Raising a spirited 16-month-old continues to expand and enlighten how I view children and parenting – and I’d love to share something I don’t see talked about in many places.
It’s this inner thought that parents often voice in our private parent coaching sessions:
“I just want my child to STOP!”
I can relate. Long days (or weeks) of whining/begging/arguing causes any parent to wonder, “What trick can I pull from my toolbox?”
I frequently turn to a radical parenting technique called crying-in-arms.
Crying-in-arms was coined by Aletha Solter, author of The Aware Baby and Tears and Tantrums, who advises parents on what to do when babies and children cry.
Aletha suggests that crying-in-arms, where you assist your child in releasing built-up tensions by letting them cry without trying to soothe, shoosh or distract, gives children a pressure valve to release feelings. Afterwards, children’s brains and nervous systems naturally drop into a more relaxed state and allow them to connect in more loving ways.
We’ve had a lot of extra stimulation this month and I recognize the built-up tension in my son Mason’s nervous system by his clinging, fussing, and hard-to-please mood.
This tension arises from everyday living but especially when there’s “extra.”
The “extra” in our lives lately includes an overnight family gathering with dozens of relatives (we call this a Moe-down), new toys with flashing lights and sounds that were previously banned, and Mason being carried away from the toolbox while he passionately uses baby sign language to request “screwdriver” (essentially being told “no” 20x/day).
So when I said, “lunchtime!” the other day and Mason arched his back and straightened his legs, refusing to go in the highchair, I knew this was the signal that he needed to have a good cry and let out feelings.
Listen to how I recently used this technique here (4 minutes)
In moments like this, when it seems like a child is defiant for no good reason, it’s beneficial to recognize that big emotion (or tension) builds up from everyday life occurrences.
Your patience and loving presence can help your child release tension if YOU are willing to stop and listen to their feelings.
Instead of asking, “how can I get my child to stop?” try this question instead, “what can I do to stop right now and help my child release tension?”
When you truly begin to see what’s beneath the behaviors you both can experience more peace and happiness at home.
Wishing you love this holiday season,
P.S. Dad of a 6-year-old recently said, “When I lead by dropping my own bad behavior my daughter does too.” If you want parenting tactics to reduce children’s behavior I have 3 open spots on my calendar starting January 5. Book an Assessment Session here to see if we can help.
Continuing education, advanced training, and parent coach certification for professionals who support intense kids and their families. View my mental health Ted Talk on helping families heal from stress here.
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