A few weeks ago I spent two days at a conference soaking up as much information as I could (with a wiggly, smiley, squealing 6 month old strapped to me) about the brain.
So many “aha” light bulb moments came from the workshops that I attended. Like no matter how mature your child appears to be an 8 year old (or however old your kiddo is) still only has an 8 year old brain (as well as an 8 year old body). There is no way it could be any older. They are only 8!
My biggest takeaway was from a talk about socialization. Not in the signing my kids up for team sports because they are homeschooled sense of socialization but the true psychological definition of socialized.
There are six core strengths of being socialized.
- Self Regulation
- Affiliation (Belonging)
Out of these six strengths attachment is the foundation upon which the other strengths build.
Like any good mom I looked at this list and fretted. Are my children developing well in each of these strengths? It was mentioned that these should all be in place by age 8. half of my children are over that age. Are they doomed!?
Some of you may know that I have a very spirited five year old. She is feisty and ferocious, creative and thunderous. Whatever her mood of the moment might be it will not be a secret. Both joy and anger are big and loud with her.
One of her go to phrases when she is in trouble or feeling like her siblings are leaving her out it “I don’t want to be a part of this family anymore.”
Harsh right? It’s a punch to the gut for me every time she says it.
It also sends a signal to me that this child is experiencing some detachment and possibly some shame.
I am a tool person. I like to have a list of if ___ then ____. So one day while I was writing my morning pages, I started listing some behaviours in my children that tell me they are struggling. Whining, boredom, disrespect, anger/ frustration (usually in the form of tantrums or being unkind to others).
Then I wrote beside them ways to help my kids be resilient and bounce back to peace from these big emotions. Here’s what I discovered in my jotting:
Whining children need attention. Sounds totally counter intuitive doesn’t it? Seems like giving attention to an unpleasant behavior will perpetuate that behavior. Go ahead and address the whining. I do. It crosses my personal boundaries to have a kid who is whining at me. So we practice a better way. We have a do over. (or maybe 3 or 4 do overs). Then we hug and if time permits maybe snuggle up for a story.
Frustrated children need rest. If you’re like me frustration usually means you are at the end of your energy. There is nothing left to give to the cause. This happens to kids too. Taking a break from whatever is going on is a solid fix for a kid (or a mom) who is losing it. In our house this looks like having your head down, soothing touches from a parent andgentle words. We also read a story from a kids meditation book and it has made all the difference in recharging and calming my little one’s mind and body.
Bored children need permission. At first I didn’t really see how giving my children permission to do out of the ordinary or (calculated) risky things was connecting with them. Then I realized that by saying you are allowed to walk by yourself to the store or you are allowed to create with polymer clay, I was telling my kids “I trust you to make good choices.”
This also feeds into strength number two, self regulation. It’s very hard strength to build if you don’t practice and exercise it.
Disrespectful children need respect. Straight from my notes in Marie Sherwood’s class on socialization: A child having a struggle with respect is having trouble respecting themselves.
Again address the behavior. You are teaching by example when you honor your boundaries and how you are willing to be treated by others.
Then respect the crap outta them. Listen intently to what they have to say. Complete focus, no distractions (phone, other children, cooking supper). Respond politely. Let them know what points they have are good, thank your child for sharing with you.
On the sly you can also pour some love into them with praise and kind words. “You are so creative.” “my face can’t help but smile every time I see you.”
I really like to have visual reminders of my tools in my vicinity so I’ve made some cards that I can put on my fridge, mirror, visor in my car…etc. I’d love to share them with you as well. Just click the button below and I will happily email you a file you can print so you can see these reminders all over your spaces as well.
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