In a recent 3-part parenting workshop where I shared Positive Discipline parenting tools, this was one of the biggest hits!
The tool is simple – use hugs in difficult moments. Here is 1 mom’s report after our first class where she learned about how to offer your child a hug when they are throwing a tantrum (see the details on the card to the left):
“I have to admit I really thought the idea was kinda silly and unlikely to work with my son. But I tried it the next time he threw a tantrum, and…. it worked! I simply got down to his level and opened my arms and said, ‘I need a hug’. He had the most surprised look on his face and was stopped in his tracks. He came and gave me a hug and we both left the situation smiling. It was awesome!”
Sometimes you don’t even have to use words. When your child is having a meltdown about not getting his way, you can simply offer comfort by getting down to his level and stretching out your arms. Be sure that you don’t change the limit you just set because that could send the wrong message. The intent here is that you can still offer your child empathy, even when you have set a limit. Empathy is always the gateway to bringing a child from where he is (emotionally), to where you want him to be. (Learn more about this idea by reading “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” by John Gottman).