Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WFMW - Beyond Consequences

There's a great book called "Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control". It talks about there being two states of emotion that under gird everything we do: Love and Fear.

When our children act out in anger, defiance and other negative ways... they are doing so out of FEAR. We need to meet our children where they are at, and parent them through Love. This means that instead of always giving a consequence for a behavior we need to look at WHY the behavior is occurring and see if we can meet our child in their pain.

Look past their behavior and see their fear.

For example, my foster daughter can't handle being yelled at. It immediately sends her into a stressed state that I can see. And, then she starts to get angry, really angry... I haven't yelled at her pretty much the entire time she's been with me, but I did see someone else yell at her and her response wasn't pretty. The thing is, that she was reacting out of fear. What this means is that instead of getting mad at her for reacting like she did, I stayed calm and just walked with her. I stayed beside her and spoke softly and calmly.

If your child is fighting you to go to bed at night, for example... maybe they are afraid of the dark. Did you ask them? Maybe they are afraid you won't be there in the morning. You should reassure them. Maybe where they were before you always had the door closed and that memory alone causes them fear... This is instead of giving them a consequence for not listening to you or yelling at them. Try it to see if maybe there is something ELSE going on instead of just being defiant. You just might be surprised to see that there is.

When our children are in a state of fear, we need to be in a state of calm. The calmer person can help the stressed person calm down. Don't worry about talking during the actual situation... try to diffuse it. Then, LATER once they are calm... ask them about it.

This works for Lil M and I, too. If she gets upset, she won't talk. She freezes. I can see 'that' look in her eye... she's shut down for the moment. So, I do what I can to stay calm (which I am not perfect at) and after a few minutes she will calm down. After an hour or more, sometimes I can get her to tell me what the problem was. It's a work in progress.

But I do know that this works for me. It's much better than always getting riled up and giving consequences. Sometimes Mommy needs to walk away and give herself a time-out. Or sometimes Mommy needs to bring the child CLOSER to her for a time-in.

The most important thing is to parent out of Love.

Also, sometimes, we have our own fears that are brought up by the behaviors of our children. Think about that. Maybe something happened to you when you were a child and now every time they scream in the shower you immediately get mad. Why? We need to deal with our own fears so we can help our children through theirs. I love this book and looking at parenting from that place has been good for me and our family, I think.

Go here to see what works for other families.


1 comment:

Laraf123 said...

This is a great post--just the reminder I needed right now. It reminds me of how my 3 year old wouldn't go to bed last night. Finally,I stopped arguing and walked downstairs. Five minutes later, he came down, took one look at me and then went back to his bed. Seeing me go about the nightly household chores was enough to calm his fear of being alone in his bedroom.