What a temper! Your child, normally so sunny and the world’s sweetest kid, goes from zero to 100 and transforms into an out-of-control gremlin. What is actually going on? Usually your child radiates joy, calmness and wellbeing; but when frustrated, emotions run rampant.
Your child may have a volatile temperament. Does the textbook hit the wall if homework isn’t going well? Or does s/he have trouble concentrating and you receive notices from the teacher that your child is disruptive and doesn’t give others their turn?
Or is your child painfully shy and withdrawn?
A child who reacts strongly, is short-tempered or is withdrawn easily makes parents second-guess themselves as child raisers: “Am I doing something wrong?”
You may also wonder if your child will ever learn to control himself or overcome his fears.
I myself have occasionally been stumped in the face of the challenges of childrearing. That’s why I decided to meet with experts, classroom teachers who are also Ph.D. candidates, and an educational psychologist who conducts brain research.
I got a reassuring response: no need to panic. Extreme reactions are a normal part of a child’s development. A volatile or withdrawn child is just learning about controlling his/her feelings and temperament. Recent studies and classroom research demonstrate that hidden behind shy, impulsive, withdrawn or short-tempered dispositions is a set of character strengths that can be drawn out.
I spent a day in special education teacher Kaisa Vuorinen’s classroom, and I saw with my own eyes how recognition of the students’ strengths works beautifully. Based on positive psychology, Vuorinen’s method of teaching her students is a fine example of how with positive reinforcement, one can get a child to blossom.
Mistakes were not in the least sought out in her classroom; instead, every student received praise for their strengths all day long.
Educational psychologists point out that every child, even calm, even-tempered children, benefit from recognition of their own character strengths.
This is because children who know their strengths are able to harness them to their advantage. They learn better and achieve positive results in life.
The good news is that it is possible for every parent to help their child to recognize and develop his/her own character strengths.
The method Kaisa Vuorinen uses can well be put into practice in your own daily interactions with your child.
Would you like to take a closer look at these methods of helping to develop your child’s character strengths? Order the first chapter of my guidebook, free of charge!
The world is changing rapidly. What will the world be like when our children are adults? What kinds of skills will they need to succeed? No one really knows for certain.
Often we just hope that our children will become balanced, happy adults and that they will find their own path and passions.
Educators are more and more convinced that learning is strongly connected to character and growth. That’s why success in school requires more than just cramming for tests.
Learning calls for skills such as motivation, curiosity, self-regulation (self-control), perseverance, courage, and compassion.
Many learning researchers believe that certain character strengths, such as perseverance and self-regulation, are skills that predict success in school even better than IQ.
Fortunately, perseverance, self-regulation, compassion, and courage are all skills that you can help your child to improve.
I also interviewed neuropsychologist Nina Sajaniemi because I wanted to know more about positive psychology and the impact of positivity on child brain development. She told me about how a positive attitude in childrearing develops a child’s brain in a healthy way.
The researcher’s view on temper tantrums was a little surprising.
Sajaniemi said that she considered a child’s tantrums and out-of-control behavior to be the best possible moments for teaching important life skills.
Nina Sajaniemi described situations where a toddler has a meltdown in line at the store when he doesn’t get the candy bar he wanted or when a teenager shouts and slams doors.
Feelings of powerlessness and frustration in these situations are very familiar to parents.
So, what should you do?
Tantrums and out-of-control behavior are actually a normal part of development for most children and youth.
In these situations, it is still important for the parent to act correctly.
As shown by research, many traditional methods of childrearing have turned out to be harmful. Often, they just reinforce the child or youth’s impulses and out-of-control behavior.
The most recent brain research can tell us what is happening. What happens in a child’s brain during a tantrum? How can recklessness be contained and gradually tamed altogether?
The neuropsychologist provides clear and practical instructions on how to act in a constructive way in these situations.
I have put together practical advice and exercises for parents about how to help their child to strengthen his/her character and deal with his/her feelings.
Oftentimes, improved child rearing only requires a change of perspective and a little practice, so that it will turn into a habit.
With the help of practical exercises developed by researchers and teachers, wonders can happen at home!