Training yourself to respond to your child rather than to react to your child has to come first. Dr. Dan Hughes uses a system called PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy). Understanding these and having them become your lifestyle will calm your child down pretty quickly and can prevent future fits. Playing with your child needs to be scheduled each day. If you have more than one child, be sure to rotate the order each day, so everyone gets a chance to go first. Write it out on a calendar and stick to. Never remove or threaten to remove playtime. Include your child in all that you do (when you are not at work) and your child will feel important. Accept where your child is at. If the child is happy, sad, angry, or anxious, accept this as s/he is. Accept yourself as well where you are at. This can bring you an internal peace when you realize you cannot control the emotions. Don’t let your emotions dictate how you will respond. Stay calm (see coping skills in counseling section). Allow your child to be curious as s/he explores his/her world. Be interested in what she is interested. Ask questions. Understanding what your child is asking for can solve many problems. Do not withhold what the child is asking for if it is reasonable, simply because you are angry or have power/control problems. Empathy is the most powerful tool you can use to help calm your child down and to connect with your child. How you respond can make the difference between things getting worse or better. For example, if your child is yelling and angry, becoming all energized (without getting angry) and proclaiming, “Wow, you are angry, you think this is unfair! I’m so sorry that you think it’s unfair, but it’s time to go.” When children know that you get it, even when you are setting a boundary, they feel listened to and they usually calm down. Empathy will help you to get rid of rewards and punishments and to meet children’s needs. Getting rid of time-outs is quite helpful as well.
Diet Plays a Crucial Role in Your Child’s Behavior
All physical and mental illnesses, and behavior problems are preventable, and most are curable, using the right foods. Brain development is controlled not only by good parenting, but by diet. The brain is made up of elements and it needs to be nourished with the right food. When the brain does not receive the right foods, it cannot function properly. Bad food causes the brain to malfunction, sooner or later. If you are dealing with a wild child, chances are very high that food is playing a big role in the wildness. There is one book I recommend to buy. It is called Nourishing Traditions (see resource section). The golden food rule is this: If it did not exist in this form and preparation 500 years ago, don’t eat it. Anything with sugar or processed grains can cause major behavioral problems in children and adults as the adrenal system struggles to process these unnatural things. Most foods which come in cans, boxes, tubs, and jars should not be eaten and are highly difficult to digest, sucking nutrients out of the body. Instead, choosing fresh or lightly cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, sprouts, nuts, and seeds, sprouted grain products, cold-water fish, grass-fed animal meats and eggs, and fresh raw milk, yogurt, and cheese from grass-fed cows, goats, or ewes, can transform the brain and body to be healthy and balanced. Avoid almost all soy products as these interfere with metabolism. See resources section for Nourishing Traditions. Also, breastfeeding does amazingly great things for brain development and for calming a child quickly. Keep it up for as long as your child asks to nurse, the more years, the better for both your child and you!
Spirituality can Play a Role in Behavior
Yes, I’ve heard many a parent say “I think my child’s possessed!” They simply have tried many things to no avail. There is some truth in this. Not quite like the movie ‘The Exorcist’, but certainly along the lines of spiritual influence disturbing their child. Praying with your child can help as you seek God’s healing. Praying over your child, which means you put both of your hands on the child while praying, can bring peace to the child and you. Begin by putting a small cross on your child’s forehead and then put both hands on his/her shoulders or head, or you can hold her hands. Here is an example of a prayer you could use. Feel free to adjust the words to fit your situation.
“God/Father/Jesus we come before you and we praise your name for you are Holy. You are the God that heals. We ask for healing this day for the difficulty of anger and getting into fights (name the difficulty). We bind up the spirits of anger and fighting (name the basic difficulty) and we send it you Lord Jesus to deal with as You will. We ask You to send the power of your Holy Spirit down upon Sue and fill her with peace and gentleness (the opposite of the difficulty) now, in accordance with your Holy Will. Bring her peace in mind, body, and spirit. Heal the pathways of her brain, Lord. We ask all this in Jesus’ Holy Name. Amen” There are books by MacNutt and Lorenzo I recommend to help assist you in learning how to pray for healing and deliverance in this way. See resource section.