● Tone- As your child becomes more upset in behavior, volume, and affect, you need to counter that with a softer tone, lower volume, and calmer demeanor to bring their energy level down and help get them grounded.
● Give 2-3 realistic choices– so they become aware of what makes sense to do and become more independent instead of telling them what to do and when.
● Use quiet time in lieu of a time out or punishment- Allow some quiet time to allow kids to decompress when they are stressed out. Encourage relaxing activities- reading,soft music, breathing, stretching, yoga, coloring, legos etc.
● Sequence of activities-- Let them know that they can proceed to a new activity once they have cleaned up the first activity. If friends are present, have them develop some teamwork to do it together.
● Reward positive behavior–When you see them do what you seek, reward them with a smile, high five, and an observation (out loud) that you noticed how well they did X .
● Tag team moments of struggle- Ask your spouse to help take control when you are being triggered and cannot remain calm during an emotional outburst from one – or both- of your kids. Walk away, breathe slowly and deeply for 5 mins and re-group. This upset is more about you than your child. Ask yourself, “What is making me so upset right now?” Help yourself to calm before re-approaching your child.
● Maintain perspective- Bear in mind, little kids’ dilemmas are small potatoes. Raising children gets more difficult in the later years, as there is more at stake with drugs/alcohol, going to parties, driving, dating, sex, and generally being independent, etc. Put things into perspective that these issues are mostly “small wrinkles” not huge dilemmas.
● Time together- Try to spend 1-2x per week alone with each child doing something special with him or her.
● Keep a Kid Journal- Keep a journal for each child and record one positive action and one challenge that occurred daily. Jot a note each day when you “catch them doing something good” or “see a challenge unfolding.” Discuss these on Sundays alone with that child. Start with the challenge and end with the positive action. The point is to help him/her learn about what you are targeting for appropriate, helpful behavior–not to focus too much on what they are doing poorly. It just gives them basic guidelines for conduct.