The Roots of Childhood Aggression, and How to Handle Them With Compassion, by Alicia Lord

Why do aggressive behaviors occur? Like all other behaviors, aggression is a means to an end. A child is engaging in verbal or physical aggression because it is benefiting them in some way. They may be fulfilling a need or desire, attempting to self-protect, or attempting to get contact and connection. There are a variety of internal and external experiences that may precede the actual behaviors.

Aggression as protection

Aggression plays the role of evolutionary protector. When the body perceives danger, it has three options: fight, flight, or freeze. The fight instinct results in aggression. An important piece to note here is the word perceives. In addition to the basic instincts of the human body, each person has their own set of cues and triggers to indicate danger based on past experiences. This means that someone can perceive they are in danger in a situation where danger is not obvious to others.

Some triggers may be noticeable and easy to conceptualize, while others may be more difficult – or even impossible. If a child experiences a car accident and then subsequently throws a tantrum each time he is forced to get into the car, it will likely be easy for adults to understand why the tantrum is happening.

Some triggers, however, are not so simple. You may never be able to deduce what conditioned them to exist. Some children, especially those who have experienced interpersonal trauma, perceive a threat in a specific tone of voice, or very subtle body language. Regardless of the specifics, what is important with this type of aggression is to understand that it comes from a place of life-threatening fear.

(To read more of this post, please follow the link below…)

http://www.parent.co/roots-childhood-aggression-handle-compassion/?utm_source=newsletter_235&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pcodaily&utm_source=Parent+Co.+Daily&utm_campaign=a726aea331-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_03_03&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3f341b94dd-a726aea331-132097649

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn’t listening, by Emma Young

In Iceland, teenage smoking, drinking and drug use have been radically cut in the past 20 years. Emma Young finds out how they did it, and why other countries won’t follow suit.

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It’s a little before three on a sunny Friday afternoon and Laugardalur Park, near central Reykjavik, looks practically deserted. There’s an occasional adult with a pushchair, but the park’s surrounded by apartment blocks and houses, and school’s out – so where are all the kids?

Walking with me are Gudberg Jónsson, a local psychologist, and Harvey Milkman, an American psychology professor who teaches for part of the year at Reykjavik University. Twenty years ago, says Gudberg, Icelandic teens were among the heaviest-drinking youths in Europe. “You couldn’t walk the streets in downtown Reykjavik on a Friday night because it felt unsafe,” adds Milkman. “There were hordes of teenagers getting in-your-face drunk.”

We approach a large building. “And here we have the indoor skating,” says Gudberg.

A couple of minutes ago, we passed two halls dedicated to badminton and ping pong. Here in the park, there’s also an athletics track, a geothermally heated swimming pool and – at last – some visible kids, excitedly playing football on an artificial pitch.

Young people aren’t hanging out in the park right now, Gudberg explains, because they’re in after-school classes in these facilities, or in clubs for music, dance or art. Or they might be on outings with their parents.

Today, Iceland tops the European table for the cleanest-living teens. The percentage of 15- and 16-year-olds who had been drunk in the previous month plummeted from 42 per cent in 1998 to 5 per cent in 2016. The percentage who have ever used cannabis is down from 17 per cent to 7 per cent. Those smoking cigarettes every day fell from 23 per cent to just 3 per cent.

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The way the country has achieved this turnaround has been both radical and evidence-based, but it has relied a lot on what might be termed enforced common sense. “This is the most remarkably intense and profound study of stress in the lives of teenagers that I have ever seen,” says Milkman. “I’m just so impressed by how well it is working.”

If it was adopted in other countries, Milkman argues, the Icelandic model could benefit the general psychological and physical wellbeing of millions of  kids, not to mention the coffers of healthcare agencies and broader society. It’s a big if.

“I was in the eye of the storm of the drug revolution,” Milkman explains over tea in his apartment in Reykjavik. In the early 1970s, when he was doing an internship at the Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York City, “LSD was already in, and a lot of people were smoking marijuana. And there was a lot of interest in why people took certain drugs.”

