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Many parents send an angry child to her room to "calm down." After all, what else can we do? We certainly can't reason with her when she's furious. It's no time to teach lessons or ask for an apology. She needs to calm down.


If we send our angry child to his room, he will indeed calm down, eventually. He'll also have gotten some clear messages:

  • No one is listening to what's upsetting you.
  • No one is going to help you solve the problem you're experiencing.
  • Anger is bad.
  • You're being bad because you feel angry at us.
  • Your anger scares us.
  • You're on your own when it comes to managing those big scary feelings in a responsible way, we don't know how to help you.
  • When you're angry, the best thing to do is to stuff those feelings. (Of course, that means they're no longer under your conscious control, and will burst out again soon in unmanageable ways.)

No wonder so many of us develop anger-management issues that last into adulthood, whether that means we yell at our kids, throw tantrums with our partner, or overeat to avoid acknowledging our anger.

What can we do instead? We can help our children learn to manage their anger responsibly. Most of us have a hard time picturing what that looks like. Quite simply, responsible anger management begins with accepting our anger, but refraining from acting on it by lashing out at others. There's always a way to express what we need without attacking the other person.

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In fact, when we're willing to stop and notice the deeper feelings of our anger, we find hurt and fear and sadness. If we allow ourselves to feel those emotions, the anger melts away. It was only a reactive defense.

This is one of the most critical tasks of childhood—learning to tolerate the wounds of everyday life without moving into reactive anger. People who can do this are able to work things out with others and manage themselves to achieve their goals. We call them emotionally intelligent.

Children develop emotional intelligence when we teach them that all their feelings are okay, but they always have a choice about how they act. Here's how to do that.

When your child gets angry:

1. Keep yourself from moving into "fight or flight" by taking a few deep breaths and reminding yourself that there's no emergency. This models emotional regulation and helps your child feel safer, so she begins to shift out of "fight or flight."

2. Listen. Acknowledge why your child is upset. Often, when people don't feel heard, they escalate. By contrast, when your child feels understood, he'll begin to feel calmer, even when he doesn't get his way.

3. Try to see it from his point of view. The more compassionate you can be, the more likely your child will find his way to the tears and fears under the anger: "Oh, Sweetie, I'm sorry this is so hard...You're saying I never understand you...that must feel so terrible and lonely." You don't have to agree, and you don't have to disagree. Just acknowledge his truth in the moment. Once he feels heard, his truth will shift.

4. Don't get hooked by rudeness and personal attacks. Parents are often hurt when children yell at them. But your child doesn't actually hate you or want a new mom or dad, or whatever she's yelling. She feels hurt and scared and powerless, so she's pulling out the most upsetting thing she can think of, so you'll know how upset she is. Just say "Ouch! You must be so upset to say that to me. Tell me why you're upset. I'm listening."

Your child is not "behaving badly" or "winning." She's showing you in the best way she can at the moment just how upset she is. As she realizes that she doesn't have to raise her voice or go on the attack to be heard and that it's safe to show you her vulnerable emotions, she'll develop the capacity to express her feelings more appropriately.

5. Set whatever limits are necessary to keep everyone safe while acknowledging the anger and staying compassionate. "You're so mad! You can be as mad as you want, and hitting is still not ok, no matter how upset you are. You can stomp to show me how mad you are. No hitting."

6. If your child is already in a full meltdown, don't talk except to empathize and reassure her that she's safe. Don't try to teach, reason or explain. When she's awash in adrenaline and other fight or flight reactions is not the time to explain why she can't have what she wants or get her to admit that she actually loves her little sister. Your only job now is to calm the storm. Just acknowledge how upset she is: "You are so upset about this...I'm sorry it's so hard."

7. Remind yourself that tantrums are nature's way of helping immature brains let off steam. Children don't yet have the frontal cortex neural pathways to control themselves as we do. (And please note that we don't always regulate our anger very well, even as adults!) The best way to help children develop those neural pathways is to offer empathy, while they're angry and at other times. It's okay, good, actually, for your child to express those tangled, angry, hurt feelings. After we support kids through a tantrum, they feel closer to us and more trusting. They feel less wound-up inside, so they can be more emotionally generous. They aren't as rigid and demanding.

8. Remember that anger is a defense against a threat. It comes from our "fight, flight or freeze" response. Sometimes the threat is outside us, but usually, it isn't. We often see threats outside us because we're carrying around old stuffed emotions like hurt, fear or sadness. (In other words, your angry child really is not a threat to your safety or well-being.) Whatever's happening in the moment triggers those old feelings, and we go into fight mode to try to stuff them down again.

