Responding to tantrums with cuddling?

You know you need a new approach to handling your child’s misbehavior if that same misbehavior continues occurring or begins to escalate. One mom, Mary, described how frustrated she was when her 3-year-old daughter threw tantrums. Mary’s response was to spank her daughter but this didn’t seem to be causing the tantrums to decrease.

One day while her daughter was throwing yet another tantrum, Mary picked her up and held her. Her daughter immediately stopped crying. Mary felt terrible that she had been spanking her daughter when all she really wanted was a little attention. From then on Mary made a special effort to spend a little more time each day just cuddling her daughter and it worked wonders!

If you’re interested in exploring new ideas for more positively handling misbehavior, check out the Priceless Parenting Guidebook. Ideas for Handling Everyday Parenting Challenges:

Giving Thanks to Parents


by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you hang my
first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately
wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you feed a
stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind
to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make my
favorite cake for me, and I learned that the little
things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I heard you say a
prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always
talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make a
meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I
learned that we all have to help take care of each

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I saw you give of
your time and money to help people who had nothing,
and I learned that those who have something should
give to those who don’t.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you take care
of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have
to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw how you
handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t
feel good, and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come
from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw that you
cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I learned most of
life’s lessons that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I looked at you and
wanted to say, "Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn’t looking."

Surprising research on children

The recently released book, NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, reviews some things researchers have learned about raising children – often counter to popular belief. For example:
  • Specific praise is better than general praise in positively effecting children’s behavior. Children who are given general praise for their intelligence are less likely to choose challenging work in the future while children who are praised for their effort are more willing to choose a difficult task.
  • Getting enough sleep is essential for learning to solidify and for children to do their best at school. NutureShock reports on research from Minnesota which found “Teens who received A’s averaged about fifteen more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged 15 more minutes than the C’s, and so on.”
  • Teens who argue with their parents may be showing respect, not disrespect.
  • Preschoolers who are given the opportunity to participate in structured role plays through the Tools of the Mind program developed the ability to focus and stay on task. These higher-order thinking skills led to significantly better academic test scores.
While the book isn’t prescriptive in telling parents how to change their behavior based on the reported research, parents will gain some interesting insights.

What's the tone of your home?

Parents play a lead role in setting the overall tone in their families. Parents whose overall tone tends to be negative often have homes filled with stress and tension. While parents who take a more positive approach create calmer, happier homes.

A Home Filled with Tension

One mom told me about all the stress in her home. One of her three sons was doing very poorly in school. She and her husband were constantly nagging Joe to do his homework although it didn't seem to help much. Sometimes Joe even skipped school and they responded by yelling at him and grounding him.

However, Joe would leave the house even though he was grounded. Home was not a welcoming place for Joe. This family turned things around when they made the tough decision to let Joe worry about his homework and grades instead of them. When they stopped nagging him, he started spending more time at home and he actually began taking more responsibility for his homework.

Replacing Negative Statements with Positive Statements

Sometimes parents get in the habit of interacting with their children using negative statements and commands. Read the following statements one dad made to his children and think about how you would feel if you were a child hearing these remarks:
  • "You aren't going outside until you put sunscreen on."
  • "Stop messing around with that!"
  • "If you don't hurry up and get your shoes on, I'm not taking you."
  • "You've already watched too much TV. You should not have turned it on again, now turn it off."
  • "You're not eating dinner until you wash your hands."
  • "You are dawdling and we're going to be late!"
  • "Stop bugging your sister!"

How do you feel after reading these statements?

Let's look at how these same ideas could be expressed more positively:

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Orders disguised as questions

Parents sometimes use questions when what they are saying is really a statement, not a question. For example, when it was time to get ready for bed one mom asked her daughter, Anna, “Do you think it’s time to get ready for bed?” Believing she had a choice, Anna responded “No, it’s not time.”

When mom told her that in fact it was time to get ready for bed, Anna threw herself on the floor sobbing and complaining. This wasn’t exactly the result mom wanted! Mom may have gotten a better response had she either just stated it was time to get ready for bed or given Anna a choice like “Do you want to start getting ready for bed now or in two minutes?”

When we ask our children a question that indicates they have a choice when they really do not have a choice, we may unintentionally trigger an argument.

Setting expectations ahead of time

One Mom explained how much better her son behaved when she went over her expectations for his behavior beforehand. For example, as they were driving to the park, she would go through what was going to happen:
  • We’re going to park our car by the playground.
  • We’ll hold hands when we walk through the parking lot to the playground.
  • You can play for 30 minutes.
  • I will give you a 5 minute warning before your time is up.
  • We will walk calmly back to the car.
She would ask him questions like “What will it look like when we’re walking back to the car?” “Will you be kicking and screaming?” When she helped him think through the situation ahead of time, she found he was much more likely to behave in appropriate ways.

New parenting guidebook!

Parenting is the most important job we’ll ever have. How we choose to parent our children will significantly impact both our current and future happiness. Parents have told me they wish their children came with an owners manual to tell them how to handle the tough situations without breaking a sweat!

Unfortunately, babies don’t come with manuals. However, there is a universal body of research and knowledge about how effective parents raise respectful, responsible children.

The new Priceless Parenting Guidebook: Ideas for Handling Everyday Parenting Challenges captures this knowledge. Practical ideas for building a positive family life are presented through real parenting stories.

  • Identify conversation roadblocks you may unintentionally be using with your children. (p.13)
  • Discover a process for guiding children to solving their own problems (p. 21)
  • Find out how to avoid food battles (p. 47)
  • Learn how to get children to respond the first time you make a request. (p. 60)
  • Discover how to stay out of power struggles by using repetitive responses. (p. 64)
  • Find out how to shape the desired behaviors you want. (p. 68)

Annoying kids with unwanted help

Bill described how much he wanted to help his 5th grade son with his math homework. Bill enjoys math and was looking forward to sharing his knowledge with his son, Mark.

He joined Mark at the table where he was doing homework and asked Mark to explain the problem he was working on. Mark explained the problem but was clearly annoyed with having to do this. Bill interrupted Mark’s explanation when he saw that Mark was taking the wrong approach on solving the problem. Eventually Mark and Bill became so irritated and frustrated that they blew up at each other.

Bill left feeling rejected. After discussing the situation with other parents, he decided that next time he will wait for an invitation to help with homework. If he does get in a similar situation and realizes that Mark is annoyed, he will try saying something like “I can see you are annoyed. I’ll be in the other room, just give a shout if you want my help.”

Problems with praise

Researchers studying the effects of praising children for general abilities like their intelligence or their artistic ability have found that this type of praise encourages children to take fewer risks and not try as hard. General praise might sound like:
  • “You’re really smart.”
  • “You’re an awesome soccer player!”
  • “Your drawing ability is remarkable.”
What could possibly be wrong with general praise? Children receiving this type of praise may conclude that all they need is their natural ability and do not need to work hard. They may also become afraid of trying anything risky that might prove they aren’t as gifted as others think they are.

In Po Bronson’s article, “How Not to Talk to Your Kids”, he describes an experiment by Carol Dweck which found that students praised for their intelligence instead of their effort were far less likely to choose a more challenging puzzle. According to Bronson,
Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
Parents who expect their children to fail as part of the learning process and who also guide them in overcoming failures give their children a wonderful gift.

Fostering Growth using the Mentoring Parenting Style

What is your normal parenting style?  Do you give your kids orders?  Do you do a lot of things for them that they are capable of doing thems...