address the emotional cause of misbehavior
A few weeks ago when I returned home from one of my clinic shifts, my 3 year old daughter bit my 10 month old baby’s middle finger. After hearing my baby’s heart-breaking, screaming response and seeing her almost bleeding finger, I was irate. I yelled. I sent my 3 year old daughter to her room for 5 minutes, ALONE.
When the 5 minutes ended, it was time for my 3 year old to reconnect with me in my lap. I held her tight and asked her what she was feeling when she bit the baby. Through this conversation, she told me that she felt “left alone.”
By sending her to her room, I reinforced what she was feeling: left alone. If I gave her a time-out in my lap instead, I would have addressed the cause of the problem. After all, this is what I’m trained to do in naturopathic medical school: Find and treat the cause.
Although I was slow to do it in the above situation, my lap has been our new time-out hot spot. It is in my lap where I have been able to find and treat the cause of my daughter’s misbehavior. This is how I do it:
Mama: “What do you feel?”
Daughter: “I feel cryin’.”
Mama: “Where do you feel cryin’?”
Daughter: “In my belly.”
Mama: “What’s your belly feelin’?'”
It is through this little series of questions that I am able to help her identify what she feels and where she feels it in her body. This exercise helps her to connect with her emotions both mentally and physically, something many adults are not able to do.
Often times, there is a specific emotion a child is experiencing when she chooses to misbehave. If you can help your child identify that emotion, you can treat the emotion instead of the bad behavior.
How do you help your kids connect with their emotions?