Having Trouble Liking Your Children

We can’t order a child from the mail-order-child catalogue – “Please give me one who is as sweet as sugar, totally obedient, very clever, likes what I like, makes a good first impression, makes a good lasting impression – and is also very attractive.”  Instead, we roll the dice, conceive a child, and take what comes. Sometimes what comes is disappointing.

Not What I Ordered
For instance, parents can find themselves with a child who is stubborn and willful by nature and who uses that will to do the exact opposite of what the parents want. The parents want an athlete; the child is a bookworm. The parents want a scholar; the child is an artist. The parents want a socialite; the child is a loner.

Parents value certain behaviors, traits and activities more than others. They are certainly entitled to their preferences. However, they are not entitled to try to turn their kids into something they are not. Rather, it is the parent’s job to work with what they have, to educate the child according to that child’s innate characteristics and inclinations. In order to do this, parents have to mourn the loss of their “ideal” child. They have to come to terms with the reality of the child who has been delivered to them.

Accepting Each Child
Emotional intelligence is fostered by acceptance. When parents accept the validity of a child’s worldview – the child’s feelings, perceptions and views – the child comes to know him or herself better. Reflecting back the child’s experience helps the child to hear his or her own thoughts and considerations. “You don’t like reading? You find it boring?” the parent reflects back to the youngster who refuses to pick up a book. The child can listen and reflect upon the parent’s reflection. “It’s not that I don’t like reading – it’s that I don’t like reading big novels. I like short books with pictures!”

When a parent starts by accepting what the child is expressing, the child’s understanding of him or herself can grow. Imagine, however, if the parent responded to the reluctant reader with outrage: “WHAT? YOU HAVE TO READ BOOKS! YOU CAN’T GET ANYWHERE IN THIS WORLD UNLESS YOU READ!” The child will then experience confusion, hurt, anger and upset. Instead of growing in understanding, the child will shrink in emotional intelligence. Although parents have a right to want to influence and guide their youngsters, they must find a way to do this without shoving, pushing and squashing. Respectfully accepting the child where he or she is at is the healthy starting point, the point that builds emotional intelligence.

Accepting and Letting Go
When a parent strives to understand the child’s worldview, the parent also expands in understanding and awareness. There are different ways of being. Gentle acceptance of the child leads to gentle acceptance of differences. The child, after all, is not the parent. Acceptance is the key in fostering emotional intelligence. Accepting that the child prefers to be alone or prefers to be with others all the time means accepting that the child is a unique individual with his or her own mission in this world. Respectfully reflecting those preferences back to the child, accepting the child’s right to be different, allows the child to grow and flourish as an individual. Allowing the child to be who he or she is, is a gift that fosters love, mutual respect and, of course, emotional intelligence.

When Mother is Emotionally Unstable

Borderline mothers are people with Borderline Personality Disorder. This disorder is characterized by the following traits and symptoms:

  • an intense fear of abandonment
  • intense anger
  • alternating between seeing people as all wonderful or all evil
  • self-destructive behavior
  • unstable relationships
  • unstable self-image
  • may have suicidality

Many people with Borderline Personality Disorder were severely abused as children. Often, they were raised by parents who had the same disorder and were not able to parent in a reasonable, stable manner. Sometimes the Borderline adult has been the victim of sexual abuse, incest or other severe childhood traumas.

Living with a Borderline Mom
A mother with Borderline Personality Disorder can be very emotional and at times, quite out of control. A child’s fairly normal misbehavior or mistake can trigger an intense temper tantrum. Verbal and physical abuse may replace appropriate discipline strategies. Drama, hysteria and crisis erupt where calm, thoughtful parenting should have prevailed. After episodes of abusive parenting, the Borderline mother may feel intense remorse and fear of losing the child’s love. Acting more like a lost child than a parent, the mother may then beg the child for forgiveness or cry in front of the child about what a terrible parent she has been.

