Prevent unwanted behavior by meeting your child's needs when
they are first expressed. With her current needs met, she is
free to move on to the next stage of learning.
2. Provide a safe,
child-friendly environment. There is little point in having
precious items within the reach of a baby or toddler, when
they can simply be put away until the child is old enough to
handle them carefully.
3. Apply the Golden
Rule. Think about how you would like to be treated if you
were to find yourself in the same circumstances as your
child. Human nature is human nature, regardless of age.
4. Show empathy for
your child's feelings. Even if a child's behavior seems
illogical, his underlying feelings and needs are real to
him. A statement like "You seem really
unhappy" is a good way to show that you are on your
5. Validate your
child's feelings so she knows that you understand and care,
and that she will never be rejected for having any
particular kinds of feelings. For example, "That scared
me too when I was little."
6. Meet the
underlying need that led to the behavior. If we punish the
outward behavior, the still unmet need will continue to
surface in other ways until it is finally met. Questions
such as "Are you angry because I've been on the phone
so much today? Would you like to go for a walk
together?" can help a child feel loved and understood.
7. Whenever possible,
find a "win-win" solution that meets everyone's
needs. To learn effective conflict resolution skills,
consider a course in Nonviolent CommunicationSM.
8. Reassure your
child that he is loved and appreciated. So-called
"bad" behavior is often the child's attempt to
express his need for love and attention, in the best way
that he can manage at that moment. If he could express this
need in a more mature way, he would.
9. Shift the focus
away from a situation that has become too stressful to
resolve at that moment: "Let's take a break. What would
you like to do instead?"
10. Be sure that you
and your child have had nutritious food throughout the day
so your blood sugar levels stay high. Frequent, small meals
11. Breathe! When
stressed, we need more oxygen, but tend to take shallow
breaths. Even a few deep breaths can help us to calm down
and think more clearly.
We don't expect a car to start unless the gas tank is
filled, and we shouldn't expect a child to function at her
best if her "emotional tank" is running low. Give
the three things that fill a child's emotional tank: eye
contact, gentle touch, and undivided attention.
13. Chamomile tea is
very relaxing for both adults and children. Taken an hour
before bedtime by a nursing mother, it can also help to calm
her baby. Older children might like iced chamomile tea or
14. Take a time out -
with your child. A change of scenery - even if it's
just a short time outdoors, can make a real difference for
both parent and child.
15. Pick a Parenting Card for inspiration
and encouragement or create some of your own reminder cards.
16. Offer a massage.
A bedtime massage can help a child to sleep more soundly,
giving her more resilience and energy for the following day.
17. Give choices.
Children need to feel they have a voice. Offering choices,
even if they seem unimportant to you ("Do you want the
red cup or the blue one?") will help a child feel that
he has some say over his life, especially if he has had to
cope with recent changes.
18. Try whispering.
When tensions are high, whispering can help to get a child's
attention and also help to calm the parent.
19. Give your child
time. A statement like "Let me know when you're ready
to share the toy / climb into the car seat / put on your
jacket" will give the child a sense of autonomy and
make it easier for him to cooperate.
20. Give yourself
time. Count to ten (silently) or ask for time ("I'm not
sure what to say. Please give me a moment while I think this
over." Sometimes we just need a bit of time to think
more clearly and to see things more objectively.
21. Remember that
children create images from our words: "Slow
down!" is more effective than "Stop
running!". The first statement creates an image of
slowing down, while the second creates a picture of someone
running (the word "don't" is too abstract to
overcome the more concrete and compelling image of running).
Similarly, a specific request is more effective than a
general one: "Please put down the glass" instead
of "Be careful".
22. Ask yourself
"Will I look back at this later and laugh?" If so,
why not laugh now? Create the kind of memory you would like
to have when you look back on this day.