Punishment Answers

What can I do to help my 4yo stop her violent tantrum ?

Thank you for expressing your concerns in detail. Hopefully, I can provide you with some answers using behavior modification approaches to parenting your child.  When looking at the function of behavior, it seems that your child's behaving due to tangible items and possible for attention as well.  She seems to have you guys trained very well that when she wants something, and demands it, she will continue to have a tantrum until received. I would not suggest that your hug your child during a tantrum, that is reinforcing enabling and coddling behavior.  Instead, I recommend that you put firm boundaries down.  Take away anything she wants and if she is able to have it later, tell her when and only when she calms down.  You may need to put her in her room and close the door or put her in a chair and tell her she can get out once she is calm.  She then will be able to self regulate her own emotions and she will learn that she can only get what she wants or your attention if it is earned and when she completes the desired behavior which is to calm down and self regulate her moods.  Use positive reinforcement and words of encouragement at every sign of cooperation or calmness.It will be important for everyone who disciplines her to follow the same consequence.  If one person caves into your child's demands and gives her something she wants (tangible or attention) while she is acting out, then she is learning to have that behavior reinforced.   She will also learn to manipulate and split the caregivers against one another because one parent is allowing bad behavior.It will be important to be consistent for at least 30 days or until she learns that she will not receive and item until she is calm.  She may also need to learn "no" as a response if she is not able to obtain the item at a later time.  Remember, you get to chose which behavior you want to reinforce. If you give her items or attention when she is acting out, you are reinforcing it.  If you teach your child "No" or "At a later time" only when she is calm, she is learning that you are in control and only positive behaviors will be reinforced.Hope that helps and good luck!
Answered on 10/22/2022

How to help and discipline a ADHD toddler

Smart children can be very challenging to raise!  You said a toddler, and so I am wondering how much language she has yet.  But one thing that is true for even the youngest babies is that you connect with them by helping them to feel that you understand what they are trying to communicate, and they can count on you to take care of their needs at least the majority of the time.  Remember that children do want to be good, and your love is the most important thing to them above everything else.  The thing that children fear the most is losing their parents, and to a child, they imagine that if you are not pleased with them you could reject them and they could lose you.  It might not always seem that way, but that is what matters the most to a very young child.  They want to be good.  They want to be loved.  They want you to know that they are trying. But children don't have all of the skills that they need to be good all of the time.  It is difficult even for adults to manage their emotions when emotions get intense.  Children are full of inner conflicts.  As much as they want your approval, they also have a powerful need to learn about their environment, to experiment, and to assert their independence.  And that combination can really get them into trouble.  Sometimes they are deliberately testing their limits to make sure that you still love them, no matter what they do, and that can be incredibly frustrating.  It is also developmentally normal, to an extent. Your job is to teach her the limits so that she can be safe and grow and mature and ultimately become more trusted and independent. As frustrating as it is, all of these challenging behaviors and difficult emotions are opportunities to bond and strengthen your relationship with your child.  John Gottman, one of the best known family therapists, has outlined a technique called "Emotion Coaching and Problem Solving" for helping parents to learn how to teach and coach their children through difficult emotions and challenging behavior.  You can read more about it in Gottman's book, "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child." The first step is to be aware of your child's emotions.  The second step is to recognize that when your child is experiencing difficult emotions (which often leads to impulsive behavior), that is an opportunity for you to bond with your child. Third, tune in to what your child is communicating (verbally or non-verbally).  Listen with empathy and validate how the child is feeling.  Feelings are never wrong - they just are.  Feelings are not the same as behaving though. Fourth, help your child to learn to identify their feelings and the words for them, and to be able to express their feelings with words. I realize that this may sound like reasoning.  The difference is that reasoning expects your child to recognize the logic in what you are saying to her, while emotion coaching is about you listening to your child and helping her to feel heard and to communicate better.  The focus is on what your child cares about the most right then in that moment, and that is something that she will be motivated to connect with. The final step in emotion coaching is problem solving.  Sometimes you won't even need this step once your child feels understood and can say how she feels with words.  When you do need a problem solving step, the way that it works is to guide your child to find a solution, while teaching limits and exploring the consequences or "what ifs."  As much as she is able to, ask your child what needs to be done.  Ask her what will happen if you do what she is proposing, and help her to shape that into a reasonable and appropriate solution.  For example, if she ran into the street, of course you are going to stop her and make sure that she is safe.  You will probably be scared and mad and upset because she could have gotten hurt.  Recognize your own emotions and what you need to do to regulate your emotions.  And then see if you can understand what your child is feeling.  Be curious about why she did that.  Was she frustrated because she wanted to go play in the park and you told her no?  Recognize that this is an opportunity to understand each other and bond together.  Validate her frustration (even if she can't go play in the park right now, she can still be frustrated).  Help her to name that feeling.  Explain that she can't go play in the park and she has to stay with you and out of the street.  Ask her what she thinks would help her to stay safe and out of the street and also help her to feel better.  Explore those ideas and come up with a plan together based on her own suggestions.
(MS, CMHC)
Answered on 06/10/2022

How do I forgive my parents and stop them from triggering me?

