Koemba Blog

Did you grow up hearing phrases like, ’She’s a naughty child’? My mum frequently said it about me. I was the child who was always pushing the limits – the child testing the boundaries.

Fast forward to 2015.

I’m the last out the door and everyone is already in the car.

My adult son teasingly eases the car forward, as though he’ll leave me behind. I jump into the back seat and smilingly exclaim to him,

‘Oh, you’re naughty!’

’Naughty,’ repeats my toddler grandson.

‘’That’s a new word,’ says his mother.  ‘He’s never heard that one before!’

As we travel I muse how much I appreciate that his parents never label him as ‘naughty’. They never refer to him as a ‘bold child’, even at times when he’s acting out. They are aware that when his behaviour is challenging for them, there’s something going on for him that needs attention. He’s not ‘naughty’!

‘Isn’t it strange, ‘ I comment. ‘We never use the word “naughty” to describe an adult, unless we say ‘He has a naughty sense of humour,” or “naughty underwear”.’ We give this term a different meaning for adults. When we talk about a child being naughty, whether it’s a toddler tantrum, a child who won’t listen, or a defiant child, what we’re really meaning is, ‘My child won’t do what he’s told,’ ‘My child won’t comply.’ In other words, we’re saying, ‘My child won’t follow my agenda.’  But just because your child is choosing to follow his one path, not yours, doesn’t mean he deserves a shaming label.

‘Do you have a word in Danish for “naughty?”‘ I ask Sophia.

‘No, not really,’ she says. ‘If we were talking about a child who seems to be always acting out we might comment that the child was, “Uopdragen”. “Opdrage” means, “to raise”. So “uopdragen” literally  means “unraised”. ‘

As we drive along the highway I muse on this. “Uopdragen – unraised,” isn’t saying the child is “naughty”; it isn’t shaming the child.  It isn’t making the child “wrong”. It’s saying the parent hasn’t fulfilled the responsibility of raising the child; the parent hasn’t given the child the support and skills needed to interact successfully.

I think the Danes are recognising something significant here; it’s our job as parents to successfully raise our children. To  “opdrage” – to raise your child, whether your child is “easy to raise” or challenging  – takes mindful parenting, commitment and consistency.

As parents it is our responsibility to raise a child. This is our task – blaming or shaming our child won’t achieve what’s needed.

 

5 Parenting Tips for when you might be tempted to label your child as ‘naughty’. 

1. Your children’s behaviour is about them, your response is about you.  

When your children act out, it doesn’t mean you’re a “bad parent”. It means your children are trying to let you know something is “not ok” for them.  If you let your thoughts run away with, “What will other people think?” you won’t be able to focus on what your child needs.

 

2. Respond rather than React 

Think of ‘React’ as in a knee-jerk reaction  – instant and without thinking. In any situation you have a split second to determine whether this is an emergency, (where you need to instantly react to ensure safety) or whether to pause and assess what’s needed. In most situations, except for “emergency” concerns, if you want to “raise your child”, it’s more helpful to pause to assess, then respond in a way that gives your child the message, “I’m here for you.”

 

2. Focus on your breathing.

When you want to respond, but can feel your own anger or anxiety is likely to overwhelm, take a moment to focus on slowing and steadying your breathing. When your own strong emotions get in the way it becomes impossible to figure out what’s needed in that moment to effectively ‘raise a child’. When you steady your breathing you will steady your thoughts.

 

3. Remember to ‘HALT’.

When you need to deal with your child’s challenging behaviour, first stop and use the ‘HALT signpost‘ to ask yourself, ‘Is my child Hungry? / Anxious or Angry? / Lonely or iLL? /  Tired?’ When you respond to your child’s needs often the challenging behaviour will dissipate.  Ask yourself, ‘What’s really needed here?’

 

4. Remember, ‘All behaviour makes sense.’ 

Often our children’s challenging behaviour can be frustrating or worrying for us as parents. Remember your children are not “naughty” and they not trying to “get at you”. They are trying to let you know they are in a “not-okay” place. They are acting out because they need your support. Ask yourself, ‘What might this behaviour be telling me?’

