Temper Tantrums in Public

When a child doesn’t get his way, generic he or she might throw a temper tantrum – a “fit” in which the youngster expresses rage both verbally and physically. While having a tantrum, a child might throw himself on the ground, kick and flail, cry, scream and shout verbal abuse or other types of hysterical rants. The tantrum can be a reaction to not getting a candy, a toy, or another object of desire. In fact, it can occur for any type of frustration. Sometimes, a child may throw a temper tantrum in public, which can be especially embarrassing and aggravating for parents to experience.

Public temper tantrums are normal for toddlers and pre-schoolers and also occasionally happen with school age kids. For pre-teens and teens though, this behavior is rare and is reason for concern and specialized intervention. No matter what age your child is, however, temper tantrums must always be addressed.

If your child has public temper tantrums, consider the following tips:

Stay Calm and Respectful
When your child throws a temper tantrum in public, you may be angered by the embarrassment he is causing you and you may be tempted to react the way you’re feeling. However, it is important to stay calm and not display any anger in this scenario. First of all, you are also in public at the same time as your child. No one wants to watch an angry parent make a scene, even if they understand your particular predicament. In addition to this, you are a role model for your child. If you react angrily to something you don’t like, you are showing him that anger is an acceptable reaction, which is exactly what you don’t want to show him here. Instead, speak slowly and calmly to him, despite your frustration and demonstrate the proper way one should react to frustration.

Use Emotional Coaching
When your child has a tantrum, you can briefly name his feelings. “I know you’re upset.” “I know you’re not happy about this.” There is no need to go beyond the simple naming of his feelings at this time when he is in an intense state of distress. Tantrums are not “teaching moments.” It is useless to try to get the child to understand anything while he is having a meltdown.

Don’t Reinforce Tantrum Behavior
When your child is having a tantrum, do not give him lots of attention or try to console him through hugs and the like. Do NOT give the child the thing he desires that is the subject of his tantrum (i.e. if he wanted you to buy him a toy and then threw a tantrum when you said no, don’t buy him the toy to stop his tantrum). If you give into his tantrum, you will only be encouraging this type of behavior in the future. He must learn that tantrums are not the way to get what he wants.

Teach Alternative Methods of Responding to Frustration
After the tantrum is over and your child is calm, teach him how to properly respond to frustration with the use of words instead of tantrums. Use the CLeaR method to reinforce his efforts. For instance, teach the child to say something like, “I’m not happy about this” on occasions that he is disturbed by your response to him. Then, if he asks you for a treat and you tell him that it is too close to dinner time and he remembers to say, “I’m not happy about this,” you can use the Comment, Label, Reward (CleaR Method) strategy to reinforce his appropriate behavior. You could say, for example, “You remembered to tell me your feelings in words! (Comment).”  “That’s very mature of you! (Label)” “Since you spoke so nicely even though you were frustrated, I’m going to change my mind and give you that treat after all (Reward).” See more about the CLeaR Method in Raise Your Child without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe.

Use Discipline
For children older than four, use the 2X-Rule (see Raise Your Child without Raising Your Voice) to discourage tantrums. Think of a negative consequence that will always follow a tantrum and tell the child that you will use it from now on, whenever he has a tantrum instead of using his words. In this way, the child’s brain will make the connection between his tantrum and something unpleasant happening afterwards. The next time he thinks of throwing a tantrum, he’ll think again!

For older kids and teens, attempt to explain how you feel when he throws a public tantrum and point out that there are far more appropriate ways to convey and handle distress and frustration. You may also try discipline (i.e. revoking certain valued privileges whenever he throws a public tantrum).

Consider Bach Flower Remedies
If your child is prone to frequent tantrums, consider the Bach Flower remedies Vine (for children who MUST have their own way – or else!), Cherry Plum (for those who lose control) and/or Impatiens (for those who quickly disintegrate when frustrated). Or, consult a Bach Flower Practitioner for assessment and recommendations. You can find more information about the Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.

Consider Professional Help
When children – especially older children and teens – continue to have tantrums despite your interventions, they may benefit from professional counseling or even anger-management training. Ask your pediatrician for an appropriate referral

Child is Aggressive

Parents are often perplexed by their aggressive child. They may not know why the child behaves as he does and they may also not know how to help change that behavior.

If your child is aggressive  – on occasion, sometimes or frequently – consider the following tips:

There are “Aggressive” Genes
Those children who are frequently aggressive may have inherited “aggressive” genes – or at least, the kind of genes that trigger aggressive responses. For instance, some kids have impulsivity – an inherited trait that leads to acting quickly and without considering the consequences of the action. Impulsive kids may grab toys from others, hit or push others who bother them, destroy property in anger and so on. They do it all without thinking of what’s going to happen next. Another inherited tendency is a strong-willed nature. Some kids are easy-going – they’re flexible and difficult to ruffle. But the strong-willed bunch may need things to go their way – or else. This stubborn nature can lead youngsters to feel threatened when things don’t happen the way they want them to and this sense of threat is associated with the fight-or-flight reaction in the body and the “fight” part of the chemical reaction often leads to aggressive behaviors. For instance, a child may want a book that his brother is holding in his hands. He asks for it repeatedly and the brother won’t give it. Because this one has a hard time backing down, giving up, walking away and finding something else to do – because he HAS to have what he WANTS – the fight-or-flight chemistry gets released and he lunges at his brother, shoving him down and grabbing the book that he wants. A “hot temper” is also an inherited trait. Some kids have virtually no temper while others are quickly and/or intensely triggered. The latter bunch may have trouble controlling those feelings and often end up behaving in more aggressive ways.

