I’d like to talk today about working with kids. And I’ll talk about a way to talk with kids that works—a way that soothes the angry or out-of-control child, and a way that helps the parent in the process.
When faced with an angry child, the first thing I want you to do is regulate yourself. Stop. Breathe. Take a moment before you respond. If you start to scare yourself with, “if he keeps acting this way, he’ll end up in jail!” just calm yourself again. Don’t fix anything externally yet. The first step is to internally regulate yourself.
Truly, nothing matters more. Now, from a regulated place, try to see what your child is trying to tell you with their acting out behavior, Get down on one knee (if you’re child is young), make eye contact, and say, “I want to hear you”. Tell me about what’s happening. And if your child yells something at you, stay regulated, and tell them, “I hear how angry you are, and how important it is that I understand __.” Speak to your child from a regulated place. Let them be heard. Nothing calms a child more than being heard.
You’re calming your child through your genuine, regulated presence and your listening to him or her. As you now communicate with them in a way that helps them feel heard, and helps them calm his or her hurt or angry feelings, that we can have a meaningful conversation. But until I regulated myself, and I’ve helped my child regulate, there’s really no content to be shared because what’s being shared is simply the venting of the feelings and the protection of the self.