Lately I've been thinking a lot about the emotional and mental health of children as their development grows. An incredible book to read is called The Whole Brain Child. The same author writes No Drama Discipline, also an incredible book.
Often as parents, we get caught up in changing just the behavior - the tantrums, the outbursts, not listening, not following directions - that we forget to nurture their growing brain and emotional health. We expect a three year old will behave as an adult, when their brain will not be fully grown until around age 25. How can we expect a three year old to behave as logically as a grown adult?
The books speaks to first acknowledging emotion and how they feel before moving onto behavior. If they are really sad they didn't get a popsicle and then they won't listen to you and follow your direction to come to the car, you need to first meet them at their big emotion. Have them learn how to speak about their emotions. Both my four year old and two year old can tell me if they are sad, mad, happy or scared. Studies have shown that if a child can name their emotion, they can learn how to manage their emotion.
The second thing you can do to further your child's mental and emotional growth, is to give your child choice. It can be as simple as giving them a choice between two books at bedtime or two outfits in the morning. When children feel they have a choice and a say in their life, their confidence sky-rockets. We even try to implement choice in our discipline. Such as, "You can give your brother back his toy (after grabbing it out of his hand) or you can have a time-out upstairs." So rather than a reactive, drama-filled parenting style, you are laying out the choice for them. It is explicit and clear. It is nonjudgemental, it is following through with your words and consequences for action, and it shows them to trust what you say. At the end of the day, they need to know that mistakes are okay, mistakes are part of learning, and your love is unconditional.
The third tip is to connect with your family over activities you can all do together. Build that family bond together. My family loves to connect and spend time outdoors. Children do so well seeing parents doing what they love to do and not make every activity around the children, but rather the family as a whole. We love going on a daily walk together.
PS. My new Misfit Vapor is pretty amazing. It tracks steps, calories, distance, and heart rate and has a stand alone music player 🎶 and storage that connects with wireless headphones. It is swimproof and water resistant up to 50m, so you can swim, shower, or run in this watch without damaging it in any way. I love that it is compatible with both Android and iPhone phones and I receive on-display email, call, text, and app notifications too.
A fall is a time to show empathy for hurt and give a hug.
Don't look too close, Luke is having a melt-down. Expect those to happen along the way. Keep encouraging them to use their words. And to still hug them when they are feeling BIG feelings.
Luke and daddy look like twins, as they walk side-by-side down the walkway.
What are your tips for managing those BIG emotions of your toddler?