Milkman’s doctoral dissertation concluded that people would choose either heroin or amphetamines depending on how they liked to deal with stress. Heroin users wanted to numb themselves; amphetamine users wanted to actively confront it. After this work was published, he was among a group of researchers drafted by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse to answer questions such as: why do people start using drugs? Why do they continue? When do they reach a threshold to abuse? When do they stop? And when do they relapse?

“Any college kid could say: why do they start? Well, there’s availability, they’re risk-takers, alienation, maybe some depression,” he says. “But why do they continue? So I got to the question about the threshold for abuse and the lights went on – that’s when I had my version of the ‘aha’ experience: they could be on the threshold for abuse before they even took the drug, because it was their style of coping that they were abusing.”

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

https://mosaicscience.com/story/iceland-prevent-teen-substance-abuse?utm_source=Parent+Co.+Daily&utm_campaign=79720c9e11-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_18&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3f341b94dd-79720c9e11-132097649

Growing up Maori in NZ: My daily experience of racism at school, playing rugby, at University and at the shops, by an anonymous 18 year old young man

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I was 9 and it was the middle of religious education at our state primary school when a lady told our class that God didn’t love the Tuhoe people because they were terrorists. I still remember that day because I wanted to cry I was so angry. I knew she was lying. So I walked out of her class and went to the office and told them I wasn’t going to go to religious education anymore. The teachers rang my mum and she came in and told them that neither me nor my brother were ever going back to religious education.

Sometimes kids would say racist things and I used to try to ignore them a lot. I played rugby for our town and there were some boys in my team who’d call us racist names. One day at training a boy called me a dumb N***** and I had enough and ran at him and punched him.

Well I got in huge trouble. The coach had heard it all but told me it was all my fault for reacting and I need to just ignore it, as usual he never told off the boys who said racist things. I walked off and was crying. My Dad came out onto the field and told off my coach. My coach kept trying to blame me but my Dad told him he was useless and shouldn’t let the other boys abuse us and then expect us to take it.

It was around this time me and my cousin used to be picked on by a group of boys at our school. They’d say racist things about us and we refused to take it, we fought back. Teachers didn’t really do much, we were told to ignore it but it’s hard to ignore someone giving you a hiding. At lunch they’d just chase us and fight us, sometimes 10 to 2 so it was never a fair fight.

One day my cousin left some 4 x 2s in the bushes. He never told me what he’d done but that day at lunch when they were all chasing us he shouted at me to follow him to the bushes. We ran out of the bushes with these pieces of wood and all the boys who’d been about to bash us started screaming and running away. They were very fast and we didn’t even hit any of them. We ended up in the principal’s office and we were the ones in big trouble not the boys who’d been bullying us for ages.

My Dad came in and he argued with the principal and told him that if the school couldn’t guarantee our safety then our family would send in people to the school to make sure we were safe. He meant it and so from then on the school made sure the bullying ended. I left soon after to go to another school anyway and I remember being terrified as I was going to a much bigger school and assumed the bullying was going to be way worse. But when I got there the culture of the school was great and there was no bullying like what we had gone through.

When I started college I didn’t know why but I kept getting put into woodwork and metalwork option courses that I’d never signed up for. I had won an academic scholarship in Year 9 and ended up getting excellence in NCEA 1, 2 and 3, but for a while someone there decided I needed to do a trade. There is nothing wrong with tradie work, I actually love it – that’s what I do during the holidays – but it’s unfair to look at me and decide: Oh yeah OK, that brown kid he can do woodwork even though he asked to do Financial Management.

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After I got excellence in Year 11, me and a mate got an invite to start going to meetings for excellence students. Well we turned up and the lady asked us what we were doing there because this was a meeting for excellence students. A lot of the Pakeha kids who were there started giggling at us. I can’t remember what we said to her but she never really welcomed us into her meetings. I’ve got to admit we paid no attention in her meetings. A few more times when we’d turn up she’d look at us and ask if we were in the right place. She never remembered our names. We were the only Maori and Pasifika boys there.