The child who lives with a Borderline parent can become hypervigilant – always on guard for signs that Mom will become enraged. The child also becomes confused, never knowing whether he is a “good” or a “bad” boy because the mother’s opinion swings wildly from one pole to the other. Because severe punishment can be meted out at any time for any infraction, the child may feel that he can never succeed in being good enough. The child may also end up parenting the mother, offering reassurances of love when the mother expresses fear of abandonment.

A Life-Long Struggle
Eventually children of borderline mothers grow up and leave home. However, the mother-child dynamic does not end. The grown up child still may feel insecure and may still try to please the mother or at least avoid upsetting the mother. The grown child may not yet realize that, in fact, his or her parent is ill. Instead, the child may still be engaged in frequent fighting, arguing, disconnecting and reconnecting for many years into adulthood or middle age before some therapist finally identifies the issue.

It is important for people to realize that intense drama in interpersonal relationships and particularly the parent-child relationship, is never normal. Some sort of pathology is always at play. Instead of caring feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, guilt and anger, children of Borderlines can heal and find their own healthy centers. Usually professional assistance is required for this journey. However, once healing occurs, the relationship with the older Borderline parent can be renegotiated to protect the child better. Although the Borderline mother may never heal, the child certainly can. Seeking professional help is the quickest way to do so.

Out-of-Control Teens

Some teenagers are model citizens. This article is not about them. This article is about those teens who are acting out – the ones who talk back to their parents, dosage swear at them, act aggressively when upset, have no respect for rules or curfews, do what they want when they want, engage in addictive, destructive, illegal or immoral behavior and otherwise distress their well-meaning parents terribly. It is also about those teens who are “acting in” – those with depression, eating disorders, cutting behaviors and other self-destructive patterns. All of these children frighten, worry and dismay their parents. Why do they behave this way? What can parents do about it?

Out-of-Control Parents
Many out-of-control teens trigger out-of-control behavior in their parents. Because of their intense fear, hurt and helplessness, many parents of out-of-control teens become enraged and display their own version of temper tantrum behavior. In an effort to regain control, some dole out irrational negative consequences like “life-long” loss of privileges or “life-long” grounding. Even if they manage to use more reasonable consequences, many use too many or make them too intense for the crime. The result is a very negative relationship in which the adolescent loses all motivation to please the parent or cooperate in any way. The troubled relationship actually fuels more adolescent pain and more troubled behaviors. The last thing a struggling adolescent needs is an out-of-control parent.

How to Help Troubled Teens
The first step for parents it to maintain total control over THEMSELVES. Parents should let their adolescents know that they are starting a SELF-improvement program: no more yelling, tantrumming, insulting or other disrespectful behaviors. The parent will remove all behaviors from his or her own repetoire that would be unacceptable if the teen engaged in that behavior. For instance, if the parents want the teen to stop yelling, the parent will work on removing yelling from his or her own behavior (the same applies for any other similar behavior such as, unpleasant tone of voice, nasty facial expressions, unkind words, stomping & slamming, etc.). After a month of working on his or her own behavior, the parent can begin to help the teen make similar changes using a similar technique. The teen may be inspired by the model of the parnts. The parents have shown their own willingness to help make things better and they have shown that they can be successful. The teen may be more willing to get with the program when the parents have led the way.

The self-improvement program works like this: the parents promise themselves and their child that each unacceptable parental outburst will be followed by a parental consequence. For instance, when a parent yells, he or she can immediately sit down to write a page of lines to the effect of “I can control myself even if I feel upset.” or “I speak respectfully at all times even when I am upset” and so on. After the first week or two of this consequence, the parent increases his or her lines to two sides (one full page, both sides) and after three or four weeks, to three sides, continuing to make increases until all unacceptable parental behavior stops. If it starts up again at a later date, even months or years later, the parent begins the consequence system again.