Dear Bec,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the dynamics between you and your family, and your struggles with forgiveness regarding the pain you've been suffering from.    We do have the right to be angry at how the lack of courage from the ones who have hurt us and have left us feeling unresolved and unfairly treated. It could be true that because of how much shame and guilt the other person is feeling, they might not ever have the courage to come to us, acknowledge what they have done and apologize.   They have hurt us once in the past, yet by allowing this resentment to build, I am afraid that it means we are giving them the license to continue hurting us.   It is unfortunate that this is a situation where it doesn't seem to be fair, the ones who have wounded us continue to live their lives while we are still sitting in the wounds. I can understand how frustrated and angry that feels, I would be feeling the same way given in this situation.   Meanwhile I am also thinking about our future, your future and what is best for your interest. On that note if you would like, I would like to propose forgiveness. Not to agree / accept the person's wrong doing or letting them go from being hold accountable, rather this forgiveness is all about setting ourselves free from continue being hurt / controlled by this person's action / inaction.   As you have been practicing kindness, I am sure you have noticed that we have much control over how we want to feel and we can make choices to promote kindness within ourselves, regardless of how others treat us or what life brings us.   “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing that you can do for your physiology and your spirituality.  Yet, it remains one of the least attractive things to us, largely because our egos rule so unequivocally. To forgive is somehow associated with saying that it is all right, that we accept the evil deed. But this is not forgiveness. Forgiveness means that you fill yourself with love and you radiate that love outward and refuse to hang onto the venom or hatred that was engendered by the behaviors that caused the wounds.” ~ Wayne Dyer   Here are some thoughts that I have when it comes to forgiveness, perhaps some benefits when we practice letting go of resentments and allow forgiveness to bring peace and healing back into our heart:   1. Forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves   “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” ~ Maya Angelou   Your mind might try to convince you that forgiveness is “letting someone off the hook,” and that you are in fact doing those who mistreated you a favor by forgiving them, but the truth of the matter is that you are doing yourself a favor.   Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, to be at peace, to be happy and to be able to sleep at night. You’re not doing this for them, you’re doing it for yourself, to set yourself free from the feelings of hurt, anger and helplessness that kept both of you attached for so long, and to be at peace.   2. Forgiveness is an act of strength   “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute if the strong.” ~ Gandhi    Contrary to what you have been led to believe, forgiveness is an act of strength. You don’t forgive because you are weak, but because you are strong enough to realize that only by letting go of resentments you will be happy and at peace.   3. Forgiveness is a sign of self-love   “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.    Love yourself enough to let go of all the toxicity from your life and free yourself from all the anger, bitterness and resentments.  If you’re mad, be mad. Don’t hide and suppress your feelings. Let it all out, but once you’re done with being mad, allow forgiveness to enter your heart. Let go and love!    4. When you forgive, you find peace   “If you let go a little you will have a little peace; if you let go a lot you will have a lot of peace; if you let go completely you will have complete peace.” ~ Ajahn Chah   Peace of mind is what you find the moment you let go of any grudges and any resentments you might be holding on to. The moment you say to yourself: “It is time to let go, it is time to forgive”, that will be the moment you will find peace.    5. If you forgive, you will be forgiven   “In this world, you are given as you give. And you are forgiven as you forgive. While you go your way through each lovely day, you create your future as you live.” ~ Peace Pilgrim   In life, we get what we give, and we reap what we sow. And since we’re all humans, and we all make mistakes, the more we forgive others for the past, present and future mistakes, the more others will forgive us when we will make mistakes. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. That also means forgiving ourselves. The more we practice forgiveness, we will find ourselves having more grace and compassion for others, and for ourselves, which would result in peace, comfort and calmness.   I hope this is helpful. Again I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to navigate these waters, especially when some of these pain and acts are ongoing. I just want to acknowledge your courage in seeking to learn about forgiveness.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to learn your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/24/2021