In their book, “No Drama Discipline,” mental health experts, Drs. Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, describe how the brain works, especially when kids feel intense emotions. They emphasize three things to keep in mind when your child is having a difficult time.
Did you know the human brain grows through childhood and into a person’s 20s? When your child is having a hard time, remember that his brain is still growing and he’s not able to think as logically or behave as kindly as we would hope he would. With your help, he’ll learn how to manage his emotions and make logical decisions, but it will take some time.
The majority of “problems” we have with our young children are due to us attributing a negative intent to their actions. We perceive that they are manipulating us through tantrums. What if, instead, we perceive they are overwhelmed with emotions and need comforting? We perceive that they are testing our authority. What if, instead, we perceive that they are attempting to get a need met in the only way they know how? What if we perceive that they are developing autonomy instead of defying us? What if we can let go of negative perceptions and stop attributing negative intentions on their behavior? Dr. Bailey says a very powerful statement:
By attributing negative motives to him, you highlight character flaws that he, in turn, incorporates into his self-concept.
I hate the thought that toddlers are being ‘terrible’. Toddlers ARE NOT TERRIBLE! They are many things, not all which which are good, but calling a child terrible is truly a horrible thing to say. They simply cannot behave like an older child. They simply cannot deal with everything life is throwing at them. They simply cannot express how they feel. That doesn’t make them terrible – it makes me feel so terrible FOR them!
With more than 90% of parents admitting to spanking or otherwise physically punishing their children at least occasionally, mainstream American parenting can certainly be defined as punitive. If you go to the library or browse the shelves at Barnes & Noble or check out Amazon’s bestsellers in the parenting genre, you will find a predominance of popular, punishment-based, obedience-focused parenting guides.
If you have ever watched a desperate mother trying to avoid flailing arms and legs as she wipes her child’s snot off her arms in the middle of a shopping centre and vowed that your own sweet baby will never carry on like that, think again. Tantrums are a normal part of toddler life.