Another equally important strategy for parents is to lay the foundation for adolescent change. They can do this by practicing the 90-10 Rule. This rule states that 9 out of 10 parental communications need to feel pleasant to the child. Pleasant feeling communications include things like smiles, compliments, weather reports, gifts, treats, jokes, gentle touch (if wanted), interesting neutral conversation, acknowledgement, good quality listening, naming feelings, having pleasant interactions with other family members within earshot of the teen and so on. One out of 10 communications can be “business-oriented” such as giving instructions, making requests, setting a boundary (using discipline if necessary). When the 90-10 Rule is followed, teenagers automatically become calmer and more cooperative, less rebellious and more interested in pleasing. Their own emotional difficulties settle down a bit. They even cooperate more with discipline when it is required.

More Help for Out-of-Control Teens
Parents can be empathetic toward teens without accepting their abusive behavior. Once parents have brought their own behavior under control, they must insist that their teens work on theirs as well. They will live by the rule “I only give and accept respectful communication” (“I do not give nor do I accept disrespectful communication.”) Using quiet, respectful discipline, the parent can invite the teen to create appropriate consequences for behaving in disrespectful ways.

Troubled teens may really benefit from and appreciate other interventions. Bach Flower Therapy is a harmless treatment that can reduce anger, stress, anxiety, hurt, loneliness, despair, depression and all other painful emotions. Both parents and teens can use this form of treatment to help clear and heal the troubled feelings that prompt out-of-control behaviors. You can find more information on Bach Flower Therapy online and throughout this site.

Professional help can be of tremendous benefit to both parents and teens as well. Even if the adolescent refuses to go to therapy, parents will find that the support and strategies offered by a mental health professional can make a huge difference in their family life.

These are some of the ways we can begin to help our hurting kids. Remember that you are the adult – you must show the way. Patience and love will help a lot. Keep envisioning your troubled teen moving through and beyond these years to a very positive outcome. This optimistic picture wilil help you survive the turbulent times and do your best when it is hardest. It will counteract the anxiety that causes you to over-react or “forget” good parenting skills. The truth is that most kids turn around at some point and become very pleasant, well-adjusted adults – just like you!

Parenting Your Difficult Child

The difficult child has been called by many names. Sometimes he (we’ll call him “he” in this article, but many difficult children are “she”) is called “the spirited child,” sometimes “the challenging child” and sometimes “the sensitive child.” Whatever we call this youngster, the name always points to one common denominator: this child is not easy to parent.

The difficult child has traits that make him challenging like rigidity, reactivity and anger. He may be stubborn, unreasonable, and volatile. He may be dishonest. Sometimes the difficult child is fussy about everything – food, clothes, activities. He may be so easily bored that his parents feel like they must program every minute of his day. The difficult child may be sweet as pie at school and only difficult at home or may be difficult in both locations. Occasionally, a child is only difficult at school. Often the difficult child has combustive relationships with siblings; often, he has social challenges outside of the home.

What Makes  Children Difficult?
The difficult child inherits traits that create a complex, difficult personality. Difficulty with change, anxiety, low mood, irritability, impulsivity, hyperactivity, short attention span and so on are all governed by genes. Parents don’t create a difficult child, even with poor parenting. A child with great genes will still be fairly well-adjusted even if the parents lack top notch parenting skills. A child with “difficult” genes, will still be difficult even if his parents win the award for “Parents of the Year.”

What can be Done for the Difficult Child?
Although parenting alone can’t remove the difficult nature of a child, good parenting can help a difficult child manage better and it can help him avoid being hurt by the rejection of his parents. Good parenting can help the difficult child develop a sense of inner security that will help him deal better with life’s challenges. Therefore, parents of difficult kids should really read those parenting books, join forums, take classes and so on.

