Children can have their temperaments… and so can we adults. Sometimes they mix together like fire and ice or oil and water- and this tension can be increased during vacations or times of high stress. We offer some tips and tools (some of which are from our books) for calming down and refocusing both you and your child.
A. Behavioral Techniques for Attempting to Change YOUR CHILD’s Behavior:
1. “Whisper Technique“- Mystify your child by whispering a request or command to them rather than yelling. We learn at an early age that anything that is being whispered MUST be something secretive worth listening to. Therefore, your child is more apt to pay attention to a whisper rather than us yelling at them YET AGAIN. We respond to behavioral conditioning. If we are given the same stimulus (ie, yelling) over and over, then we reach a point after which we extinguish our response to it. Yes, this is likely why our children just continue going about their business when they perceive that we are yelling at them frequently. Our yelling just becomes part of the “background noise” that tends to blend into the background. Whispering, however, would be a novel stimulus and would perhaps get their attention. if will also set a calmer atmosphere than the yelling stimulus and may lead to a more peaceful home environment.
2. “Chore Charts” – If many of the arguments in the home are about household chores and perceived inequities in workload, it truly can help to post a caper or chore chart in a prominent area (such as on the refrigerator) where everyone will see it every day. Be sure to equitable in overall workload and be prepared to put down what even the parents are responsible for as the older children get, the more observant they are as to what the parents are doing to contribute to house work. Also rotate the less desirable jobs so that no one perceives that they “always get stuck with the worst job” (like cleaning out the litter box or taking out the garbage).
3. Token Economy System– If behavioral issues are a major problem for certain children, then you may create a weekly or monthly calendar or chart that shows how behaviors are progressing through the week. Discuss with your child specific target behaviors which would include what behaviors are not desirable and what behaviors might be rewarded. Make a list of the behaviors that can gain positive points and what behaviors would get negative points and make certain the points are weighted appropriately. For instance, taking the garbage out or cleaning a room might gain 1 or two points. Not putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket might be minus 1 but pinching a sibling might be minus 2 or minus 3. Punching a hole in the wall would be minus 5, etc. Everyone must know what the “rules” are and all caregivers in the home must agree on the point system for it to be reinforced and to work well. At the end of the week you tally up all the points and see what the results are. You then must have a reward system that all again agree upon as to appropriate rewards (bonuses such as a friend sleepover, movie, ice cream, allowance, or extra television or computer time, etc.) versus punishments (less TV or computer time, less allowance than usual, etc).
B. Shifting YOUR OWN attitude and perceptions so that you can experience more joy and peace in your life. One of the topics that we cover in our books Shift: 12 Keys to Shift Your Life and Shift: A Woman’s Guide to Transformation is the issue of Anger and Resentment. We give the following techniques in the book for rapidly diminishing anger in any situation:
1. Chi Gong Exercise for Releasing Anger:
Think of an issue that makes you feel angry. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands at your sides. Tuck in your pelvis and slightly bend your knees, as if you were sitting on an imaginary tall stool behind you. As you breathe in, slowly bring your hands up at your sides to the level of your shoulders with your arms straight and as you reach the height of your shoulders, turn your palms upward facing the sky. Then continue to raise your arms, bringing your hands over your head. Make a fist with each hand. While making a loud ?Tchu? or ?Chew? sound, forcefully exhale while rapidly bringing down your arms all the way to thigh level and opening your fists, flinging and releasing the angry energy into the earth. Feel the tension releasing from your muscles as you perform this maneuver. Repeat this motion at least 3 more times or until you feel the anger completely released.
2. Ceremonial Anger Release:
Write down on a piece of paper the issue that is creating anger or resentment for you. This may be in a form of a letter to the person with whom you have the issue or may just be your own angry thoughts that you are feeling. We present three ways of performing this ceremonial release. You may, of course, create your own ceremony that feels appropriate for you.
The first ceremony involves tying your note to a helium balloon and releasing the note into the air to be carried away. (Note: Make certain that you have no identifying information on the note that you have written if you choose to use this method as the balloon will inevitably pop once it reaches a high altitude and your note may return to the earth several miles away.)
The second ritual involves burying your note in the ground to allow the anger to be released and transformed by the earth.
The third way of transforming anger is performed by burning your note outside in a ceremonial fire or in a fireplace. Of course, be sure to contain your ceremonial fire in a safe manner; never leave a fire untended, and make certain you have water, sand, or a fire extinguisher to put the fire out when you are finished with your ceremony.
3. The ‘La Cucaracha’ Technique:
If you have to be around a person that you harbor anger towards and you are not yet ready to transform the anger or resentment, then this technique may be helpful to you. Picture the person as a giant cockroach. While this may sound bizarre, it can really work. Think about it. A cockroach is completely predictable; it will come out in the dark and runs to hide when the light is on. We do not expect the cockroach to act any differently on any given day. The level of consciousness of a cockroach dictates that it will indeed come out in the dark and run to hide when a light is on. We do not get angry at a cockroach for not coming out when the lights are on.
Think about someone who repeatedly annoys you. If you really think about it, aren’t their behaviors pretty predictable after a while? The specifics may change but the pattern probably remains fairly stable over time. Isn’t that person sort of like a cockroach; or, for those of you squeamish about cockroaches, like an ant in one of those plastic ant farms you might have had as a kid? Remember how those ants would move the piece of bread around while you were away at school, or out playing, or while you slept at night? Yet you didn’t sit there and scream at the ant or beat on the side of the fragile plastic walls of the ant farm, did you? If you did, this exercise may not work for you.
Now, think of the person whom you are harboring anger towards and see them as if they are a giant ant or cockroach wearing human clothes, with their antennae bobbing around on the top of their head and their little insect arms dangling off their sides. If you picture this image when you are around the person in question, then you will likely not be so attached to their behaviors and will not take what they say or do so seriously or so personally. Sometimes it can help to hum softly under your breath, “La cucaracha, La cucaracha”. The Spanish term for cockroach is ‘cucaracha’.
You will have more of a sense of humor towards the person angering you, your self, and the situation in general if you use this technique. Of course, you should remove your self from any abusive situation. This would not be an appropriate means of dealing with someone who is physically or emotionally abusive towards you.
Take a deep breath – our children grow up so quickly. Before you know it they will take flight to create more powerfully under their own wings 🙂
The Shift Doctors (Tracy Latz, M.D. & Marion Ross, Ph.D.)
*Check out The Shift Doctors’ books at the Amazon link by clicking here and the Meditation CDs at the digstation link by clicking here To see more articles on personal transformation, health, metaphysical topics and spiritual travel by The Shift Doctors see their website at shiftyourlife.com
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These are some excellent tips! I was yelled at alot as a kid. When I became a father I became sadly aware that I was yelling at my kids. So using some techniques similar to these I have found more constructive ways to get my kids to redirect some of their less favorable ambitions
Very glad that you liked the post, Aaron 🙂
Awesome advice on both how to parent better and be a better person. The two go hand in hand! Thank you