Over the years I’d get used to having to defend everything Maori, during class discussions other kids would argue that the Treaty is racist or that Maori scholarships are racist.

Once I got up to say that my scholarship came from my tribe not from the Government and someone shouted out “Hone Harawira” from the back of the class. Being a Maori kid in a mostly Pakeha world, yeah. You’re often put on the spot whether you like it or not. One minute you’re defending your tribe in class. Next minute you get told to lead the haka or speak at a powhiri for the school.

(To read more, please follow the link below…)

http://www.thatsus.co.nz/my-daily-experience-of-racism

How to Get Kids to Listen To You and Do What They Are Asked To, by Cally Worden

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Can you imagine how simple life would be if your children just did what you asked of them, when you asked it?

Better yet, what if they would do things they are supposed to even before you had to ask them?

No argument.

No battle-of-wills.

Wouldn’t it be nice?

Before I discovered the joys of positive parenting I wouldn’t have believed this was even possible.

Back then, I couldn’t even figure out how to get kids to listen to me, let alone get them to do what they were asked. Even simple requests for a specific action or a change of behavior from my kids could oh-so-easily escalate into monster power struggles.

And frankly, it was wearing me out.

Here are just four of many simple requests I can recall that got totally out of control – I’m sure they will sound familiar in various ways:

Me: Can you please bring your cup through to the kitchen?
My Daughter: In a minute Mom … (and she is lost in the TV program again)

Me:  Kicking your sister is not okay
(Cue defiant stare and a sneaky swift kick to his sister’s ankle.)

Me: Time to clean up kids, could you please clear the coloring things away?
My Daughter: Why should I? They’re not all mine!

Me: We don’t play with the knobs on the cooker, it’s dangerous
(30 seconds later little fingers have fiddled again.)

Each time, my hackles rose, my inner power-switch flipped to ‘On’. I’m in charge here right? I would assert my authority (via a raised voice, angry stare, threats of time out, and so on).

And I would eventually ‘win’.

But when we were done and the tears had dried, I would feel wretched inside. And my weary brain would crave relief and I would wonder – Is it bedtime yet?

It was a hollow victory.

My kids were sad. I was sad.

Sure, they jangle my nerves sometimes, but most of the time, they are fun, loving and amazing kids. I didn’t want to spend their entire childhood looking forward to bedtime. I wanted to spend time with them and enjoy it.

So I got to thinking – is there some other way to get them to listen to me and do as they are asked without all this stress and drama?

Thankfully, there is. And it works too.

Armed with my action plan, scenarios like these not only arise less often but when they do, they are quickly and quietly diffused into a peaceful mist of calm. Well, more often than not. We don’t always hit the target (hey, I’m human too) but our home has been transformed by this fresh approach.

To be the peaceful, positive parent you’ve
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Below, I’ve put together a list of what works for us. Take a look and see what you think. And throughout, remember that you don’t need to raise your voice and gear up for a fight to get your kids to listen to you. You don’t want to be an opponent. What your kids need is an ally. A calming presence. Assume that role in your head, and you will be ready to address their need.

Here we go –

1: Employ Empathy

Stepping into your child’s shoes may feel like the very last thing you want to do when your own personal focus is on your desire to arrest a behavior, or to get something done.

But step back from that a moment and think about it.

You are focusing on your agenda — the desire to get what you want, to the exclusion of what’s important to your child in that moment.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/positive-parenting-faq/how-to-get-kids-to-listen.html

3 Mistakes Parents Make During a Meltdown, by Dr. Shefali

 

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Meltdowns are tough. Tantrums are treacherous.

They are downright life-sucking. They sneak on you without notice and they stay like the plague.