Bach Flower Remedies can be very helpful in actually changing the difficult nature of a child. These harmless vibrational remedies help with individual traits. There are Bach Flower Remedies for explosive behavior, grumpy mood, jealousy, panic, depression, impulsivity and whatever other problematic trait a person has. Taking the remedies off and on over the developmental years can help ease difficult traits out of a child’s system. The term for this is epigenetic healing. A consultation with a Bach Flower Practitioner can get you started on this path. You can find more information on Bach Flower Therapy online, in books, and throughout this site.

Self-Care
Parents of difficult kids suffer greatly. Their children sometimes cause them embarrassment and shame. They provoke tremendous frustration, disappointment and hurt. Parents must be careful not to blame themselves for having a challenging child. Tending to one’s marriage, one’s social life, one’s creativity and leisure are all important. Taking good care of oneself helps one take good care of a difficult child.

Morning Routine

What’s it like in your house in the morning? If someone was observing from outside your window, ask what would they see? Laughter and warmth? Irritation and impatience? Conflict, site screaming, viagra 60mg arguing? Or a mixture of everything?

What would you want them to see? Or, more to the point, what do you want your kids to see? Your morning routine sends your kids out the door and into the world, carrying with them the experiences, messages and emotions of the 7a.m. rush. This period, for school age kids, is one of the two main “quality time” parenting periods of their school years – the other being the “after school crunch.”

Teaching Life Lessons
From the time kids wake up till the time they walk out the door, parents are teaching valuable life lessons. Parents are teaching kids how to manage time. Do you get out of bed early enough to get it all done in the morning? Do you teach your kids how to do the same? Parents are demonstrating how to handle pressure – the deadline of the morning rush. Do you dissolve under pressure, becoming nasty, irritable, panicked or otherwise unpleasant? Or do you model self-control and restraint when your blood is boiling and the clock is ticking? Parents teach kids how to convey love – from the first gentle wake-up tickle of the toes to the tender kiss good-bye. Compliments and jokes and other forms of friendly banter show the kids that they are loved. Do you have the patience and good humor it takes to be loving at 7:30 in the morning? Or is it all about “hurry up, hurry up, carpool is coming!”

Morning Challenges
Children can be morning-challenged in a variety of ways. Let’s look at some typical challenges of the kindergarten to sixth grade set.

  • Dawdlers: This group of slow pokes can really unravel a rushing Mom. It’s important to avoid labeling them as “dawdlers” since you don’t want to reinforce this self-concept. It’s also important to avoid nagging them – that is, employing repetitive requests that will ultimately lead to parental anger. Instead, reinforce quicker behavior by using the CLeaR Method (comment on appropriate speed, label it as “quick moving”, reward it with a kiss or a treat). Also, use the 2X-Rule for limits. For instance, you can say “If you haven’t finished brushing your hair by 7:40, I’ll have to finish brushing it for you.” “If you haven’t finished eating by 8:05, I’ll have to remove your plate.” (You can find more information on the CLeaR Method and the 2X-Rule in Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe.)
  • Distracted Kids: these kids have trouble staying on task at home or at school. Supplementing their diet with Essential Fatty Acids can sometimes help improve their concentration. In addition, use the CLeaR Method to give positive attention whenever on-task behavior is occurring and use the 2X-Rule to set consequences for failing to have certain tasks performed by certain deadlines.
  • Sensory Issue Kids: These kids struggle with the way things feel to them. Clothes that you pick out may not feel “right” causing a delay around getting dressed. Try picking out the clothes the night before, with the child’s involvement. If the child wants to wear the same thing over and over, let her – it’s not dangerous and not worth fighting about every day. Try washing the clothes after she takes them off at night. When it’s impossible to get her the clothes she wants, use Emotional Coaching – naming and accepting her feelings sympathetically. Lectures and criticism are unhelpful and destructive so don’t go there!
  • Non-Compliant Kids: These kids simply don’t listen. They may be strong-willed or just plain uncooperative. They complain about their clothes, the weather, the breakfast and the lunch snacks. They are irritable and demanding. They may benefit from Essential Fatty Acids, Bach Flower Therapy or other alternative interventions as well as Emotional Coaching. Try offering this kind of child choices about clothing and food, preferably the night before. The challenge is not to get “hooked” – these kids are not happy campers. They don’t need your anger to top it all off.
  • Others: Some kids are disorganized and need lots of extra help and structure from the parent. This is a brain challenge – not “bad” behavior. Therefore, patience and assistance are in order. Some kids can’t wake up easily and require modification of their bedtime and help with their wake-up routine. And some MOMS are disorganized and have trouble getting it altogether. However, sitting down and thinking about each child’s morning style, your own style and some small interventions may be all that is necessary to ensure that you have consistently good mornings in your household!

