Full disclosure: I am not currently a parent. I am however, a former childcare director, nanny, child and family therapist (in training) and pre-school teaching assistant. When I began working with children, I took a series of classes that integrated a lot of the Love and Logic techniques. If you haven’t heard of Love and Logic, oh my gosh, it’s life changing. I highly recommend taking a workshop.
To that end, I’m going to outline just a few of the things I’ve picked up over the years as well as my own experience helping children build empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to come up with their own solutions to challenges.
Setting Limits with Love
Children need healthy and consistent boundaries. But how we communicate these to our little humans matters as much as the message. Adults need to remember to respect their child and set limits in a loving, calm, and rational way. This is why you’ll see me using the term “little humans” instead of children. I do this as a way to remind parents and educators that children deserve as much respect and care as adults. When we look at them this way, it makes it easier to judge them less and to exercise compassion at all times.
Here are a few phrases I’ve used over the years:
1. "I can understand why you’re upset right now. I’m happy to have this discussion when your voice is as calm as mine." -when a tantrum ensues
2." It can be hard not getting the toy we want. Sounds like you might need more practice hearing ‘no’ from me." -when a tantrum ensues
3. "You can choose to pick up all the toys now or pick up five toys now and the rest of them after snack time." -when you need to transition from one activity to another
4. "There’s five more minutes of _____ (whichever activity). Kids who clean up quickly get to do more fun stuff. I wonder how much fun stuff you’ll get to do today?" -when you are transitioning from one activity to another
5. "Good news: You get to keep all the toys you pick up. And I get to keep all the toys I pick up." -when a child is refusing to clean up at all
6. "I wonder if we can talk through this. Let’s take a moment to breathe first." -when mom/dad/teacher is noticing their own big emotions and need a moment
7. "Wow. I’m feeling a little frustrated. I’m going to take a moment and count to ten. Can we talk afterwards?" -when mom/dad/teacher is noticing their own big emotions and need a moment
8. "Sad to say the ______ (internet, toy, cell phone) was causing problems so it had to away for now."
9. "I’m sorry for treating you like a little kid and nagging you in the morning. Here’s the checklist of things you need to do each morning. Do you want it on the wall next to your bed or on your door?"
10. "It sounds like you guys are having some challenges communicating. I know and expect you can solve it. Let me know if you need some ideas." -when two children are arguing
If you have more tips you’d like to share, please comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.