I’m looking for some guidance regarding rude or mean comments from my 3year old. I know that when he is in the midst of a meltdown, it is not my job to correct him. It’s my job to support him and let him know he’s safe. But when he is not having a tantrum, I’m not sure what my approach should be. If he demands something, or says “I don’t love you,” or “get out of my house,” should I be stay listening, or setting limits? I want him to feel free to express his feelings, but I want him to know that words have power, and that it’s not nice to say mean things to people. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
You are such an awesome Mama! You are right there listening to your sweet boy and thinking well of him!
I have a couple of thoughts that I hope will help…. As you said, it makes sense to listen when they are melting down. It’s really clear that they can’t think and that they are releasing feelings. It seems less clear when they are saying things that are not very pleasant.
The Hand in Hand perspective is that whenever a child is not their sweet cooperative self, then they are off-track and they CANNOT THINK. Therefore the words coming out of their mouths are not connected to the thinking system of their brain. You might think of those words as coming from the alarm system, because they are signalling “HELP! HELP! HELP! I’m feeling all alone, disconnected and scared over here. Somebody help me!!!”
The best way we’ve found to respond to that off-track verbal behavior is PLAYFULLY. When we connect and BRING a Limit playfully, we get some LAUGHTER going. Laughter is sooo connecting – which is exactly what they need – and Laughter is also an emotional release. It’s not as intense as crying and melting down – but it is releasing the light fears and tension that cause our children to feel disconnected and scared – that cause them to go off-track.
Our approach is called PLAYLISTENING – you PLAY with the off-track nutty behavior and you LISTEN for the laughter. NO tickling, because tickling is overpowering, and it was a sense of disconnection and powerlessness that caused them to go off-track in the first place.
Here are some ideas on how you can PLAY with verbal off-track behavior:
And, here is what I think of as our best go-to strategy for that nutty behavior: The VIGOROUS SNUGGLE
Lastly, I’ll mention that it’s really important for US to get emotional support through LISTENING PARTNERSHIPS. We need to get Listening Time – have someone LISTEN to us offload our feelings about how hard it is to hear our kiddos says those things. When we get Listening Time, get that emotional support, then we can see them as scared and disconnected, rather than taking their behavior personally. If you don’t have a Listening Partner yet, you can post in this discussion board, or in our Facebook group. Let us know if you’d like some support setting that up.
You are such a good Mama, Katherine! I can’t wait to hear how it goes when you respond playfully. It is going to deepen your connection and get your little guy right back on track. Let us know….
peace & smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi