How would kids learn if not for toys? I mean my 5 year old. Almost 6. Is constantly complaining that his brother is taking his toys. Even if that’s not the case – the small one finds a toy, starts playing with it, and then the big one realizes that is the toy of his dreams and he MUST have!
If there were no toys there would be no conflict and life would be boring.
Lucky for every parent I know – life is not boring. In fact it can be a bit too dramatic at times.
Which is why there are tools that we’ve learned from our teachers which attempt to work on emotions. Here are two examples and tools we’ve heard of.
1. Those toy incidents I mentioned have led to some big emotions. One of his previous teachers would ask their kids, “Is this reaction too big, too little, or just right?” And then they’d wait for the answer. Some kids know their reactions are too big. Others don’t and need some education. This is our job as parents, teachers, and leaders. To ‘teach a man to fish’ per say – to teach a child his emotions. Not for us to simply yell that this emotion is too big. Though I find myself failing a lot here.
The next time your child goes big on the meltdown, ask him or her that question. And if they happen to get one right, like resisting the urge to hit, and coming to ask for help, be sure to acknowledge that too – and don’t be irked that they need your help in solving something. This may be what you’ve asked for.
If your kid is a big complainer, griping that you don’t have the right cereal, or his backpack got moved in the mudroom. Try acknowledging your kids feelings in a calm and upbeat voice. This is the love part of love and logic. It shouldn’t be faked, but you should put on a bit of an act. Having some empathy – teaches empathy – so say, “I’m sorry, that must be frustrating to not be able to find your backpack”. And then encourage them to find a solution. “Could we put it on the hook next time so it’s not in the way of your sisters recital shoes?”
Resist the urge to say “That’s nothing to complain about” which can discourage kids from sharing their feelings. With practice, they’ll get out of the habit of complaining and make life more pleasant for everyone.