 

5.  Recognise a Challenging Moment is a Teaching Opportunity

Maybe it’s a teaching moment for yourself as parent – about what works, what doesn’t and what’s needed. And sometimes it’s an opportunity for you to help your child learn about life.  Most times that lesson is not a lecture, but what we model. The lesson is in our actions.  Maybe it’s a lesson of, “You are loved, no matter what,’ or a lesson in kindness, a lesson in, ‘I trust you.’ What lessons do you most want your child to learn?

 

For more parenting tips about how to ‘raise’ your child, particularly at times when their behaviour is challenging, see new Parenting book, ‘BEHAVE – What To Do When Your Child Won’t  by Val Mullally.

Did you see Pixar’s movie ‘Inside Out’?

Every parent can find a treasure trove of Parenting incidents in this film that can challenge you to think about how to be the mindful parent you’d love to be – or the ‘parent -from-hell’ you never want to be, especially if you’re facing a transition. Parenting is always more challenging at a time of relocation  – whether you’re moving house, moving country, or facing a change like your child starting a new school.

When family stresses overwhelm us, even the ‘dream child’ can become a serious parenting headache, as we see with Disney Pixar’s character Riley. If you haven’t seen the film, even watching the ‘Inside Out’ trailer gives a taste of what can lie in store for the unsuspecting parent when regular family life is thrown off balance.

Perhaps you’ve already experienced a moment when your precious, well-behaved child suddenly becomes the disdainful pre-teen – who answers you back, rolls her eyes or storms out the room.

‘What happened to my sweet co-operative child?’ you ask yourself. ‘How do I get my child to behave?’ The thing is, you can’t. You can’t make any child behave. But, even when you are under stress, you can figure out how to respond in a way that’s more likely to create co-operation. Here’s how:

Eight Tips to Turn Your Family Upset into an Opportunity for Connection

 

1. Don’t let your Anger have the driving seat.

Like Riley’s home, a little incident can easily escalate. Riley’s dad let his Anger take command, and within seconds, the incident down-spiralled into out-of-control conflict. Riley’s Dad didn’t have to let Anger dictate – it was his choice.

 

2. Keep control of your emotions.

The thing is, either you are in charge of your emotions or your emotions are in charge of you.  Riley needed her dad to remain the parent, to stay in a calm place, especially when her emotions were getting out of control. Your children need you to remain the adult.

 

 3. Mind the gap!

There’s a momentary ‘pause’ in every incident where you can let your emotions take control, or where you can focus on your breathing, and centre yourself, so that you can figure out what’s needed.

 

4. Ask yourself, “What really matters here?” 

The outcome of a parent letting Anger take command can be disastrous. Riley’s family crisis could have ended up being a parent’s worse nightmare. For every action there is a reaction. I’m not saying that Riley’s eye-rolling behaviour was acceptable – but it’s when, where and how a parent deals with reactive behaviour that makes the difference.

 

5. HALT – what’s going on for your child!

Stop – for just a second and ask yourself ‘Is she Hungry/ Angry / Anxious / Lonely / iLL or Tired?’  Responding to your child’s ‘HALT’ needs will often defuse a potential crisis.

(You can discover more about the HALT signpost and other useful tools on the Koemba  ‘BEHAVE -What To Do When Your Child Won’t’ Online Parenting Course).

Take a moment to think about the situation from Riley’s perspective, she was ‘Hungry’ for her old home and probably also hungry for her parents’ attention (they were both worried and stressed about the house move, the furniture not arriving and the new job).In fact, if you think about all that’s been going on for Riley, you will probably also figure she was Angry, Anxious, Lonely and Tired. This child needs support!

 

6. Ask yourself, “What might my child’s behaviour be telling me?”

Using HALT as a guide, when you listen to your child’s behaviour, you’ll figure out what’s needed. When you are in a situation like Riley’s parents, you might not be able to provide an easy or immediate solution, but with the ‘HALT’ signpost to guide you, you will be able to see your child’s perspective. You’ll be able figure out together what is possible, when you work together as a team.

