Are you exhausted by the constant temper tantrums, screaming and hitting? Tired of power struggles over timeouts? Do you feel like when you parent your children it’s “us against them?” Do family and friends say “You just need more rules/punishments/discipline in your home. You need to regain control!” Do you find yourself wanting to throw up your hands and call in the SuperNanny?
Maybe you think your child needs more discipline. Or are secretly hoping someone will come in and whip your kid into shape, HOLD THAT THOUGHT! If you are using discipline and timeouts to manage your Highly Sensitive Child’s behavior, you will remain in a loop of continuous meltdowns. Which, in turn, will cause relationship damage between you and your kiddo.
SuperNanny to the rescue… NOT
While rewatching SuperNanny, I noticed some things they got wrong about correcting and shaping unwanted or unsafe behavior:
“I don’t care how you feel about it, ‘No means No!’” This says that your child’s emotions and experiences don’t matter. Which leads to them feeling unheard. Kids that feel powerless will meltdown. Whereas kids that feel empowered know they are capable of dealing with big emotions.
“I will take you back to the timeout/naughty/reflection corner as many times as it takes!” This communicates that you agree you are in a power struggle with your child. This creates the ‘us vs. them’ mentality instead of ‘me and you against the problem.’ It also makes the ‘naughty corner’ a scary place when it should be a safe place to calm down.
Focusing on the behaviors you want to stop, without offering an alternative. Parents say “I put you in timeout because you hit your sister/didn’t listen/misbehaved.” DUH! Kids know what they’re NOT supposed to do. It’s more important to say what you’d like them to do instead. Then giving them opportunities to receive praise and encouragement.
Forcing children to apologize for their behavior before they can move on. This says that calming down and stopping the problem behavior was not good enough!
Parents don’t have to apologize for their own mistakes and blow-ups. How can we teach children to correct their mistakes and repair relationships if we are not modeling that behavior for them?
There’s a better way!
Parenting shouldn’t feel like a war between you and your child. When you wake up in the morning and think “when will the battle start today?” When your child starts to escalate, your first thought must not be ‘What punishment will stop this behavior?” If you notice any of these things in your current parenting approach, DON’T DESPAIR!
All parents want the best for their children, to feel safe in their home and feel connected as a family. With these goals in mind and a willingness to make a few parenting changes, you will be successful! And we are here to help! Our next Parents of Highly Sensitive Children Workshop starts on Friday, March 12th. CLICK HERE if you’re ready to take the first step toward playful and connected parenting!
This blog post was written by Sophia Dykstra, LCSW-C.