Adults who are aggressive have responded well to certain psychotropic medications like SSRI’s. This class of medicine not only relieves depression and anxiety, but it also seems to help tame the aggressive tendency.  A truly aggressive child – one who is being expelled from school after school because of an inability to control himself – should be evaluated for medical treatment. However, kids who are able to function well can also benefit from help for inherited aggressive tendencies. In this latter case, many kids will respond very well to the harmless naturopathic preparation called Bach Flower Remedies. In this group of 38 water-based remedies, quite a few are appropriate for taming aggression including Vine (for violent aggression, strong will), Impatiens (for high strung aggressive behavior), Holly (for aggression that occurs due to feeling insulted or mistreated) and Cherry Plum (for aggression that involves complete loss of control). Consult a Bach Flower Practitioner to prepare an individually tailored mixture of remedies for your youngster or read more about the remedies and make them yourself. Your child’s aggression will likely wane over time, as he or she takes the remedies. The remedies never subdue a person or change their character – they leave all the strong points in place! They simply help clear out troubled feelings.

Monkey See Monkey Do
Children who witness or experience aggression are much more likely to copy it. If you are currently using anger as a parenting tool, you need to be aware that it definitely increases aggressive behavior in kids. Read “Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice” in order to learn a variety of alternative non-angry strategies for getting kids to listen. It’s important that you don’t yell, physically punish or otherwise demonstrate aggressive behaviors. Moreover, your behavior toward your parenting partner (spouse, ex-spouse, etc.) needs to be completely unaggressive as well. Even road rage should be avoided! Children won’t copy you exactly – they’ll copy the general style. If you use aggression in your life, chances are very good that your kids will too.

Treat Aggressive Behavior Non-Aggressively
You need to help your child stop his aggressive behavior. When he is out of control, make sure you are very much IN control. Keep your voice quiet. Speak slowly. Don’t say much. Let the child know that there will be a consequence for his behavior, using the structure of the 2X-Rule outlined in “Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice.”  Do not ignore aggressive behavior. Everyone in your house is entitled to live in a safe, respectful environment, including yourself and your other children. Make this clear to the aggressive child. Aggression must always be disciplined in the home – just as it is disciplined in the society at large. No one is allowed to destroy property or hurt others without facing legal consequences. Similarly, there needs to be a system in place in the home where unacceptable behavior is consequenced. “The Relationship Rule” (see “Raise Your Kids..”) teaches children how to express their upset in respectful ways. Follow the five steps of teaching this rule to your whole family.  Look for signs of progress – less aggression,  better communication and self-control.

If normal, calm discipline and careful positive reinforcement for desirable, non-violent behavior, does not stop your child’s aggressive behavior, seek professional guidance. A mental health practitioner, family counselor or parent educator can offer you a variety of tools to encourage non-aggressive behavior and discourage aggressive behavior in your child. If you employ these strategies without success, take your child to a mental health practitioner for assessment and treatment

Child is Destructive

Children can be destructive for several reasons. Some are “innocently” destructive due to excess energy and poor judgment. Kids with ADHD, viagra dosage for instance, can play too wildly at times, accidentally causing damage to property through impulsive behavior. Other kids are destructive on purpose, acting out their anger, hurt or frustration. This sometimes occurs because of their inborn temperament, sometimes because of watching parents or older siblings behave similarly and sometimes a combination of both nature and nurture. Some kids are destructive only at home whereas others are destructive elsewhere as well. In all cases, parents need to know how to stop their child’s destructive actions.

If your child is destructive at times, consider the following tips:

Never Lose Control
The destructive child is out-of-control and needs to see a model of excellent self-control. No matter how upset you are with your child’s destructive behavior, control your own behavior! Even if your youngster broke your favorite, irreplaceable camera, heirloom or something similar, restrain yourself: no yelling, no touching the child, no name-calling, no verbal abuse of any kind. Instead, let the child know that you need to THINK about what you’re going to do about his behavior, and then leave the scene of the crime to do just that. If you lose control in front of your child, how can you expect him to behave differently?

Teach Your Child the Importance of Respecting Property
Let your child know that he can’t destroy property just because he’s upset. Explain to him the value (monetary or sentimental) of things and the consequences his actions have not only on himself in terms of getting punished, but on those whose property he destroys. Ask him how he would feel if someone broke or damaged his favorite toy or his bike. Let him know that when he destroys someone’s property, he’s making them feel the same way. The child may simply not fully understand the consequences his actions have.

Use the 2X-Rule
If your child continues to be destructive, warn him or her that acting in this way will result in a negative consequence in the future. You can say “From now on whenever you are destructive, you will lose “screens for that day.” or something along those lines. If the destruction is very serious (i.e. damaging a car or a house or causing expensive or severe damage to property), use “jail level” consequences (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice for a detailed explanation of discipline strategies, including “ticket” and “jail-level” negative consequences). “Jail level” consequences are punishments that your child would REALLY dislike. The “ticket-level” consequence of losing screens for a day can be annoying or slightly upsetting to children, but most will recover quickly. The “jail-level” consequence of losing screens for a week (or longer for an older child) however, might be something that the child really can’t bear. All children have different feelings about what is or isn’t important to them though. You should pick both regular, “ticket-level” consequences and very serious “jail-level” consequences according to your own child’s value system. If losing a story at bedtime is upsetting enough, that can be a consequence for playing with balls in the living room after being told not to do so. For another child, losing dessert will be the language he understands best. For a child who has painted your walls with magic marker, you might warn that future occurrences of this very destructive behavior will cost the child significant portions of his allowance or the privilege of riding his new bike. See Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice for an extended list of negative consequences.