Once they arrive, there is no switch to turn them off. It’s like the aliens have descended and abducted your child’s brain. One moment your toddler, pre teen or teen is the sweetest thing, all cuddly in your arms and whoa, what happened – what did you miss? – you blinked and the torrents descended. Your child transforms from human to monster, from sweetness to absolute wickedness. Arms flailing, tears pouring, voice shrieking – should I say more???

Every parent just wants to know one thing: “how can I get my kid to stop?”

In our confusion, we say the wrong things to our children. Without realizing we worsen the situation, instead of mitigating it. In all my years as a parent and clinical psychologist, these are the three common phrases parents say that not only exacerbates the tantrum but also creates a disconnect between parent and child.

MISTAKE #1: “Use Your Words”

New-age parents especially, think that they are being highly evolved when they tell their kids to use their words. This is the absolute wrong thing to tell a kid who is in the middle of a brain freeze and emotional flood. The last thing they can do at these moments is use their literacy skills. This is especially true for kids under the age of 6. When we tell them to use their words, we frustrate them to no end because this is not the mental state they are naturally in. They feel controlled by us even more and this causes them to kick and scream even louder.

WHAT TO DO INSTEAD: As your kid is overwhelmed by their big feelings, it is crucial that we enter their presence with a state of detached, yet calm, energy. We need to show them that we are there for them, without controlling them or domineering over them. Like a tall mountain, we need to show them that we can withstand their torrential thunders and their gusty winds. The most important thing we can do is move toward them with stillness, calmness and full-on presence, and try to hold them close to us if they let us. When they see us relate to them with great empathy in our eyes, they will naturally absorb our strong, yet silent, caring and slowly begin to find their way out of the dungeon themselves. The moment they sense us controlling them, however, the quicker they will resist and pump their tantrum with more gusto.

MISTAKE #2: “What’s wrong? What happened? Why are you acting this way?”

Again, in an attempt to connect to our kids, we try to use questions to get to our kids’ heart. We want to show them that we care and are concerned about their well-being. In our desire to come across as loving, we ask them a thousand questions, probing, inquisitive and curious. We think this is going to help our kids open up. What this does instead is cause them to clam up even more. When our kids’ are showing their upset through their screams, tears and body-language, it’s as if they are shouting at us, “Can’t you see that I am mad/sad/hurt/betrayed/guilty/scared??? WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME TO SAY WHY AND HOW??? Can’t you just be here with me and allow me to express my pain?”

(To read more of this article, please click HERE)

All you need is Love Bombing, by Oliver James, psychologist

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In March 2010 I received an email from Miranda. She wrote that her son Tim, nine, “seems to not like himself and has no focus. He says he hates himself and that he’s rubbish at everything”. A bright boy, Tim refused to do his homework and was prone to temper tantrums.

The solution I proposed was love bombing, a method I developed to reset the emotional thermostats of children aged three to puberty. It entails spending a period of time alone with your child, offering them unlimited love and control. It works for a wide variety of common problems, severe or mild; from defiant – even violent – aggression to shyness, sleeping problems or underperformance at school.

This is not the same as “quality time” – just hanging out with your child. When you love bomb, you create a special emotional zone wholly different from normal life, with new rules. More than 100 families have tried it, nearly all with positive results.

So, how exactly does it work? First, you explain to your child that, sometime soon, the two of you are going to spend time together, one to one, and have a lot of fun. Your child is going to decide what they want and when they want it, within reason. You give the message that this is going to be a Big Event: It’s Coming Soon … How Exciting! The child then draws up a list of things to do. It doesn’t matter if it includes lots of SpongeBob SquarePants: the key is that your child has chosen it.

Throughout the experience, you are trying, as much as possible, to give them the feeling of “whatever I want, I get” – of being in control and of being gratified, as well as bombed with love.