Always Says No

Toddlers just have to say “no.” “Do you want an ice cream cone?” “No.” “Do you want your Teddy Bear now?” “No.” No matter how much the child believes, “yes” at two years old he just has to say “No!” Why is that?

Toddlers are just moving out of the symbiotic stage – the stage in which the child and Mommy blur into one. During infancy, infants and mothers live in the same rhythm almost seeming to share one body. This helps the mother sense when her baby is hungry, when she needs to be changed, when she is tired and all the rest. The baby has no words and everything must be communicated non-verbally. Mother tunes into the baby’s body language and little sounds to read her unspoken message. The better Mom can do this, the more successfully the baby’s needs will be met. Therefore, it is advantageous for mother and baby to share a oneness – a relationship that needs no language.

However, toddlers are beginning to speak. This marks the beginning of their independent existence. Now that they can articulate, they can offer an opinion, express a wish, or give positive or negative feedback. Now the child want to express himself or herself – the child needs to discover the “self” to express.

I am Not YOU
The child finds him or herself by distinguishing it from other selves. I know that something is warm only by comparing it to something that is cool. One thing is blue only if it is not any of the other colors. Differences define unique properties of things and people. Therefore, the toddler finds himself by distinguishing himself from his previously symbiotic partner – Mom.

If Mom wants the toddler to do something, the toddler finds herself by saying “No.” “No, I don’t want to do it whereas YOU want me to do it therefore clearly I am not you. I am me.” (The toddler, of course, doesn’t articulate the whole sentence – just the “no” part!)

Managing the Negativistic Toddler
As wonderful as this developmental stage is for the baby’s development, it can present a formidable parenting challenge. It seems that everything has become an argument. The child is no more Mr. Nice Guy. Now, everything is “no!” What’s a parent to do?

First of all, it can be very helpful to encourage the child’s independence. Instead of butting heads with a toddler (“I said, do it!”), a parent can acknowledge the child’s unique view. “Oh, YOU don’t want to do it. You want to sit here and suck your thumb. You are Joey.” This kind of response actually calms the child a bit, since you clearly understand his agenda and appreciate it properly. Sometimes, after hearing such a sentence, the toddler will end the battle and simply comply with the parent’s wishes. But don’t count on it.

Sometimes, the parent will have to insist – for safety reasons or other practical reasons, the toddler may have no real choice in a matter. However, even in such cases, the parent can first acknowledge the child’s opinion and then ease her into the correct spot. “I know you don’t want to get your shoes on now. That’s O.K. Mommy will come back in a few minutes and put them on you because we have to go soon.”

Giving a toddler some choices can help reduce the amount of nay-saying. “Do you want Cereal A or B?” can be less confrontational than “Mommy has some nice cereal B for you today.” Let the child pick out foods, clothes, toys and even some activities. This way the child can develop her sense of self without having to say “no” to your suggestions.

Most of all, just relax. This stage passes. Although children always need plenty of space in order to become themselves, the toddler’s dramatic negativity will eventually give way to a more moderate amount of dispute (until the teens years, that is). The more you can let your child make personal decisions at every stage of life, the better. Acknowledging his point of view, taking him seriously and showing consideration for his thoughts and feelings can go a long way toward preventing real rebellion later on. Help each child develop according to his or her unique needs and characteristics starting in toddlerhood: say “Yes!” to independent thinking!

