What do ‘big feelings’ and out-of-bounds behavior look like?
• Too silly, raging mad, end of the world tears, bursting with happy
• “You’re a poopy head!” “I’m going to hit you a million thousand times!” “I hate you!”
• Perpetual motion, bouncing off the walls, never hold still, everything done in a BIG way
Why is my child so out of control?
• New and grander stage of independence in the works
• Very few ways to express self, so explosiveness and expansiveness are the norm
• Working hard at learning more about who they are as individuals
What can I do?
• Understand this growth phase is a process that takes time
• Acknowledge and name the feeling: “You are mad that we have to leave. It’s hard for me to leave my friends, too.” “Oh, it’s frustrating when the zipper just won’t behave!” “I can see how sad you feel about not having a turn.”
• Show appropriate ways to express: What they can do with their feelings/behavior—“I can see you want to be loud! Inside libraries are for quiet voices. Let’s go outside where you can be as loud as you’d like.” “You can run fast! Let’s go find a good place for you to run fast.” “You feel mad. Hitting me hurts—we use gentle touches.
• Give choices and honor them by following through consistently with the result of their choice
When you view big feelings as an opportunity to grow rather than a problem to fix, what might you do differently?
Thoughts to consider to keep sanity in place…
• When are you most comfortable with your child’s big feelings? How can you bring that to other times?
• When is it easiest for you to remain calm and consistent when your child is “out of control”?
• In what ways does your behavior affect your child’s?
• How can pause help grow your ability to be calm and guide your child? What works for you to pause?
• Pause, find a place of calm, and then respond based on what you want the most—a child who manages him/herself well
What message is received when you calmly guide your child through their big feelings and out of bounds behavior?
• They feel heard and affirmed
• You have confidence in their growing ability to manage themselves
• They are capable, competent kids able to learn well
• They can count on you to keep it together when they cannot
• They feel safe and secure as they experience the upset of big feelings/out of bounds behavior
What will help you pause, and calmly and consistently follow through today?
Copyright©2013 Alice Hanscam, PCI Certified Parent Coach®
About the Author: Alice has pursued her passion for working with parents and children in a myriad of ways for over 30 years. She earned a degree in Child Study from Tufts University in Massachusetts in 1983 and obtained her graduate level certification as a Parent Coach from the Parent Coaching in 2008. The years in between were filled with teaching preschool, co-directing an infant/toddler center, mentoring daycare providers, teaching parent education classes, volunteering in schools and hospitals, and being a stay-at-home mother to two amazing (now young adult) daughters. The richness of the relationships she has formed over the years with the families she has worked with brought her to the PCI and her life’s calling as a Parent Coach. Alice is honored to work alongside parents who acknowledge the enormity of their job, to partner with them as they gain confidence and joy in their parenting and in their relationships. She believes that as we gain confidence, joy, and hope as parents, we will bring the same to the world around us. Find Alice at Denali Parent Coaching