7 Powerful Ways To Respond To Your Child
Frequent Complaining and whining really tests our patience as parents, but as Frustrating as it may be, children complain for lots of good reasons;
- To blow off steam;
- to connect with us; or
- They feel powerless because they have an underlying emotion that needs to be released.
Complaining and whinging are opportunities to help our children find a better way to express their feelings.
To show them a better way of expressing themselves and help them shift into a more positive mindset, because frequent complaining is not a healthy option.
Studies show that complaining in fact shrinks the hippocampus, an area in the brain that is necessary for problem solving and emotion regulation.
It functions as part of the limbic system. The brain remodels dramatically during the teenage years.
Updates to the limbic system heighten the brains emotional reactions, indicating that the feeling centres beneath the cortex are actually more sensitive in teens.
We always label teens as hormonal moody cows, but the hormone issue is a myth. Unmanaged anxiety results in stress which will imbalance hormones, not just in teens.
Three ways to manage the limbic system update to avoid incontrollable rages;
- LISTEN without judgement. Hold space, actively listen and allow your child to feel heard.
- SEE your child. Be in the present moment, not in your own emotional headspace.
- WHAT THEY SAY MATTERS. Validate their feelings. Inquire why they feel that way.
It is our human desire to be seen, heard and that what we say matters.
We can easily do that for people by surrendering control and judgement by avoiding knee jerk reactions.
Listen to understand, validation is key to dissolving fear based emotions. No matter the age.
7 ways to respond to your younger children’s complaints.
Here are 7 strategies to help children express their dissatisfaction in healthier, more positive ways.
- DEFINE IT
Discuss the “nice voice or “strong voice” that’s inside of everyone. WHAT does that voice sound like? Practise asking for things in a ‘NICE’ strong but calm voice.
- LISTEN & VALIDATE
Make eye contact, do not interrupt…hold space for them, accept without judging, as they are just sharing their feelings. Use “I hear you…AND” method.
“I hear that’s not what you wanted… And we have no control over the weather.
- GIVE A CHOICE
When your kids start to complain, clarify what they want to happen as a result.
“It sounds like you are frustrated right now, do you need to vent OR do you want to make another plan?”
- REPHRASE & REFRAME
Rephrase complaints as a “want” or a “wish”
If your child hates her new toy, say “You want a different toy?”
Your child knows what they like and dislike and instead of focusing on what they don’t like, help them focus on what they do like.
- SET LIMITS
Children who whine frequently need greater limits. Give certain times of the day, for example, when you collect them from school, ask them what was the most disappointing or upsetting thing that happened today, ask them how they handled it, follow it up with the question, what was your highlight today? That is their opportunity to vent for the day. Set limits at home by saying “if you are still upset and need to vent in an hour, come and see me” children move on very quickly, highly probable they won’t remember in an hour, what they were upset about.
- RESPOND PLAYFULLY
Once kids know about their “strong voice” and how to use it, playfully offer to find it, when it disappears, say “Hey, where did that strong voice go?” It was here a minute ago…help me look. Is it under the chair? Hey, you found it! Now let me hear you use it!”
- FIND THE GOOD
Empathize, then help them find the positive. Empower kids by asking several key questions…
- What did you learn from this?
- How would you like things to be?
- How are you going to do that?
Empowering kids by teaching them how to think not what to think.
Written by Honey-Nicodah (Mindset Mentor)
Special mention to biglifejournal for 7 strategies.