For some children, just talking about their feelings may be enough for them to calm down, others may choose to lie on their bed and give themselves some calm-down time, whilst others may have a different calming down space or activity in your home.
If one’s child does become aggressive then setting limits is absolutely necessary.
Many parents are now aware that validating our children’s emotions is one of the fundamental principles in positive parenting, but so many times this gets forgotten as we try to rationalize, impose our opinion, not listen, or over-simplify.
Last Spring I made up this quote, based on a lot of reading I had done by Dr. I find that when I have little quotes like this in my mind, it helps me in the moment with my own children, and helps me when counselling parents.
If I remember, I am more likely to sit and really listen to my children’s perspective, without trying to change their mind. Once I have heard their feelings, I will validate them and summarize back what I heard. You are really mad that I’m sending an email when I just told you that it was time for you to finish on your i Pad.” “You’re telling me that you’ve had an awful day, and feeling really upset and just want to have a quiet evening.” “You and your brother/sister have just had a big argument and now you are so angry, you wish that she had never been born”.
If I can see that their behaviour is escalating and I ask for them to explain what they’re thinking and feeling at that moment, it can quickly dissipate the emotional reactivity. The important message is that it’s okay to have big, strong feelings, but not to have accompanying aggressive behaviours toward others or property.
I am currently feeling inspired by a new clinical course I’m taking this fall to learn about a relatively new kind of behaviour therapy called DBT (Dialetical Behaviour Therapy).
The term Dialectics/Dialectical is uncommon, but essentially means the tension between two opposites and finding the synergy.
For example, in our life we need to accept and we need to change, yet how do we find the balance between the two?
On the one hand we want to provide our children with unconditional acceptance, and on the other hand we see some behaviours which we know are limiting their potential.
According to Marsha Linehan, the psychologist who developed DBT, the three types of invalidating families are: i) other stress and demands that the parent is coping with ii) an inability to be around negative emotions (which makes me think of the yellow happy face symbol we are all familiar with…always be happy!