Toddler Doesn’t Listen

Toddlers – kids who are between 15 months and 3 years of age – are an adorable group of people! They are just beginning to develop their speech and motor skills which essentially means they are beginning to develop their power. Instead of lying immobile in a parent’s arms, a car seat or a stroller, this group of small people can now do damage! They can hurt an infant, dive into the toilet bowl, rummage through garbage cans and even run out of the house. From their point of view they are only doing what comes naturally: exploring the amazing world around them. However, from the parents’ point of view they are doing what they shouldn’t be doing: engaging in activities that are dangerous, messy, destructive, inappropriate or otherwise undesirable. If an older child were to be similarly occupied, he or she would be disciplined. The trouble with toddlers is that they are too young to be disciplined in the traditional manner. What’s a parent to do?

Teaching Toddlers to Behave
Here’s the good news: toddlers can be educated! The primary way of providing this education is through the judicious application of attention (at the right moments). Keep in mind the main, guiding principle: all attention reinforces behavior. This means that if you ever give any attention of any kind to a toddler, that child will do more of what you have been attending to. For instance, if you smile at a toddler who is gently stroking the new baby, then the toddler will tend to gently stroke the new baby more often. Also, if you yell at a toddler who is squeezing the baby too hard, then the toddler will tend to squeeze the baby too hard more often. ALL attention reinforces behavior – not just pleasant attention.

Now, using this knowledge, you can cleverly shape the behavior of your toddler. Do you want the toddler to say “please?” Then after the youngster says “please” give praise and/or concrete rewards. Do you want him to clean up his toys? Then, after he puts a toy away, show excitement and pleasure verbally and or physically (give a big hug or a pat on the head). Do you want the child to play quietly while you’re on the phone with a business call? Then make sure to give her some special cookies and milk when she manages to do so.

Notice that you are purposefully using attention to increase your toddler’s desirable behaviors. To do so you have to ask yourself “what behavior do I want to see more of?” However, what if you see a behavior that you want to see LESS of? What do you do then?

Again, keep in mind the over-riding attention principle described above. If your child is doing something you don’t want him to be doing, refrain from giving him attention! Instead, figure out what the opposite or desirable behavior is, get him to do that behavior (or wait for it to happen spontaneously) and use positive attention to reinforce the desirable behavior. For example, if the toddler enjoys dipping his hand in the toilet, ask yourself what you want him to be doing instead of playing in the toilet. Let’s say that you WANT him to play with his toys near his toy chest. Then, when you find him at the toilet bowl, gently lift him up and put him in front of his toy chest and give him LOTS of attention for playing in the right spot. Refrain from shrieking at him as he sticks his hand in the toilet bowl. If you get red in the face and start sounding hysterical when he’s near the toilet, he’ll be thrilled! It’s fun to see you go nuts! He’ll just love all that attention. He’ll definitely spend every free minute running to that bowl just to see your reaction. However, if you act absolutely bored by his bathroom escapades, and simultaneously absolutely THRILLED when he’s near his toybox, then he’ll veer toward that toybox more and more often.

Consequences for Toddlers
Older toddlers and very smart younger ones can sometimes be punished for inappropriate behavior. However, if you give a toddler a consequence on three different occasions, you must make sure that it is having a positive effect. Many people put a toddler in his crib or room for hurting a baby or hitting an adult. That’s fine if it “works” – that is, if it reduces the hurting hitting behavior. But if you’ve been disciplining your toddler in this way for months on end with no improvement in his behavior, then STOP using that consequence immediately! Always check after a few times to see whether a consequence has changed the child’s behavior and if it hasn’t, then change the consequence! Some toddlers will willing sit on a “thinking chair” when asked to. Again, that’s great – as long as the sitting leads to a positive change in behavior. If you are ready to try using negative consequences with your toddler, be sure to use the 2X-Rule (see Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe for details). This structured form of discipline will help keep you calm and prevent emotional damage to your child. Always warn your child before giving a consequence. Always use a consequence you’re willing to carry out. Minimize the amount of attention you give your toddler when you’re giving a negative consequence because – as you now know – the attention itself can encourage more inappropriate behavior.

