Help For Teaching Kids Self-Control

Young child out of control - what would you do?As parents we often react to your child’s misbehavior or emotional outburst by an emotional overreaction ourselves. This can make you feel out of control also. Tensions escalate and soon the whole situation becomes a much bigger issue then it really should have. Anger, blame, guilt, pleading and other extreme emotional reactions can make a parent feel upset and stressed for hours. This does not encourage positive behavior and overreactions can result in more bad behavior. As parents, mastering our own emotions and responses to unwanted behavior can also show your child good stress management techniques. If you respond in a calm manner, your child will feel calm and your child will calm down faster. One technique also to try is what I call the heartfelt touch which will be explained more below.
 
Your child will soon see their actions are not getting the response they were hoping for if you stay calm and collected during the bout of bad behavior. By managing your own emotions, your discipline will be more effective and it will help you feel calmer and more in control. 
 
Be prepared for those times and have your methods of dealing with them planned. Planned reactions to bad behavior can help you remain calm and in control and will ensure your discipline is the same each time. Having plans made in advance will help you control your emotions when the time comes for a response for bad behavior. Consistency is the answer to many discipline problems and if your response is the same after each episode of bad behavior, your child will recognize his behavior is unacceptable. 
 
As parents we also need to know our limits. We may be having a bad day and your child will often act out especially on that day because they can sense your mood. If you are emotionally distracted, angry, impatient, stressed, or sick it might be a good idea to relax the rules and expectations that day. It will be easier on you and less disrupting to your child. You should not tolerate bad behavior, but be sure to give yourself a time-out to allow your emotions to subside before you react. 
 
Knowing your child can help you better realize what works and does not work for them. You will find ways of disciplining your child and not hurt them emotionally. You must learn to distinguish between well thought out rule breaking and accidental infringement of the rules. You also should know how each of your children is different. Some may respond to a sharp command while other more sensitive children will fall apart at any hint of a harsh tone. If you are under control when the child is misbehaving, you will be able to distinguish between willful misbehavior and reaction to stress. It is very important to differentiate between the two.
 
Finding the right approach to calm down an out of control child can be a real challenge. Sometimes they may throw themselves into a temper tantrum for no reason at all, and all the talking and reasoning with them will do not good. I know from personal experience of two young boys!! Whats important when a child throws a temper tantrum and becomes out of control is to remain calm and make sure your child does not hurt themself.  This can be a real parenting challenge.
 
One calming method I learned when a child starts to become out of control, or is out of control is a heartfelt loving touch. Try a gentle touch on the shoulder, or better yet, if you can, right over the heart. If talking seems to agitate him or her just sit or stay there with the child, remain calm, and gently touch them over the heart. Its has amazed me what this simple technique can do and turn a crying or screaming child into a calm one, only then can you start to talk to him or her to find out what the real problem is. Remember, what may seem trivial to you can be a major event in a childs world.  
 
Remember, keep your emotions in check. If you act emotionally to your child’s behavior you may scare your child or reduce the trust they have in you. It may also be counterproductive to your discipline plan. If your child sees that they will be able to get an emotional response by doing specific actions, it will encourage them to continue the behavior that is unacceptable. If you do not feel you can deal with the situation without being overemotional, take a time-out for you! And if your partner is near, have him or her take over the situation. Sometimes a fresh perspective, or parent, can be a lifesaver.
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February 6, 2008

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