Teach Anger-Management strategies
If your child’s destructive behavior occurs mostly when he’s angry, teach him alternative ways of handling this strong emotion. There are many techniques and strategies to help your child manage his anger and many internet resources and books on this subject. Some tips that you may find helpful include:

  • Teach your child to think about the situation and it’s consequences before he acts.
  • Teach breathing techniques to your child. These can help calm your child down in moments of anger. One simple technique your child can use is to think the word “in” while breathing in and think the word “out” while breathing out. Have him practice nightly at bedtime in order for this technique to be truly available and calming in a moment of upset.
  • Teach him how to communicate his feelings in the right way when he is angry.
  • Teach him how to be able to “let go” after upset has occurred.
  • Anger and tantrums can often come about after a build up of stress, so teach your child stress reduction methods as well.

Use the CLeaR Method
In the CLeaR method, a parent gives the child a comment on what he is doing correctly, a label on how he is acting, and a reward to reinforce positive behavior. If your child is often reckless and careless while playing but is at the moment playing quite appropriately, give him a comment – “I see that you’re being careful with your toys today.” a label -“That’s very mature of you.” followed by a reward -“You can play outside for longer today since you’re being so careful.” when he plays carefully.

Consider Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can ease emotional distress and even prevent it from occurring in the future. If your child exhibits violent rage that leads to destruction of property, the flower remedy Vine may help him. For loss of control, the flower remedy Cherry Plum is used. If your child has meltdowns when provoked, you can try the remedy Impatiens. You can mix several remedies together in one treatment bottle. To do so, you fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until the negative behavior disappears. Start treatment again, if the behavior returns. Eventually, the behavior should diminish completely.

Seek Professional Help
If your child continues to exhibit destructive behavior despite all the interventions you employ, it is best to arrange for professional assessment and treatment. It is possible that you need a “tighter” educational approach and it is also possible that your child him or herself, will benefit from therapeutic intervention. Ask your doctor for a referral to a pediatric mental health professional.

Strategies for Dealing with Misbehavior

All kids misbehave from time to time. Parents need to know how to handle misbehavior WITHOUT harming their child. Frequent anger, excessive criticism, over-punishment and other harsh interventions are strategies that are likely to cause more misbehavior rather than less. Moreover, these strategies also cause various emotional difficulties in children and can, when intense enough, harm the parent-child relationship. Fortunately, parents can learn a set of tools that will help them correct their kids in positive ways. With these tolls, parents will find themselves taking firm but quiet control, finding ways to respectfully teach their kids right from wrong.

If your child ever misbehaves, consider the following tips:

Reasons for Misbehavior
Your child may misbehave for all kinds of reasons. Some misbehavior is actually accidental – like when a child just isn’t paying attention (i.e. when he runs around the house and breaks something). Or, he might be experimenting and testing the limits of what he can get away with. Maybe he seeks the intense attention his parents give to his negative behavior. Or maybe there’s a physiological reason for the misbehavior such as fatigue, hunger or illness – or a biologically based mental health condition like ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, etc. Your child (usually!) isn’t an evil person who consciously intends to make your life hard. There’s generally a reason for his or her misbehavior.

Attend to and Reinforce Desirable Behaviors
The CLeaR method is one super-charged way that you can reinforce positive behavior; it is described in full in Sarah Chana Radcliffe’s book, Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice. Use of the CLeaR Method involves 3 steps: comment, label and (sometimes) reward. An example using the CLeaR Method would be this scenario of a child who has a bad habit of climbing on counters to help himself to cookies. One day, the child remembers to ASK for a cookie, to which the parent responds“You asked me for a cookie instead of trying to climb on the counter.” (Comment), “That’s very mature of you!” (Label), “Yes, go ahead and take a cookie.” (Reward). The CLeaR Method requires forethought and actual planning, but it is truly effective when used consistently and correctly. With this method, your child learns to associate appropriate behavior with positive feelings, causing him to become more likely to do the “right” thing in the future.

Reward charts can also be used to encourage desirable behaviors. These are more fun and more successful than using tools like criticism, correction and punishment to address the negative behavior. For instance, instead of yelling at a child for leaving his shoes in the hallway, you can put up a star chart in front of the shoe cupboard and ask the child to give himself a star whenever he puts his shoes away properly. When he accumulates a certain number of stars, he gets a small prize.

Even praise, smiles and other simple signs of pleasure applied to DESIRABLE behaviors are preferable to negative feedback for undesirable behaviors. Nonetheless, positive strategies alone do not always eradicate misbehavior. See below for how to use discipline constructively when necessary.

Follow the 80-20 Rule (90-10 for teens)
In the 80-20 rule, 80% of communications between parent and child must be positive, while only 20% can be negative. Negative communications include criticism of any kind, behavior tips, and rebuke. For teens the ratio is 90%-10% as teens become less tolerant of criticism. Too much negative interaction with your child can lead to rebelliousness and damage the parent-child relationship. The 80-20 rule can dramatically decrease misbehavior while it fosters cooperation. Learn more about The 80-20 Rule in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice.

Get in the Habit of using Emotional Coaching
Emotional coaching can be a great tool to help reduce misbehavior. It involves naming a child’s feelings. When your child misbehaves you can begin your intervention by acknowledging the feelings prompting his behavior (i.e. “I know it’s fun to throw rocks.” or “I know you want to have a cookie right now.”). Then, offer your correction (i.e. “Throwing rocks is dangerous.” or “You can’t take cookies without asking permission.”) Make sure not to join the acknowledgment of the behavior with the reason why he can’t do it with the word “but” (i.e. “I know it’s fun to throw rocks but it’s dangerous.”). Using the word “but” is akin to saying, “I know you like this but I don’t care.” so try to avoid using it here. Emotional coaching makes the child feel understood and accepted, even when his behavior is unacceptable. As a result, the child is more likely to want to cooperate with the parents’ requests. This method can greatly reduce misbehavior and encourages compliance.

