How to Accept Your Child Without Accepting Negative Behavior

If you're a parent, you will experience it: the screaming child; the insolent teenager; the temper tantrum; the silent treatment, the "look". That cute little girl has just thrown her orange drink across the back seat of your car; that adorable little boy has grown up and insists on slamming the door and cranking up the music when it's time for homework. What do you do? Experts will tell you to look at them and love them anyhow. But face it, in these moments all you want to do is get through it without losing your mind or your temper. It is precisely during these trying tests that the practice of meditation will come to your aid.

One of the benefits of meditation is that you allow time to see things just as they are. During meditation you keep your mind quiet but often images or thoughts will pop up. When that happens, you simply see the image, think the thought, and then let it go. You learn to see it without placing any judgment; see it without trying to resolve it; see it without responding. Once you let it go, you return to your meditation and clear your mind.

How does this help? Ideally, you will practice meditation consistently so that you can increase your brain muscle. Athletes practice daily so that their response to a certain circumstance will be automatic. That free throw or that ballet routine will be executed without thinking. This same concept transfers to meditation and training your brain.

When that highly intense situation surfaces, you will be better equipped to see what is really happening with your child. You learn to be more mindful of your child's moods and triggers. You allow yourself to empathize or sympathize with what they are going through. How you see things will affect what action you decide to take.

That little girl that threw the drink may simply be over-tired; that teenager with the loud music may just need a few minutes after school to blow off some steam before diving into homework.

When you see the situation for what it really is, rather than reacting and creating a more explosive situation, a few things can result. The situation can be contained more quickly because the child doesn't have to defend or argue. Plus, by handling the situation with a bit of perspective rather than reacting in anger, you build trust with your child. They come to know that even when they are behaving badly you will still love them. Also, you are allowing your child to respond to whatever is bothering them.

This doesn't mean that you let your child's moods run your life. Quite the opposite. You can allow your child to express their anger and frustration, just as you would allow them to express their joy and happiness; however, you preserve the relationship and trust so you can teach them what is and is not acceptable behavior.

When my daughter was little, she had what I called "meltdowns". One moment she was laughing and the next she was screaming and crying. It was confusing and frustrating for both of us. After a while, I noticed that she needed to eat something at least every three hours - some carrots, a glass of milk, just something small. Once I figured this out, I kept some sort of snack in my purse. However, this was not enough. It would not have been fair to her if I was the only one aware of this trigger to her mood change. I had to empower her with knowledge so that she could understand what was going on. Also, I let her know that even though it was okay for her to feel the way that she was feeling, it was not okay for her to express those confusing feelings with negative behavior.

The transformation didn't happen overnight, but the breakthrough was incredible to witness. She was having a meltdown. I got down on my knees and looked into her face as she sobbed and told me what was wrong which went something like this: "My shoes are blue and I want them to be black and my pony tail is crooked and the sun isn't shining and..." Then it happened as she continued, "and I'm just hungry and need to eat!"

Breakthrough! From that point forward she was able to recognize that a certain feeling meant that she needed to get something to eat.

I won't kid you, all negative behavior didn't stop - after all she was only about 4 years old; but, there was no more negative behavior that was caused by some sort of low blood sugar.

With the power of meditation, you can train your brain to look closely at what is really happening with your child. Often there is an unrelated reason for negative behavior. You can better connect with your child and then more easily help them with whatever they really need at the moment. Learn more about how you can get your brain in shape, keep your sanity and focus by going to:

Dawn Damico has been called the Research Diva in her professional writing career. She is also the mother of two grown children who continue to amaze her each day!

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