 

7. HALT – what’s going on for you!

Remember you are not “super-mum” or “super-dad”. You won’t always respond in an ideal way. There are times when Anger (or Fear, Disgust or Sadness) might grab control. Go for a walk. Regain your calm. HALT – and ask yourself,  ˜Am I Hungry/ Angry / Anxious / Lonely / iLL or Tired? Riley’s dad had been so busy trying to sort out the stresses the family were facing he hadn’t taken time to recharge his own batteries. If he’d taken time to relax with Riley (or with himself!) he’d have been in a better place to respond helpfully to her.

You can’t be the parent you’d love to be if you’re not minding your own needs too.

8. Build in time for fun as a family.

When we are under stress taking time for fun is the first thing to go out the window. But  fun, ˜feel good” experiences release endorphins into your system, which counteract the stress chemicals, which reduces your likelihood of reacting unhelpfully. Fun as a family matters most when you think you can least afford it, because  it will be easier to deal effectively with the upsets when you and your family are more relaxed.

 

And a final thought:

 At the start of this incident  in “Inside Out”, Riley’s mum is trying to be kind and understanding – but they still have a family meltdown. The secret is  – it’s all about timing. The more your child moves towards her teen years, the more will be her need for autonomy, for doing things HER way. She’ll tell you what she wants you to know in her way and in her time. If you try to force the connection, rather than let it unfold naturally when she’s ready to talk, you could be heading for meltdown. If she resists connection, give her space, remain approachable, create opportunities for fun and relax together. Build the sense of connection so she’ll want to want to share with you whats going on for her.  For the three key strategies every parent needs to gain insights into how to deal with discipline issues in the home, particularly if you are coping with moving house, moving country or facing some other family transition like your child starting school, see “BEHAVE: What To Do When Your Child Won’t”.

If you have serious concerns about your child’s behaviour, it’s important to seek professional help.

What insights did your family gain from “Inside Out”?  Please share in the comments box below.

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At last our online Parenting Programme is released. Parenting author Val Mullally has taken the very best of her work to create this online opportunity for you to discover the Parenting secrets that can lead to a calmer, happier home. And to celebrate we’re offering you a fabulous launch discount! The six week course can be yours for only $84 if you sign up now!  (Save $33 – usual price $117!) That’s only  $14 per session! To learn more about ‘BEHAVE- What to Do When Your Child Won’t’ Online Parenting Course CLICK HERE!

 

Paula sighed as she watched her 20 month old son romping on the floor with her mother’s dachshund. He adored the dog. How was she going to explain to him that ‘Wow Wow’  had to go back to Granny’s home when she returned from her overseas vacation? How would her child cope with the loss?

From the time Matthew could crawl he’d head straight for Wow Wow, even though their distance from his granny’s home meant he didn’t often have the opportunity to play with his four-legged friend.

It had seemed a great idea at the time to offer to doggy-sit for these few weeks. But Matthew didn’t have the vocabulary or the grasp of language to understand that Wow Wow soon had to return to his own home.

‘It’s been so great for him to  have the dog’s company,’ thought Paula. ‘How do I help him understand? To cope with the goodbye?’

She hadn’t expected to find the answer to her question at the ‘Play’ workshop that evening, arranged by the Parent and Toddler Group.

It was a fascinating evening as the parents explored just how important Play is for all aspects of the child’s development. But it was the demonstration of ‘Structured Play’ that was the ‘Aha’ moment of the evening for Paula. She came home with a tool she knew she could use to help her toddler with the transition they would soon be facing.

The next morning Paula sorted through the toys. The ‘family’ of little dolls from Educare would be perfect for this. And here was a plastic dog that would make a great stand-in for Wow Wow. Paula practised in her mind how she would act out the scene, remembering the key points the workshop facilitator had given them.

After breakfast when Matthew was in a quiet mood, Paula sat down on the rug with him and took out the toys.

Granny is going on holiday. She puts her suitcase in the car.