Bad Moods

Some people are always in a good mood. The moody child isn’t one of them. He’s known for his frown, his complaints and his tantrums that occur frequently enough that his parents call him “moody.” Some moody kids are actually in a bad mood from the time they get up in the morning till the time they go to sleep at night. Their glass is always half empty; nothing is ever just right. They feel sad, hurt, angry, neglected, abandoned, mistreated, and generally unhappy. They feel this way even when their parents are normal, kind people trying their best.

Some moody kids have alterations in their emotional states, moving from miserable to content off and on throughout the day. They may be happy as long as things are going their way, but then, blow up when there is a hitch (when Mom says “no” or anticipated plans fail, for example). Some moody kids actually travel daily across a spectrum of emotional states ranging from lows to highs: from grumpy to delightful to enraged to ecstatic to grief stricken to full of joy.

Why are Kids Moody?
Children and adults can experience temporary moodiness that is out of their normal stable character. This occurs when people haven’t eaten well or haven’t slept enough or when they’re coming down with an illness. It can occur also when there is an unusual amount of stress or pressure or chaos. For instance, in the days before “moving day” a family may find itself living in a house that is full of boxes, unable to locate needed clothing or pots or what have you, living without the comforts of home for some days before and after the actual move. During this period the whole family may be in a bad mood. However, once they are settled, the mood will also settle and the family members will return to their normal pleasant states.

People who have experienced a trauma may suffer a number of symptoms such as trouble sleeping, panic attacks and uncharacteristic irritability. Once the trauma is treated, the bad mood will lift. Living in a chronically stressful situation can also affect mood in otherwise normal kids and grownups. Going through a difficult, drawn-out divorce, for example, can put everyone in a bad mood for some years.

Some people have bad moods because of their diet. Excess sugar and caffeine can negatively affect mood in anyone; after chocolate milk and cookies kids can become grumpy, angry and sour. Some kids have sensitivities to ingredients in foods or they have allergies or food intolerances. These can all cause irritability and bad mood. Once the diet is adjusted, the mood will improve.

However, chronic bad mood, including the alternating moods described above, that are not explained by temporary circumstances or health issues may better be explained by inherited characteristics. Irritable mood in children can be a precursor of adult depression. In adults depression manifests as sadness with other physical and emotional symptoms. However, in children, depression is expressed as irritability and regular bad mood. Adults may treat their depressions with therapy and/or medication. These treatments are rarely employed in the treatment of children’s mood issues, reserved for particularly severe cases of emotional dysfunction. However, there are many alternative treatments for children’s mood issues that can be very effective.

Helping Heal Bad Moods
Naturopathic treatments can be quite helpful. Bach Flower Therapy, for example, is a form of vibrational medicine that is harmless and yet powerful. Like beautiful music (another form of “vibrational medicine”), Bach Flowers lift mood gently. This form of treatment can decrease negativity, tantrums, discouragement, jealousy, anger, rigidity and other low-mood characteristics. You can learn more about Bach Flower Therapy online and/or find a Bach Flower Practitioner to further guide you.

There are many other naturopathic and alternative treatments for children’s mood issues. Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplementation and other nutritional support can be very therapeutic for all mood issues and particularly in the treatment of alternating high and low moods. A nutritionist experienced in the treatment of children’s mood disorders can design a therapeutic diet for your child. Homeopathic treatment, cranial sacral work, acupuncture and other treatments all have been found to be helpful and safe in the treatment of mood issues. Although some research and experimentation may be necessary until the right treatment is found for your youngster, it is worth the trouble. Helping a child grow up more happily not only brings him (and you!) more happiness, it also affects his developing brain for the future.