Avoid Bribes and use Grandma’s Rule
Instead of saying, “If you clean up your toys, you’ll get a treat” (which is a bribe), try saying, “After you’ve cleaned up your toys, you can have a piece of cake” (which is the structure used in Grandma’s Rule). The word “if” denotes the option of doing or not doing something, when in fact you don’t want to give your child that option. The words “after,” “as soon as,” or “when” indicate that the behavior will be accomplished – it’s only a matter of when. The reward will be forthcoming WHEN the behavior is done, not “if” it is done!

Use the 2X-Rule When You Need to Discipline
Sometimes it is necessary to use discipline to reduce negative behavior. The 2X Rule (as described in the book Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice) is a good rule to follow. When your child misbehaves (i.e. hits his sister) tell him that he should refrain from the improper behavior, tell him why he should refrain and tell him what he should do instead of that behavior. That is called Step One. If the child does the misbehavior again, you’ll be on Step Two of the 2X-Rule. Here, you’ll repeat Step One and then warn him that if repeats that behavior again he will receive a negative consequence. You could say something like, “The next time you hit your sister, you will lose your computer privileges for the rest of the day.” Children are more likely to think about what they’re doing before they do it when faced with a consequence. Make sure to follow up with whatever consequence you promised (be reasonable) so that your child takes you seriously. If the misbehavior happens routinely, use the rule version of the 2X-Rule, which, on Step Two, sounds more like this: “From now on, whenever you hurt your sister, such and such consequence will occur.”

Experiment with Different Approaches
There is no one-size-fits-all approaches to parenting. What works with one child in the family may just not work with another. Therefore, read a few books, join a few forums, take a few parenting classes! You may learn a new strategy that really helps THIS child improve his or her behavior.

Try Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can ease improve your child’s behavior in addition to other things. Some flower remedies that can help a child who often misbehaves include Holly, Vine and Chestnut Bud. Vine is for the child who wants to do what he wants to do, no matter what you want him to do (strong-willed). Chestnut Bud is the remedy for the child that simply doesn’t learn from his mistakes and punishments, and repeats bad behavior over and over again. Holly is used for children who are jealous (i.e. jealous of a brother’s toy) and misbehave as a result. You can mix remedies together and take them at the same time. To do so, you fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until the behavior improves. Start treatment again, if the behavior degrades. Eventually, the behavior will improve completely.

Consider Professional Help
If your misbehavior is part of a larger picture of negativity or defiance, and your interventions have not helped sufficiently, consider seeking out the help or assessment of a professional mental health practitioner.

Children’s Emotions After Divorce or Separation

Parental divorce or separation is a painful process — for everyone concerned. No amount of careful preparation, heart-to-heart talk, and therapy can make it less agonizing— just more manageable. After all, a loved one is technically saying goodbye. Even if everyone remains be a part of each other’s lives after the marital dissolution, the reality is: nothing will ever be the same.

In order to help children deal with the impact of divorce or separation, it’s important that parents know the roller-coaster of emotions kids go through during the process. The following are some of what children feel after divorce or separation:

“I knew the situation was bad, but I wasn’t aware it was that bad.”

Kids are often blindsided by their parent’s decision to divorce or separate. To protect children from family problems, parents tend to keep their kids out of the loop. Consequently, the news of finally ending the marriage comes as a big shock. And even if some outward sign of fighting exists, kids being naturally optimistic often think that the fighting is temporary and can be resolved. Even in homes where divorce is threatened openly and frequently, children often “get used” to the threat as just a common part of fighting – they can still be shocked when parents finally act on their words. Children who may not be so shocked are those who have experienced parental divorce before, and have some idea of what is going on.

Anger is a normal emotion felt by children undergoing parental divorce and separation. The anger can be directed towards one particular parent, the parent whom the child feels is to blame for the marriage not working out. The anger can also be directed to both parents; kids may feel that mom and dad didn’t try hard enough to save their family. In some cases, children may just be angry at the situation. They empathize with their parents well enough, but they would understandably rather that they don’t suffer such a major loss.

Children do blame themselves for parental divorce or separation. Because of the old philosophy of “staying married for the children’s sake,” kids may have the idea that parental love of kids should be enough to keep a couple together. Thus, when a marriage breaks down, kids feel like they failed in providing their parents a reason to try harder. Older children may blame themselves for not doing enough to save the marriage — maybe they’ve already noticed that something is wrong but didn’t say anything about it. Younger children may think that the divorce or separation is directly or indirectly caused by their behavior. It’s not unusual, for example, for a pre-schooler to irrationally conclude that the divorce or separation pushed through because parents are always fighting about their performance in school.

The source of security in a family is the parents’ stable marriage. A divorce or separation, therefore, can be quite unsettling for a child. Where would the family live? How will they earn enough income to support everyone? Would we have to live with somebody new? And are there any more jarring changes coming our way? There are so many question marks after a divorce or separation that being afraid is just an expected reaction.

And of course, kids feel sadness and even depression during this stressful time. There are many losses that come after a divorce or separation, some of which can never be recovered. Understandably a new living arrangement has to be negotiated, and it’s possible that a child will have to give up proximity to a parent once all the legalities are finalized. Siblings may even end up living in different residences. There are also intangible losses, like the loss of dreams about the family. Sadness is a natural part of grieving for a loss, and is a normal reaction among children during parental divorce or separation.