‘Come, Wow Wow” she says. ‘You are going to have a holiday too. You are going to stay with Paula and Matthew.’ 

Granny drives Wow Wow to Paula and Matthew’s house. 

Matthew is so happy. Matthew loves Wow Wow. 

‘Wow Wow can have a holiday with you,’ said Granny.  ‘Bye bye, Matthew. I’m going now.’ 

Matthew and Wow Wow have lots of fun together. They play together. They go for walks in the garden. They cuddle together. At bedtime Matthew sleeps in his bed and Wow Wow sleeps in his special doggie bed.

One day Mummy says, ‘Matthew, it’s one more sleep then Granny is coming back. Granny will come to our house and say, “Hello, Paula. Hello Matthew. I’ve come to fetch Wow Wow to take her home to my house.”‘ 

Matthew and Wow Wow play together.  At bedtime Matthew sleeps in his bed and Wow Wow sleeps in his special doggie bed.

Next day Matthew hears Granny’s car coming.  

Granny gives Matthew a kiss. ‘Hello Matthew.  Thank you for looking after Wow Wow.  Wow Wow and I must go to our home now.’ 

Matthew feels sad.  He loves Wow Wow lots and lots.  He gives Wow Wow a big hug.  

‘Bye bye, Wow Wow,’ says Matthew. 

‘Bye bye Matthew,’ says Granny.  ‘Wow Wow wants you to come visit soon.’ 

Granny and Wow Wow get in the car. Bye bye. They drive away to their house. 

Mummy holds Matthew’s hand. They wave bye bye to Wow Wow. 

 Matthew is sad. Mummy gives him a big cuddle. 

‘ You love Wow Wow lots and lots. We can go to Granny’s house soon so you can play with Wow Wow.’ 

***

Matthew stared at his mother as she told the story.

When she finished, he said, ”gain.’

‘Again?’ Matthew nodded. Paula repeated the story as closely as she could to her original telling. Again Matthew listened intently. Then he toddled over to Wow Wow and lay with his head on the dog’s tummy. He seemed to be processing Paula’s story.

Later in the day Paula repeated the story to Matthew. And the next morning she repeated it again before her mother arrived.

She heard the car’s tyres in the driveway. Matthew looked up. His blue eyes were soft and wet.

‘Wow Wow go Ganny,’ he said.

‘Yes, Wow Wow must go live with Granny now,’ Paula said.

Matthew and Paula watched as Granny and Wow Wow drove off. Paula’s heart was wrenched to see her little boy so sad at losing his special friend. She gave him a cuddle.

‘ You love Wow Wow lots and lots. We can go to Granny’s house soon so you can play with Wow Wow.’

***
Structured Play helps young children to understand because the auditory sense only becomes dominant when children are more than five years old. By using a story approach that is visually engaging and that allows the child to physically handle the props, you can make it easier for your little one to understand a new experience. Here are a few pointers to hep you use this tool when your child is facing a transition or a loss.

* Choose a time when your child is calm and settled to share the story.

* Tell the story in the present tense, as though it’s happening now.

* Use the names of the actual characters this story relates to. (eg Matthew, Wow Wow, Mummy, Granny)

* Keep your sentences very short and simple.

* Use only language your young child understands.

* The younger the child, the shorter the story needs to be.

* Have a suitable toy to represent every significant character in the situation.

* Using the dolls, act out in simple stages the scenario the child will experience.

* Use direct speech, as though the characters are talking.

* Use a different ‘voice’ for each character and add sounds ( eg car engine or sound of    car horn).

* Acknowledge the feelings the child is likely to experience.

* Use simple repetition of phrases.

* Conclude the story with the positive outcome that’s needed.

 

If you’d like Val to run a training session on Play for staff or for parents, email her at val@koemba.com.  For more about Val click here.

Are you:

✔  Wanting to find answers re your child’s challenging behaviour?

✔  Wanting to discover how to create more calm in your home?

✔ Needing tips on how to discipline your child?