Behavioral treatment of mood disorders can be carried out by you in your home. It is helpful to use “emotional coaching” in response to a child’s expressions of unhappiness. This involves naming and accepting his feeling. “Yes, I see you’re upset,” or “Yes, it’s very disappointing,” or “You’re really mad about this” are simple statements that you can make to your disgruntled youngster. What should NOT be said is, “You’re never happy about anything!” or “I’m tired of your complaints” or “There’s no reason for you to be so unhappy.” A parent’s irritation only makes matters worse. Emotional coaching, on the other hand, has been shown to help children become more emotionally intelligent over time, better able to remain calm and emotionally stable, perform better in school, do better socially, emotionally and even physically. Emotional coaching—the naming and welcoming of all feelings—eventually helps children suffer less frequent and less intense negative emotion.

It isn’t necessary to try to make a moody child happy. And it isn’t really possible. Rather, focus on accepting that the child is in pain. Moody kids don’t want to be grumpy and unhappy. They are victims of their genes and inborn temperaments. They deserve your sympathy, support and compassion. Showing your child you care about his or her mood issues by seeking out treatment is a powerful message in itself.

It is hard to parent children with chronically bad moods. Be sure to take care of yourself: manage your stress, exercise, socialize, take breaks and laugh. Your moody child needs you to be in a good mood!

How to Soothe Your Cranky Baby

Babies have very clear personalities that are evident from the moment of birth. Some are so calm and easy-going. Some look and sound mad. Some look worried. It’s possible that their individual journeys down the birth canal have affected their mood and disposition but their genes also play a major role. Psychologists now say that at least 50% of personality is present before parents have a chance to have an impact on their kids. As any parent of more than one child knows, each child is different.

Babies Impact on Their Caregivers
Babies have a strong impact on their parents. A relaxed and placid, cooperative baby makes the parent feel the same way. Such a baby inspires parental confidence even if this is the first child. Parents of easy-going, content babies feel successful as parents and this makes them actually like their baby even more.

Tense, irritable, crabby babies make their parents feel that way too! They make their parents feel helpless, inept and inadequate. This causes them to be somewhat aversive to their parents – after all, we tend to shrink away from people who make us feel like failures. Although it’s not the baby’s fault, parents can’t help but feel resentful toward an infant that refuses to be soothed or comforted. They try everything they possibly can, but still the baby remains unsettled and unhappy. After months of this kind of cycle, parents can feel distressed, burnt-out and detached from their infant.

Loving Difficult Babies
There is no trick to loving a cooperative baby. There is a BIG trick to loving a more challenging infant. With non-responsive babies, parents must remind themselves that gentle handling and patient care-giving DOES make a difference to the child. Difficult babies are stressed from the inside. When parents provide a soothing, confident handling from the outside, the experience does impact on the child’s nervous system. Agitated handling creates more agitation for the infant; calm handling gets recorded in the infants brain and its impact accumulates over time, helping the child to develop in an optimal way. Since parents cannot get immediate feedback from the baby him or herself, they must give THEMSELVES positive feedback instead. Every time you hold your difficult infant, actually tell yourself “I am doing therapeutic parenting. It is so good for my baby. It will help him/her in the long run.” By rewarding yourself verbally (and in any other way you want to!) you can help your own body and mind resist the stress of a (temporarily) thankless child.

In addition, make sure to engage in other activities that DO give positive feedback. Take breaks from your baby in order to do what you enjoy doing and what you feel successful at. Use a babysitter frequently in order to give yourself time to replenish your energy so that you can continue to give love to this baby without exhaustion, resentment and strain.

Seek social support, therapy, alternative stress relief and any other intervention that can help strengthen and nurture you because your baby needs you. You must undo the effects that the baby can have on your nervous system and continuously restore and re-balance your system.

By looking after yourself, you’ll be doing the very best for your baby. This is true for every parent and all the more so for parents of challenging babies.