You may be thinking: Is he mad? My child is a tyrant – rewarding him like that is just going to make it even worse! This is understandable. Love bombing seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, which often recommends more control, not less, when a child is not complying, and stricter, firmer reactions to undesirable behaviour.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/sep/22/oliver-james-love-bombing-children

Why it’s good to have a strong-willed child, and why you should let up on them, by Lauren Knight

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“I will not cut my hair. Never. The answer is never, Mom, and the answer will always be never, so you should just stop asking me.” He said it without attitude, in a matter-of-fact way, as though he were simply reporting on the weather or time of day. At 6 years old, my second-born son, Oliver, has nearly perfected the delivery of undesirable news to others, news that he knows the recipient would rather not hear. He is used to going against the grain by now. Since he was 3 years old, he has dug in his heels about anything and everything. The smallest things strike him as unacceptable: the wrong pair of pants, the wrong dinner, the way his shoes feel or the way he is tucked in at night. He is a child of high standards, and if he disagrees with something, he makes it known.

It’s not that Oliver is a difficult child; he is actually an absolute delight. He is sweet and generous, helpful with his little brother (with all younger children, for that matter). He notices beautiful colors in the flower gardens on our street or the leaves changing in the fall. He delights in the small things and is grateful and polite to others, he is creative and bright. But when he disagrees, he is the most headstrong, stubborn person I have ever come across. He does not comply to be obedient, he complies when he feels it is the right thing to do or it makes sense to him. That can make it difficult to parent him, at times.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2015/11/09/why-its-good-to-have-a-strong-willed-child-and-why-you-should-let-up-on-them/?postshare=6231447501912791&tid=ss_fb-bottom

 

Stop Calling Children Nasty Names, by Amanda, Children’s Mental Health Counselor, from her blog “Dirt and Boogers”

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The other day I was at a baby shower for a friend of mine.  A guest shows up late and loudly exclaims

“I’m sorry I’m late, but my kids were being such assholes!”

She laughs and continues on about how her children just feel the need to be “needy little bastards”.  As she’s saying this she’s laughing and encouraging the other women in the group to agree with her.

I’m standing there, with a fake smile on my face, trying not to seem shocked.

You see, I have a very hard time when parents speak so negatively about their kids.

Our Thoughts Become Our Actions

Throughout my time working as a therapist, I’ve learned how powerful our thoughts are.  When we attach negative thoughts to things, we will treat those things worse than if we think positively about them.  This is true for ourselves, our husbands, and our kids.

If we think that our kids are assholes and bastards, we will treat them as such.  We will not have as much patience, we will not be as kind, and the relationship can easily be strained because of it.

Even though I know this Mom is struggling, I can’t help but think that if she was able to change her thought patterns that she might have an easier time with her children.

Like this…

“My child is not giving me a hard time.  My child is having a hard time.”

It’s About Respect

For me, I try very hard to respect the people in my life. This means that I speak about them in a respectful manner.

Calling anyone in my family an asshole or bastard to someone else is not respectful at all. If I wouldn’t say those things with them standing in front of me, than I won’t say it to a group of people.

The last thing I want is for people to have negative impressions of my kids before they even meet them.

If I go around calling them names and telling everyone about how horrible they are, I’m setting them up to be disliked before they even have a chance.

(To read more of this article, follow the link below…)

http://dirtandboogers.com/watch-what-you-say-about-kids/?utm_source=letslassothemoon.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_module

How to raise an overactive child The joys and challenges of raising a kid who is more intense, more energetic and more persistent than average, by Lisa Bendall

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When Jennifer Weiss of Airdrie, Alta., put a dish of parsnips on the family dinner table for the first time, eight-year-old Mackenzie went from calmly chatting to a total meltdown. “He was adamant, arms crossed, tears rolling down his face,” Weiss says. Mackenzie’s mood swings, she says, are typically intense: “from happy as can be to a pile on the floor — screaming that life is unfair and we hate him — in seconds.”

