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We are featured in Cincinnati Parent Magazine "Toddlers are Tough"
Thursday, May 3, 2018

When the dog steals a cookie from 2-year-old Ezra, he hits the dog and wails. Toddler life is all trial and error, and on difficult days it feels like mostly error. Toddlers hit, bite, resist and throw fits. How parents respond to this behavior and anticipate these undesirable actions determines the foundation of a child’s emotional intelligence and it will carry them through a lifetime.

 This doesn’t mean parents have to wait until the developmental storm passes. It means parents should create the learning space so the child begins to understand what’s happening. Labeling feelings helps them begin to cope. Take Ezra and his cookie-stealing dog. Ezra’s parent should tell him, “You’re mad so you hit the dog.” James says, “You don’t say it in a way that’s derogatory or judgmental but you’re very clear about the action.” You’re labeling the emotion and connecting it to the action. The next step is to correct the behavior by saying, “We don’t hit.” James is quick to stress, “Be careful that it’s NOT something you do in the house because that can be confusing.”  


The message has to be consistent and clear. “A parent can’t hit their child and then say we don’t hit,” she explains. The same goes for yelling or any other undesirable behavior.  


James cautions to keep expectations realistic. She says, “In that moment, you may not be able to get the child’s attention beyond stopping the behavior.” In the moment, you’re protecting them and you’re protecting the other person (or dog) while you help them label what is happening. “You’re angry, that’s why you hit, we do not hit in this house.”  


April Kandil, LPCC-S, Director of Campus Based Programs for The Children’s Home of Cincinnati says, “It’s important to understand how much these foundations are helping develop a child’s emotional intelligence.” We talk about emotional intelligence as adults and Kandil says, “It’s not that it doesn’t exist in a child, it’s just often stifled during those early years or not validated.”

Read the full article in Cincinnati Family Magazine...



 
 
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