 

Discipline Tips - Online Parenting Course

 

We’ve created the Parenting Solution you’ve been waiting for – now you can join the Koemba Parenting Course that you can do in your home in your time – when and where it suits you! The course that is complementary to Val Mullally’s  book: ‘BEHAVE – What To Do When Your Child Won’t’

Here’s your opportunity to join our online parenting programme. Start anytime – and return to the material as often as you wish!

Discover more about the ‘Key Tips on How to Discipline Your Child’ Online Parenting Course that can guide you to creating a  calmer, happier home.

 

What people are saying about the course:

Val’s course is so simple but so effective. I literally started acting differently towards my children immediately. It really made me look at them in a different light – as little beings who are a reflection of how I am feeling in myself. When I changed my own thinking and behaviour, they changed in front of my eyes. I really liked how Val helped me to see that I need to take care if myself so that I can take care of my children better – to put on my own oxygen mask before putting on theirs. I would highly recommend this course. You will gain so much from it, it’s simple to use and follow and you can do the course at home when the kids are in bed.

Maeve Murray, Co. Cork.

You look at the numbers on the weighing scale and groan,

‘How will I ever lose weight!’        You know, and I know, the festive season is hardly good for losing centimetres around your waist, or your rear end, but you are determined to get off to a good start with healthy eating in the New Year.

You may be wondering why I’m writing about weight loss when my work is as a Parenting expert. (I see myself as an expert on helping you to be the expert in  what your family needs to thrive). Last January I was asked to postpone a Parenting workshop.                                  

‘It seems people aren’t ready to get going till February’, the lady from the hosting organisation explained.

But the strange thing I noticed was that from the first week of January the car park was full when the evening slimming programme began. It seems everybody makes it a priority to get down to ideal weight when it’s the first of January. I was discussing this with a friend who responded,                                                      

‘But the best way to ensure that weight loss stays off could be to do something a Parenting course.’                                                                                                                          I raised my eyebrow questioningly.                                                                                    ‘Think about it,’ she said. ‘If things aren’t going well at home, we get stressed. And when we get stressed we comfort eat. And, bang, we’re back where we started, with the kilos piling on.’

Her response makes a lot of sense to me. If you are worried that your child is not coping at school, if you’re worried about bullying issues, if you’re stressed about your child’s behaviour, if you and your child aren’t communicating and are going through a stormy patch – it makes sense these things are stressing you. And there’s an old saying,

‘If Mum be happy we all be happy.’

If you as parent are stressed it tends to increase every family member’s stress, and so we all get caught in a downward spiral that easily skids out of control (weight included!) And if you think about it, our stress is largely related to anxiety; wondering how  we’ll cope. And Anxiety is something we can do something about, if we know how. Anxiety = Powerlessness x Uncertainty’ according to Chip Conley in ‘Emotional Equations’. So imagine if you knew how to increase your sense of Power to create a calmer home. Imagine if you could increase your sense of Certainty of what your children need to thrive. A greater sense of personal Power and a Certainty of what matters and what to do about it = Less Anxiety = Less Stress. And less stress is likely to result is becoming the calmer, happier, slimmer, fitter parent you really want to be.

This is only theory, but if it makes sense to you, why not discover the Koemba coaching approach to Parenting? This is a combination of my experience working with children and parents as a teacher and school principal, what I learnt though having children of my own, combined with Life Coaching skills and practical communication tools and key insights from Relationship theory.  Following on from the success of my ‘BEHAVE!’ Parenting course, my new ‘LISTEN!’ Parenting programme starts in Cork and also in Kilkenny this February. Want to know more? Take two minutes to watch our video clip, on the side panel. 

Sign up now to save €20 with the Early Bird option.

If you’re not lucky enough to be in those geographical regions, keep watching  our posts because we have exciting developments to launch new Parenting resources.

 

 

Contact us if you’d like to join the  Koemba Parenting courses in  Cork, with Parenting author Val Mullally. This six week course focuses on how to effectively connect and communicate, because these are essential skills for all of our relationships, especially to create a calmer, happier home.  CLICK HERE for details.