Dealing with Children’s Feelings
The key to helping children with their feelings about divorce is to let them have their feelings. Don’t try to cheer them up or talk them out of their negative emotions. Doing so may cause the feelings to go underground where they might fester, show up as depression or anxiety later, re-route to physical aches and pains or manifest in various types of behavioral challenges. Letting kids be appropriately upset is the healthiest way to help them feel better faster. This is NOT the time to show sympathy by letting them know that YOU also feel scared, mad and sad. Save your feelings for your meeting with your therapist or for discussion with your adult friends. Your kids have already lost one parent; they must not lose another. They really need you now and even though you yourself may be going through intense emotional challenges, it is unfair to unload that onto your children. They will feel that they have to be strong and help YOU or they will feel that they don’t want to add to your burdens by sharing their real misery. What they need from you now is a listening ear and a good model of coping. When they see that you are NOT falling apart, it will give them hope that they will get through this too. If you are, in fact, having a very hard time, seeking professional counseling will help both you and your kids.

Toddler Hates Doctor

Toddlers – at least the clever ones – have figured out that a visit to the doctor often means pain of some kind. Whether it’s a routine needle or an examination of a sore spot on the body, site the toddler may react intensely with tears or even tantrums. Subsequent visits are met with intense resistance; the child refuses to walk into the doctor’s office. Screaming toddlers can be difficult to lift and carry, viagra 40mg so this resistance poses a serious dilemma for parents.

If your child “hates the doctor, help ” consider the following tips:

Try using Emotional Coaching
Even if your child hates her doctor, going there is mandatory. To lessen the struggle in getting her to do so, try using emotional coaching. Emotional coaching is the naming (and accepting) of the child’s feelings. In this case, try telling your child things like, “I know you hate the doctor.” or “That doctor gave you a needle last time which you didn’t like.” Show you child you understand her feelings and are listening to her. Your sympathy and understanding does not mean she will not have to go. It simply will make getting her to go easier as she is able to release some of her feelings towards the doctor. Emotional Coaching is the opposite of discounting – a technique in which the parent tries to talk a child OUT of her feelings by saying things like, “Oh, it won’t be so bad,” or “Oh, you really like the doctor, remember?” Ironically, the acceptance of the feeling as it is  (“I know you don’t want to go”) helps the feeling to disappear much faster than any form of disagreement about it or discounting. If nothing else, the parent’s acceptance of the feeling makes the child feel less antagonistic and more friendly toward the parent. This can help increase cooperation.

Reward Compliance When at the Doctor’s Office
Once you’ve arrived at the doctor’s office (however you managed to get there!), try to make the experience as positive and rewarding as possible. Bring along food treats to give to your child. Get her stickers if the doctor’s office gives them out (if not, get her a reward of your own). Let your child bring along a favorite stuffed animal, so the doctor can examine it as well! Provide as much positive reinforcement as you can for good behavior and compliance with the doctor, even though she may hate him or her. Making the experience a positive one for your child can make the ordeal a lot easier for you now and in the future.

Some Children are Very Strong-willed
If your child simply refuses to go the doctor despite your interventions, try using discipline and the 2X Rule (see Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice). Explain to your child why it is important to see the doctor, even if she hates to see him or her. If your child still doesn’t want to come, warn her that there will be a consequence if she doesn’t cooperate with you. For instance you can say, “If you don’t come with me to the doctor, I’ll have to carry you into his office (into the car or wherever) and because of that you will not be allowed to play with your (name favorite toy) today.” Pick any consequence that you think might provide motivation for your child to cooperate. Even if she does not do an immediate turn-around, the punishment can help reduce future non-compliance.

Foster Cooperation with Grandma’s Rule
In Grandma’s Rule, the parent avoids bribing the child. Try not to tell your daughter, “If you go to the doctor you’ll get to watch your new movie.” There should be no “if” in your sentence. After all, you are not making the doctor’s visit optional. Your child IS going to the doctor. Therefore, replace the word “if” with the word “when,” “as soon as,” or “after,” as in “After we’re finished at the doctor, you’ll be able to watch your new movie,” or “As soon as you get into your car seat, you can have your treat,” or “When you get your coat on, I’ll give you your teddy.”

Let the Doctor Know
The doctor may be able to help change the child’s feelings, so do let the doctor know what you are going through with your toddler. Once the doctor understands the problem, he or she may make extra efforts to help the child find the visit fun or at least much more tolerable.

Consider Bach Flower Therapy to Help Reduce Emotional Distress
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can ease emotional distress and even prevent it from occurring in the future. If your child is very strong willed and refuses to go to the doctor you can offer the remedy Vine. For little ones who are having temper tantrums or meltdowns, you can offer the pre-mixed Bach Remedy called Rescue Remedy. This mixture can actually turn off a tantrum: you can put a few drops of it on the child’s pulse points, or, if he’ll let you – you can put 4 drops in a small glass of water or milk and offer sips every couple of minutes. This process might make it easier to actually get to the doctor’s office and it can certainly help increase your child’s calm once he or she is in the office. Rescue remedy is a mixture of different bach flower remedies, useful in all times of intense fear, worry or distress. To prevent future problems with the doctor, you can give your child Bach Flower Remedies daily until you feel that the fear or negativity has completely receded. You can mix several remedies together in one treatment bottle, choosing those remedies that you feel are most suitable for your child. Some to consider are: Mimulus (for specific fears), Vine (for stubborn, strong-willed or defiant behavior), Rock Rose (for panic), Cherry Plum (for out-of-control behaviors like meltdowns), and Holly (for anger). To prepare a treatment bottle, fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until the problem seems sufficiently improved. Start treatment again, if it returns. Over time, Bach Flower Therapy can help the child react much more calmly to the idea of a medical visit!

Child Won’t Brush Teeth

Sometimes children don’t want to brush their teeth. Whether they don’t want to brush because they’re too impatient or they find it annoying, stomach or they don’t like the taste of the toothpaste – or for any other reason – getting them to attend to this important task can present a daily parental challenge. As good oral and dental hygiene is important for children’s health, see parents naturally want to help their kids develop proper habits of routine brushing.

