The power of the simple hug

Meltdowns, tantrums , emotional outbursts ... there’s many names for them but whatever you prefer to refer to them there’s not a parent on this planet with a toddler or young child that hasn’t experienced them is there?!

It’s just part of growing up... emotions are difficult things to get to grips with and it’s a normal part of our children’s development to feel an overwhelming sense of anger or frustration on a regular basis

So how come we often hear these outbursts referred to as naughty? And how come there is a multi million pound industry selling books to help parents “fix” this problem ? When in actual fact it isn’t really isn’t is it... it’s not a problem that needs fixing because it’s normal.

Now don’t get me wrong... I’m not downplaying it. Just because somethings normal doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with! In fact it’s incredibly stressful - especially when our little darlings decide to do it in the middle of a packed out supermarket and we just want a large hole to swallow us up immediately as we abandon our shopping and head hastily to the door with said darling kicking and screaming under our arms.

So is there any wonder parents are buying these books and desperately seeking advice on how they can immediately fix this problem?? And yes a lot of this books are offering immediate fixes! When we see a behaviour as a problem then we start to place blame and often so many parents feel like they’ve done something wrong so they will seek a way to solve this as quickly as they can - and of course if they speak about what’s happening they are pretty much ALWAYS given all sorts of advice.

From sitting them on naughty steps for certain amounts of time , to creating behaviour charts and stickers. The “techniques “ are varied and do they bring great results?! Yes I’m sure in a majority of cases they actually do work but the problem lies far deeper than just fixing this undesirable behaviour ... because fixing a child expressing their emotions by training them to be quiet in exchange for a reward actually in the long term is teaching them these emotions are invalid, their feelings of anger or frustration are not good they’re “naughty” so they must learn to suppress these immediately and be “good”

So as our children grow at what point does it ever become acceptable for them to feel these and express them? Or do we end up with teenagers and young adults still suppressing these emotions and feelings and refusing to talk or open up about their troubles ?

I bet the authors of those parenting books have another book about fixing teenage angst too! (A lot do I’ve checked!)

And really - if we are honest. How many of us have ever seen a desperate parent typing up on an Internet forum asking for advice for their toddlers behaviour and the response has been “trying cuddling them” is pretty much never happens does it??

Sorry what?? Cuddle a child being naughty?

But go on... try it! Because actually we’ve all been there. Whether it’s in that supermarket mortified or at home. And what happens to us when we can feel our child starting to turn? We start to feel the anger and frustration too don’t we? I can think of many of times the anxiety of an impeding tantrum has actually make me shake all over .... so it’s not just our children that need that cuddle. It’s us too.... and it might at first feel really unnatural because maybe for you as an adult you’ve never taken your own anger and dealt with it in this way. Don’t worry! It’s just never been taught to you.. it feels alien. But give it a go...

The next time you feel your child starting to bubble up. Pull them in close. Don’t be afraid about where you are. Bring them heart to heart hold tight and take in some really deep breaths. Smell your little ones hair ... kiss their little forehead or ears and just take a moment.

There’s actually quite a lot of science going on when you do this. Your brain triggers oxytocin when you smell and hold your little one - that’s in your brain AND theirs (amazing eh?!) this blocks cortisol - your stress hormone! , calms you down and makes you feel happy.

And after you’ve had this moment together I promise you it’s so much easier to talk about the situation. Whether your child is upset over a broken toy or something in the shop they can’t have... once you’re both calm and in control the conversation is much easier to discuss and explain in detail

You’ll often find babies that were carried a lot in slings respond to this quicker and faster... my theory is because they’ve had so much experience of this from being little, their brain and body remembers all those early snuggles and the comfort they brought them. But this technique isn’t just for those of you who have used slings... don’t worry if you’ve never carried your child. It’s never too late.

Just be patient it’s a new technique and will take you BOTH a bit of time to grasp.. but I promise it’s worth it. No quick fixes ... in fact no fixing at all! Just love when it’s needed and emotional support and you can both get through the harder days together



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