Like 10 percent of all children, Mackenzie, a sweet, loving boy, is what is known as a “spirited child.” These are the kids we refer to as “challenging,” “strong-willed” or worse — traditionally they’ve been slapped with labels like “difficult” or “problem child.” Spirited children may be more intense, more persistent and more energetic than average. “These kids live life bigger and bolder than other kids,” says Michael Popkin, author of Taming the Spirited Child. This can mean they’re enthusiastic and determined. But when they’re little, this temperament often translates into behaviour that’s frustrating for parents — for example, a baby who screams when you don’t hold him, a toddler who never sits still, or a preschooler who falls to pieces because her sandwich was cut into triangles instead of diamonds.

“It’s natural for a parent to wonder: ‘Did I do something to make him act that way?’ But parents need to know it’s not their fault that their child is spirited,” says Sara King, a child psychologist at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax. “It’s just the way that genetics and environment mix up in that particular child.”

Parents of spirited kids can learn how to manage this temperament. And as your child gets more independent, he’ll start doing these tricks to help himself. “Right now it’s driving you crazy,” says Popkin. “But if that child learns to use those traits constructively, they’ll be real assets for the child in the future.”

Energy

Spirited kids seem to have extra batteries. They’re hands-on involved with what’s going on around them. When my spirited daughter was younger, it was a Herculean effort to get her to sit for long at the dinner table, and even as she tried to settle in bed, her legs kept moving.

Why it’s a good thing This is a child who’s brimming with energy, is curious about the world and may be driven to excel in sports.

What to do “I’m a great believer in letting your kids play outside in the backyard,” says King. “Let them go to a space where it’s OK to be running around and burning off that energy.” Make sure it’s safe. You can also enrol your child in soccer, karate or hockey, providing him with a positive outlet for his high activity level.

Of course, there are times when even busy children are going to have to sit still. Calgary parent educator Celia Osenton says it helps to give your kid frequent breaks to move about. “Do things in small blocks,” she says. Suggest that the teacher give your child excuses to be mobile, picking him to hand out papers or collect the crayons. At the supper table, he can be the designated gofer if someone wants more milk or needs something from the kitchen.

What not to do Don’t set your child up for failure. If you know his energy is off the charts, don’t expect him to sit through a four-hour car trip without frequent stops, or walk sedately by your side in the grocery store. It just ain’t gonna happen.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.todaysparent.com/kids/preschool/how-to-raise-an-overactive-child/

How to Be a Positive Parent Even if You Weren’t Raised by One, by Amy Greene

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Do you ever feel doomed to being just like your parents, even though you’re trying hard to do better?

I know how hard it is to try being a positive parent when you’ve been raised in a punitive home.

Like me, you may have grown up in a home where spanking, hitting, yelling, or shaming were the main “discipline techniques.” And now maybe you’re horrified to find yourself resorting to these techniques, too.

I lay SweetPea down on the floor to change her diaper. Immediately she twists her hips to flip over so she can crawl away. Clenching my jaw, I flip her on her back again and try to distract her with singing, but she is intent on reaching her activity center. Unbidden, the image of my hand slapping the soft, tender flesh of her thigh flashes through my mind.  I take a deep breath. I acknowledge my own frustration. I decide she and I both need a break from the struggle. “We’ll try again in a few minutes,” I say as I let her go and she happily crawls away.

My impulse to lash out comes naturally to me; I absorbed it from my parents.  I’ve spent the last 15 years as a teacher and nanny learning how to react differently and overcome these unbidden impulses so that I don’t pass them on to my daughter.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to take you 15 years to start becoming a more positive parent! I’ll share with you how I healed from childhood wounds and techniques you can use now to re-write your parenting scripts.

Choosing a Better Way

Re-creating the same negativity is not our destiny; we can choose a better way to raise our own kids.

The question, of course, is how?

Despite our best intentions, the things our parents said to us often become the same dreaded words we say to our kids.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://afineparent.com/be-positive/what-is-positive-parenting.html