If your child doesn’t want to brush his or her teeth for whatever reason, nurse consider the following tips:

Try using Emotional Coaching
When your child doesn’t want to brush his teeth, you can try using emotional coaching. Emotional coaching is the naming of feelings. If your child finds brushing his teeth to be an annoyance you can say “I know you don’t enjoy brushing your teeth.” If he would rather play instead of brushing his teeth, you can say things like “I know you’d rather be doing something more exciting than brushing your teeth.” Articulate whatever negative feeling he has about brushing his teeth and let him know that you understand his feelings. After all, from a kid’s point of view, how much fun is it to brush one’s teeth? Emotional coaching actually reduces resistance. When a parent shows simple understanding and can even relate to the truth of what the child is saying, then the child is more likely to cooperate. He is not so inclined to battle it out when he can see that his parent is truly sympathetic. Of course, this only works when the parent is truly sympathetic; always try to really understand your child’s feelings from a child’s point of view. Saying empty words has the opposite effect. Children can see when you are patronizing them and this INCREASES resistance rather than decreases it.

Use the CLeaR method
In the CLeaR method, appropriate behavior is reinforced by providing your child 3 kinds of positive attention: a comment about the appropriate behavior, a label that describes the behavior and, in some cases, a reward for the behavior. To encourage more tooth-brushing, a parent might use the CLeaR Method whenever he or she notices that the child has brushed or flossed. It might sound something like this: “I see you brushed you teeth today” (a positive comment), followed by “You’ve got great hygiene!” (‘great hygiene’ being a label that describes someone who brushes his teeth). “And because you remembered to do that, I think tonight would be a good night to have that ice cream we were talking about. I know that you’ll do a good job of brushing them again tonight.” (Offering a reward for desirable behavior).

Use the 2X Rule
If your child refuses to brush his teeth on a routine basis, use the 2X rule. In the 2X rule, you warn your child about the possibility of a negative consequence if there is disobedience. For instance, you can say to a brush-resistant youngster, “You need to brush your teeth before going to sleep.” If the child ‘forgets’ and doesn’t brush before bed, you then say, “From now on, when you don’t remember to brush your teeth before bed, you will have go and brush them when I come to say goodnight and you will miss having your bedtime story.”  You can learn more about The 2X-Rule in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice.

Encourage Independence
If your child simply doesn’t want to brush his teeth by himself but will brush them with your assistance, then try to encourage independence. One way to do this is to create a reward chart. When your child brushes his teeth by himself, have him place a sticker on the chart. When the chart has X amount of stickers, the child can get a reward. In this way your child can become more comfortable brushing his teeth alone.

Make it Fun and Enjoyable
If your child doesn’t want to brush his teeth because he finds it boring, try implementing these ideas:

  • Have races to see how quickly your child can brush his teeth. Show him that it doesn’t actually take that long.
  • Get interesting or colorful toothbrushes. If your child likes a particular movie franchise, comic book hero, or other entertainment icon, chances are there will be toothbrushes decorated like one of them available for purchase.
  • Get interesting or flavored toothpaste. Just like the entertainment industry has toothbrushes available, toothpaste containers also may be decorated the same way. Additionally, toothpastes of all kinds of flavors and colors exist today. Check your local shopping mart to see what they have available.
  • Talk to your child while he’s brushing (quality time).

Consider Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can help improve a child’s behavior. The flower remedy Vine can help strong-willed and defiant children who refuse to brush their teeth. For negative kids who complain about everything you can use the remedy Beech. You can mix several remedies together in one treatment bottle. To do so, you fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until behavior shows improvement. Start treatment again, if the behavior worsens. Eventually, the behavior changes should become permanent.

Bath-Time Battles with School-Age Children

Babies and toddlers aren’t the only ones who may have trouble with bath-time. Even school age kids can give you a hard time when you try to get them to have a bath. Though some children may not like getting wet, purchase or worry about getting soap in their eyes, decease often the biggest issue with school age kids and bath-time is the fact that it’s just feels like a waste of time to them: they’d rather be playing.

If your child is “bath-time challenged” consider the following tips:

Use Emotional Coaching
Let your child know that you hear and understand his feelings about bath-time. Whether he considers it a waste of time or he has some other reason for this aversion to baths, capsule show that you care. Say things like “I know you find baths boring.” or “I know you’d rather be on your computer instead of having a bath.” Your child will still have to have a bath, but he’ll be able to release some of his feelings towards bath-time when you use emotional coaching. Emotional Coaching tends to increase a child’s willingness to cooperate and decrease his tendency to fight and argue, because he experiences the friendly, compassionate attitude of the parent.

Use the CLeaR method
The CLeaR method’s system of commenting, labeling and rewarding appropriate behavior can be helpful in getting your child to take baths routinely. (Learn the details about The Clear Method in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice).When your child has a bath without giving you trouble, say something like, “You got ready for your bath right away.” (Comment), “That’s very cooperative of you!” (Label), “I think there’s an extra piece of cake in the fridge, why don’t you go and have it for your snack tonight? (Reward). This system helps to reinforce your child’s positive behavior and can make the behavior continue in the future.

Make it Interesting
If your child finds baths boring, try making them more enjoyable or interesting. Get colored or fragranced soaps and bubbles for your child’s baths. Or maybe get a special bathrobe or something similar that can be special for bathtime. (Bathrobes may be designed like comic book heroes or movie characters.  You may be able to find one that your child can’t wait to wear!).

Make Sure it’s Routine
If you tell your child to have a bath at different times or days of the week, it can be disruptive to whatever he or she is doing. Instead, consider developing a regular bath schedule (i.e. baths on Mondays and Thursdays) so that your child is psychologically prepared for his or her bath. This can help the child plan for baths and get ready more easily.

