I think happy thoughts


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Positive Parenting

How do you stay positive when your child’s behaviors are driving you crazy? This is a tough question. Every parent knows that they have had a point in their lives when they were pushed to yell, scream, or worse because they were so worn down and did not know what else to do.  The same cycle seems to happen over and over where your child’s emotions and your emotions get out of control. This is something that happens often but doesn’t have to.

If you take a step back and start to look at the cycle of what is triggering you and your child, you will be able to better regulate your own emotions. And you will be able to start teaching your child how to regulate his/her own emotions.  Positive parenting is about looking for ways to change the situation into a more positive one instead of continuing to punish bad behaviors. You have to start looking at the big picture and do a little detective work.

Figuring out what is triggering your child’s bad mood may not be obvious at first but look at the patterns. What time of day does it usually happen, what is your child usually doing, and who is around when it happens? These types of questions help you to get more information about the cycle of behaviors that are happening. Then you can come up with a plan to intervene earlier on before the behaviors are out of control and your child is having a tantrum and you are screaming.

It’s also important to factor in your own triggers so that you know when you are getting overwhelmed. You can get better at taking a break and then talking to your child in a more calm and rational manner. This helps the child understand what behavior you don’t like and takes away the emotional reaction to your mood.

The key to any new approach in parenting is to plan ahead, practice, and allow for mistakes. Be willing to stick with it even if you don’t see results right away. If you have been doing the same type of parenting for years then a new approach won’t change things overnight, but it will change things. Positive approaches are very effective and leave you feeling good about what you are teaching your child.

What is the best way to calm anxiety in children?

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Calming anxiety is not always easy but the first place to start is yourself. Children often pick up on the anxieties of the adults around them.  Children feel uneasy and anxious if the adults around them are anxious, upset, or angry. They often don’t understand what your anxieties are about and generalize it to themselves. This is especially true for very young children who often don’t see themselves as separate from their parents. Any feelings and emotions you display they start to take on as their own.

One way to start curbing this anxiety is to limit your child’s exposure to adult conversations and outside media like the news. Limiting their exposure can drastically cut back on the things that they worry about. It doesn’t happen over night but over time they become less involved in the adult world and start to worry less about those things that were drifting into their consciousness at too early an age.

For children who are by nature worriers, anxiety sneaks up quickly. Acknowledging their worries is important but don’t let them or yourself dwell on it. Address the worry and move on. Don’t let the child get stuck ruminating on the same topic over and over.  If you know that certain things usually cause anxiety for your child, you can also bring up ideas for how to deal with it ahead of time.  Then later that day when you encounter the situation, you can quickly remind your child of how to cope and move them along.

One last thing to keep in mind: always model for your child how you want them to behave. If you see a big bug and start to scream and yell about it, guess what your child will probably develop a fear of bugs. “Teach by example.”  By tackling your own fears you are helping yourself and your child!