TIPS FOR TEACHING KIDS TOOLS
- Tell them what you’ve learned. Some kids will be interested in the information, while others will be bored. Meet them where they are.
- Ask for their perspective. Care how what you’re telling them affects them.
- Give them control over solutions. Be letting them try different ways and NOT being successful. You can always revisit if things don’t work.
Jack noticed that his daughter Kim had been acting extremely disrespectful when she didn’t get her way. He wants to teach her how to handle Yuck without being rude to him.
Jack: Kim, can I talk to you about something?
Kim: I guess so.
Jack: Recently I noticed that whenever Mom or I tell you that you can’t have something — like Sunday we told you that you couldn’t go to your friend’s house because it was too late in the day — you talk to us in a way that we don’t like. So I was wondering… Can you tell me what’s going on for YOU when we tell you that you can’t do something?
Kim: I hate it.
Jack: I can understand that. What makes you hate it so much?
Kim: Well I feel like I can’t do the things I want.
Jack: And when you can’t do the things you want, you want to be mean to us?
Kim: Well it’s not that I WANT to be mean. I don’t even realize I’m doing it.
Jack: It feels like that anger takes over, huh?
Jack: Well you know the rule in this house is that we can’t talk to each other like that. But I know sometimes it’s not easy to follow that rule. So I want to help.
Jack: Well, sometimes I get angry too.
Kim (scoffs): Yeah, I’ve noticed.
Jack: I was thinking maybe we could work on our anger together.
Jack: Well I learned that in order to start to respond differently when you’re angry, you have to first recognize that you’re getting angry… and then practice doing something different than what you normally do.
Kim: You normally yell.
Jack: Yeah, I do.
Kim: So what are you going to do instead?
Jack: Well I think when I notice that I’m getting angry… when I feel the urge to yell… I’m going to find the farthest wall I can see and walk back and forth from that wall 5 times.
Jack: Well, I have to let all of that energy out that I have inside. But I want to do it in a way that isn’t rude to anyone else.
Kim: That’s a good idea.
Jack: So what do you want to do to get your energy out — without being mean to me or Mom?
Kim: I’m not sure if walking would help me.
Jack: Has anything helped in the past?
Kim: I used to squeeze my stuffed animals when I was younger…
Jack: So you might need to squeeze something now.
Kim: Yeah but I don’t have stuffed animals around!
Jack: What if you imagined them?
Kim: No, I don’t think that will work. But maybe I could squeeze my arms? I do that in school sometimes when I’m really upset.
Jack: OK. Let’s try practicing that.
Kim: Practicing sounds dumb. I don’t want to do that.
Jack: OK. I’m going to practice though, because I’ve heard it doesn’t work if you don’t. Will you remind ME to practice if I forget?
Kim: I guess so.
Jack: OK, and then you can just try to remember to squeeze yourself without practicing.
Jack: We’ll see how we do!
DEALING WITH RESISTANCE
Your child denies their own past negative behavior
What it may mean: Your child may be ashamed of how they’ve acted in the past, and talking about it brings up Yuck… So they’re coping by avoiding the truth or shutting down.
What you can say to yourself:
“My child may not be able to admit their behavior yet. We’ll work up to it. Until then, maybe it will be less threatening if we talk about it in a context that isn’t related to them.”
What you can say to them:
“You know that when you were reading that book, that character Angie got so angry all the time? I wonder if we can figure out what made her so upset… and then how she could have handled situations better.”