Use “Grandma’s Rule.” Avoid bribes like, “If you have a bath you can have a cookie.” Instead, use Grandma’s Rule which is constructed with “When” and “Then”  or “As soon as,” and “Then.” For instance you might say something like “As soon as you’ve finished your bath, then can have your cookie.” Grandma’s Rule puts the parent in charge of the situation rather than the child. It also prevents the child from “black-mailing” the parent with sentences like “what will you give me if I listen to you?”

Use the 2X Rule
If your child refuses to have a bath, warn him or her that continued refusal will result in a negative consequence like losing computer time or some other privilege.

Consider Bach Flower Remedies
Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless water-based naturopathic treatment that can improve behavior in addition to other things. For children who are defiant or strong willed, tending not to cooperate with anything, including their baths, the flower remedy Vine can help. For children who complain about everything (i.e. “Why do I have to take a bath now, I don’t like baths!”) the remedy Beech can help. You can mix several remedies together in one treatment bottle. To do so, you fill a one-ounce Bach Mixing Bottle with water (a mixing bottle is an empty bottle with a glass dropper, sold in health food stores along with Bach Flower Remedies). Next, add two drops of each remedy that you want to use. Finally, add one teaspoon of brandy. The bottle is now ready to use. Give your child 4 drops of the mixture in any liquid (juice, water, milk, tea, etc.) four times a day (morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening). Remedies can be taken with or without food. Continue this treatment until the behavior improves and bath-time becomes easier. Start treatment again, if the behavior degrades. Eventually, the behavior will improve permanently.

Consider Professional Help
If hating the bath is part of a larger picture of negativity or defiance, and your interventions have not helped sufficiently, consider seeking out the help or assessment of a mental health practitioner.

Rudeness and Disrespect

It once was that children feared their parents; nowadays, it’s more likely to be the other way around. Parents are often afraid of their own kids. Modern parents frequently feel helpless with their children and all the more so with their bigger kids. While they try to set up rules, set limits and run a tight ship, they find that their kids ignore the rules, break the boundaries and do whatever they want. Their disregard for parental authority applies to both action and words. It is no longer uncommon for children ten years old and up (old enough to know better) to impulsively blurt out whatever they want to, however they want to. If they want to holler, they will. If they want to hurl insults, they will. They’ll swear, threaten, get physical and do whatever else they feel like doing when they are displeased, upset or outraged. Disgruntled teens talk back.

Naturally, if a parent responds negatively to a child’s request, the youngster will feel at least displeased, possibly upset and on occasion, outraged. Feelings happen. However, many young people don’t seem to know how to express negative feelings in a way that preserves their dignity, preserves the dignity of others and maintains healthy, loving relationships. Mouthy teenagers do not only harm their parents; they harm themselves as well. Out-of-control teens (adolescents who are not thinking of the long-term consequences of their words or actions) experience more daily pain than their in-control counterparts. When teenagers know how to express their upset with sensitivity to the feelings of others (in this case, parents), they will enjoy all the benefits that good communication skills bring: peace in the home, emotional well-being, emotional love and support, mental stability and even, improved physical health.

Insisting on Respect
Parents will actually do their kids the favor of a lifetime if they are willing to insist on respectful communication. Parents who let their adolescents talk back disrespectfully actually help these children build strong brain pathways for verbal abuse. When these young people get married, those pathways will be solid as rock. Consequently, when feelings of frustration, anger and disappointment are triggered by their new spouses, their abusive brain pathways will light up and BAM: out will spew rude and hurtful words that will burn a deep whole in the new relationship. Rude teenagers grow up to be rude spouses. Rude teens can even grow up to be rude parents! Maturity does not bring respect. Education and training does.

By insisting on respect, parents can help their children build strong brain pathways for self-control. While adrenalin is running, triggered by intense feelings of upset, the self-control pathways will light up. Although the young person may feel like slamming a door, screaming or ranting, he or she will quietly utter a statement instead. “I’m not happy about this” or “I want to talk with you about this again later” or “Is there any way you might reconsider?” or “Would it help if I did such & such?” and so on.

Let’s take an example. Suppose 13 year-old Suzy asks Mom if she can go to a party that 17 year-old Joey is making Saturday night. Mom feels that Suzy is too young for this kind of party and says, “I know you’d really like to go Sweetheart. Unfortunately, I feel Joey and his friends are too old for you. I don’t want you to go.”

Suzy is more than upset. She is hysterical. So she answers back: “I’M NOT LISTENING TO ANYTHING YOU SAY. I’M GOING AND THAT’S IT. THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN STOP ME!”

Mom has two choices: either ignore the disrespect or address it. If Mom ignores the disrespect she has two choices: she can pretend nothing happened and simply respond to Suzy’s words (i.e. answering fairly calmly, “We’ll see about that.”) or she can actually join in the disrespect by shouting or insulting back (i.e. “TRY IT YOUNG LADY AND YOU’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU!). Either way, ignoring the disrespect ensures that more disrespect will be coming in the future. Ignoring allows the teen to build up the disrespect neural pathway in the brain. Failure to deal with disrespect is actually a form of parental neglect because when the child goes on to have trouble in other significant relationships, it will be due to the fact that no one ever taught her how to express displeasure sensitively. (In fact, if Mom actually screams back, she is actually modeling the dysfunctional communication strategy of yelling when upset).

So let’s hope that Mom decides to address the disrespect. If she does, she has two choices: either she can stop the conversation then and there and deal with the disrespect immediately, or she can wait until things are calmer later on and deal with the disrespect at that time. In this case, it is good to follow the concept of the “teaching moment” as described in the book Raising Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe. A true “teaching moment” is one in which both the parent and the child are calm and relaxed. Since the child in this example is currently hysterical, the period cannot be called a “teaching moment.” Mom decides to wait until later to teach her daughter  how to express displeasure sensitively.

