for being aggressive to begin with. That is shaming, and shaming is not helpful and has no place in the parent-child relationship.
Through your modeling and teaching children this way, they will learn more appropriate, less aggressive ways of communicating and will eventually truly feel sorry and express it naturally and sincerely when it does happen on occasion. You could ask her to let you know when she is possibly ready. Assure the child that if she needs help apologizing, that you will help her with that because you understand that it can be a hard thing to do. You can also offer, gently suggest or invite her to go with you to apologize. Even if she doesn’t say anything in the way of an apology, she will be listening to you and watching you as you apologize to the hurt child for her. As you reach out to comfort the hurt child you can say, “I’m sorry Alaina pulled your hair. I can tell that really hurt…. I’m really sorry. I hope you’ll feel better soon. Alaina was feeling frustrated because she really wanted a turn with the teapot. Next time she’ll try to remember to use her words and ask for a turn.” Then quickly be done. With a smile, change the subject or offer a choice of what to play next – “What sounds good… Playdough or Legos?”
Recently, a mom began our 2nd video-conference Parent Talk session together by sharing her excitement and hope about the changes she had started seeing in her home in just one week! She was anxious to share with me how she used the “Red Light-Green Light” technique to address her 3 year old and ‘whining’! This is what she said:
“Well, I practiced my script several times. Then, my daughter asked me for something in her typically whiny voice. I said, ‘Sophia, that’s whining. Whining doesn’t work with me because I can’t understand what you’re saying. If you want to ask me for something you need to talk to me a normal tone of voice so that I can understand you better. I may say yes, I may say no, but it’s most effective if you talk to me in a normal tone.’
And like, right away….It’s just amazing to see her reaction 'cause it’s like she just goes, ‘Oh! ok, well…that makes sense…’ And then she just goes with it…. She changes her tone! It’s like you were saying, Kathy - she’s saying to herself, ‘Oh! They’re taking charge.’ And we’re saying, ‘Is this really our same kid?! It works! Whining is leaving our home!
I’m just really glad that we found you and are learning these techniques! You have impacted our lives in such a positive way!”
hurts or offends another child
by Kathy Salazar
How would you complete this statement?
By the end of your first Parent Talk session you will have an exact script to use to begin eliminating any one of these behaviors or others you have been struggling with. You will do it in a very respectful manner with an appropriate, confident tone. You will feel empowered to be the parent you truly want to be. You will stop yelling and nagging. You will lead and teach, and your children will respect and follow you.
Parent Talk skills are applicable to all ages of children, 2 - 17 years.
Sound good? Call, text or email me today or anytime! firstname.lastname@example.org or 714-803-9928 to find out where the next class is being held or to inquire about a private video conference class for you and your spouse.
I consider it an honor to come alongside you to help you achieve what all parents want: to raise children that mature and grow into adults who are responsible, caring and confident. Join the thousands of families who have discovered that Parent Talk skills will change your family life!
What do you want?
THIS? OR THIS?
It's up to you !