What are your Words of Wisdom?

Earlier this month, I was talking to a neighbor who attended Early Childhood Family Education classes with her son. He is now in his first year of college, and she still clearly remembers the best bit of advice she received and held on to throughout his childhood years. She told me that whenever he started to get overwhelmed or upset she would review HALTS. This is a sort of checklist to go through as you watch your child slip closer and closer to a tantrum. Is your child Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired or Sick?  She said that by trying to stay calm and reviewing this checklist, she could often find a way to address the larger problem and shift gears with her son. Laughing, she told me this worked for the two of them well into the high school years!

As a mother of a young child, I often returned to the calming statement: Be Kind, Calm and Firm. This is advice from author Jane Nelson in her books on Positive Discipline. The words were great to have as a mantra, and my ECFE classes taught me how to actually work towards BEING kind, calm and firm all at the same time.

The Early Childhood Family Education staff for Hopkins Public Schools remembered some of the words of wisdom they were able to live by while raising their own young children. We thought we would share some of these with you; one of them might just become a helpful principal for your own parenting!

Calming words and actions are especially helpful during times that feel frenzied and rushed.

  • Tell yourself to slow down so you can go faster. This feels like an oxymoron until you actually try it.
  • Remind yourself that by tomorrow it won’t matter if you were five minutes late today.
  • Plan for the delays: If your child takes 10 minutes to put on his shoes, plan that time into your routine.
  • Remind yourself that you losing patience and control rarely ever helps the situation go smoothly.
  • Looking for a book for children which talks about getting through the rush? On the Go Time by Elizabeth Verdick.

When sibling relations are a struggle, what you say and do can make a difference:

  • State the facts: two boys and one toy. It doesn’t solve the problem, but when said in a calm voice it helps everyone see the issue.
  • A nice opening phrase when you need to get involved in a squabble: How are we going to figure this out? This reminds everyone in the family that we try to work together to help each other.
  • Two statements focused on cooperation: We all need to help each other right now or help me help you.
  • Sometimes siblings really need a cool down period, and it’s ok to offer that as a means of calming down.

Is a tantrum on its way?

  • Acknowledge what is about to happen: This is hard – and I can do hard things.
  • Calmly label your child’s feelings. They may not react, but it acknowledges what they are going through.
  • Can you help your child calm down by addressing HALTS? (see above for explanation).
  • Deep breathing helps everyone – adult and child alike.  Together you can smell the flowers and blow out the candles (this is breathing in and out creatively).
  • When things seem to be going down the wrong path, ask for a do-over.  Start your do-over with a hug and see if that can pull you both together and into something more positive.




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