The Relationship Rule
If a child has been taught The Relationship Rule while very young, it is extremely unlikely that he or she will be rude to a parent in adolescence. Indeed, the younger the child is when self-control is taught, the less likely it is that the child will ever talk back, insult or otherwise hurt a parent’s feelings or diminish a parent’s stature. However, The Relationship Rule can certainly be taught to teenagers (or even spouses!). Some patience will be required, however, to allow time for new brain pathways to form and for this new mode of communication to become the fall-back position during moments of emotional stress.

The Relationship Rule can be put in two ways – the positive and the negative forms:

  • I only give and I only accept respectful communication.
  • I do not give, nor do I accept, disrespectful communication.

A parent teaches The Relationship Rule in 5 simple steps (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice for complete details). Step One involves teaching the actual rule by providing the rationale for the rule (especially for older children and teens) and by giving numerous examples, role-plays and re-enactments in order to see how this rule is applied under stressful conditions. After providing education and examples, the parent tests the teen. The parent asks, for instance, what is the wrong way for a son to respond to a parent who has refused to buy an MP3 player for him? What is the right way?

Step Five, the last step of the training program, employs negative consequences. Before this step, no punishments are used for disrespectful speech because all steps before this last one are designed to actually train the child’s brain to be respectful. The intervening steps allow the parent to be empathic and responsive to the child’s feelings. The last step is employed only to prevent regressing back to the old brain pattern.

Teaching The Relationship Rule means both teaching it through instruction and guidance, and also modeling it. Obviously parents themselves must have the self-control to continue to be sensitive to the feelings of others even when they themselves are intensely upset. Many parents will be challenged in this area since their own parents didn’t raise them with The Relationship Rule. However, the family that learns together, grows together. It’s fine for parents and kids to improve at the same time. All that is required is sincerity (i.e the parent acknowledges mistakes and actually reduces their frequency over time).

Sometimes, lack of education is not the only culprit in a teenager’s trouble with respect. There can be other issues such as undiagnosed mental health conditions and deeper emotional problems. If, after applying The Relationship Rule, improvement is not forthcoming, do arrange for a consultation for your family with a professional mental health provider.

Toddler Hurts People

Two year-olds can be cute – but not when they’re being aggressive. Little guys who don’t get their way may become downright unpleasant – biting, hitting and throwing things and generally wreaking havoc. Some are rough with their baby siblings. Some are rough with their older siblings! Many are rough with their parents, babysitters and nannies.

What makes a two year old that tough? Some grown men and women feel helpless in the presence of their raging toddler. The energy and sheer endurance of a furious small person can frighten and overwhelm anyone of any age. They may be short, but they can definitely be loud, dramatic and even violent. In fact, this is their one self-defence tool: their ability to be out-of-control!

Of course, not all toddlers get extremely aggressive. Some by nature are very meek and mild and just not capable of great tantrums. Most can carry out a good tantrum once in awhile. And some are born experts. Somewhere in their genes they inherit a strong opinion, a strong will and a strong temper. The combination shows up when they feel frustrated or thwarted.

What to Do
Stay calm! A raging toddler doesn’t need a raging adult in his presence. He needs someone sane and in control  – especially to model these traits! He also needs a calm adult to help him return to a calm state. So take a deep breath and sit down. This helps turn off your own adrenalin response. Speak v-e-r-y slowly to a raging toddler. Speak in a quiet, low tone of voice. “I’m waiting for you to stop crying screaming/throwing/hitting.” By putting yourself in a controlled state, you will be sending out calming vibrations to the child. You can further help, if you like, by dropping 4 drops of the Bach Remedy called Rescue Remedy into a small glass of water and taking sips every few minutes to help you stay calm, and trying to give your upset youngster sips to help calm her down as well. If a child is lashing out you can just put a few drops of the Rescue Remedy water right on her arms or any other part of her body. Rescue Remedy comes in a spray form too so you might find that handy. Although it isn’t “magic” you may find that it quickly helps an angry child to get back to herself. (You can find more information on Rescue Remedy and the Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site).

When the toddler’s “fit” has ended, apply the 2X-Rule (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe for more information). Tell him that tantrums/aggression/yelling and so on, are unacceptable ways of expressing upset. Tell him that he can use his words to describe upset (like “I’m not happy now” or “I don’t like that” or “I don’t want that”). If the child hasn’t got enough language yet to express emotions, then show the child how to fold his arms and look unhappy or give him a sign-language word for “mad.”  Then tell him that if he gets aggressive again, he will have to spend some time in a thinking chair. On the next occasion that the child lashes out, wait until you and he are both calm. THEN, send him to a thinking chair for 2 minutes. (To learn how to keep him there, see the book on “tickets” and “jail”).

Be sure not to accidently reinforce aggressive behavior with lots of attention (good or bad). Instead, give tons of attention to the child when he expresses anger appropriately. Use praise and even rewards to show that calm, respectful communication of negative emotion is your goal (“Good for you! You told me that you’re upset and didn’t throw anything. I think this deserves an extra story at storytime tonight!”).

For the most part, aggressive toddlers grow out of this kind of behavior. Some kids, however, have a strong case of aggressive genes. If at 4, 5 or 6 years of age the child is still using aggression to communicate feelings, it’s a good idea to send him for some art therapy or other kind of child-friendly therapy. The sooner he recovers from this tendency the easier it will be to have a complete turnaround. Try not to wait till he’s 10 or 12 because the problem will be much more entrenched in his neural pathways.