So while your child may be upset about something at the moment, it may also be that he's lugging around a full emotional backpack, and just needs to express those old tears and fears. A new disappointment can feel like the end of the world to a child, because all those old feelings come up. Kids will do anything to fend off these intolerable feelings, so they rage and lash out.

9. Make it safe for your child to move past anger. If they feel safe expressing their anger, and we meet that anger with compassion, the anger will begin to melt. So while we accept our child's anger, it isn't the anger that is healing. It's the expression of the tears and fears beneath the anger that washes out the hurt and sadness and makes the anger vanish, because once your child shows you those more vulnerable feelings, the anger is no longer necessary as a defense.

10. Stay as close as you can. Your child needs an accepting witness who loves him even when he's angry. If you need to move away to stay safe, tell him "I won't let you hurt me, so I'm moving back a bit, but I am right here. Whenever you're ready for a hug, I'm right here."

If he yells at you to "Go away!" say "You're telling me to go away, so I am moving back, ok? I won't leave you alone with these scary feelings, but I 'm moving back."

11. Keep yourself safe. Kids often benefit from pushing against us when they're upset, so if you can tolerate it and stay compassionate, that's fine to allow. But if your child is hitting you, move away. If she pursues you, hold her wrist and say "I don't think I want that angry fist so close to me. I see how angry you are. You can hit the pillow I'm holding, or push against my hands, but no hurting." Kids don't really want to hurt us— it scares them and makes them feel guilty. Most of the time, when we move into compassion and they feel heard, kids stop hitting us and start crying.

12. Don't try to evaluate whether he's over-reacting. Of course he's over-reacting! But remember that children experience daily hurts and fears that they can't verbalize and that we don't even notice. They store them up and then look for an opportunity to "discharge" them. So if your kid has a meltdown over the blue cup and you really can't go right now to get the blue cup out of the car, it's ok to just lovingly welcome his meltdown. Most of the time, it wasn't about the cup, or whatever he's demanding. When children get whiny and impossible to please, they usually just need to cry.

13. Acknowledging her anger will help her calm down a bit. Then help her get under the anger by softening yourself. If you can really feel compassion for this struggling young person, she'll feel it and respond. Don't analyze, just empathize. "You really wanted that; I'm so sorry, Sweetie." Once you recognize the feelings under the anger, she will probably pause and stop lashing out. You'll see some vulnerability or even tears. You can help her surface those feelings by focusing on the original trigger: "I'm so sorry you can't have the ___ you want, Sweetie. I'm sorry this is so hard." When our loving compassion meets her wound, that's when she collapses into our arms for a good cry. And all those upset feelings evaporate.

14. AFTER he's calmed down, you can talk. Resist the urge to lecture. Tell a story to help him put this big wave of emotion in context. "Those were some big feelings...everyone needs to cry sometimes...You wanted....I said no...You were very disappointed...You got so angry....You were sad and disappointed....Thank you for showing me how you felt...." If he just wants to change the subject, let him. You can circle back to bring closure later in the day or at bedtime, while you're snuggling. But most young children WANT to hear the story of how they got mad and cried, as long as it's a story, not a lecture. It helps them understand themselves, and makes them feel heard.

15. What about teaching? You don't have to do as much as you think. Your child knows what she did was wrong. It was those big feelings that made her feel like it was an emergency, and necessary to break the rule about being kind. By helping her with the emotions, you're making a repeat infraction less likely.

Wait until after the emotional closure, and then keep it simple. Recognize that part of her wants to make a better choice next time, and align with that part. Be sure to give her a chance to practice a better solution to her problem. "When we get really angry, like you were angry at your sister, we forget how much we love the other person. They look like they're our enemy. Right? You were so very mad at her. We all get mad like that and when we are very mad, we feel like hitting. But if we do, later we're sorry that we hurt someone. We wish we could have used our words. I wonder what else you could you have said or done, instead of hitting?"

Accepting emotions like this is the beginning of resilience. Gradually, your child will internalize the ability to weather disappointment, and learn that while he can't always get what he wants, he can always get something better—someone who loves and accepts all of him, including the yucky parts like disappointment and anger. He'll have learned that emotions aren't dangerous—they can be tolerated without acting on them, and they pass. Gradually, he'll learn to to verbalize his feelings and needs without attacking the other person—even when he's furious.

You'll have taught him how to manage his emotions. And you'll have strengthened, rather than eroded, your bond with him. All by taking a deep breath and staying compassionate in the face of rage. Sounds saintly, I know, and you won't always be able to pull it off. But every time you do, you'll be helping your child grow the neural pathways for a more emotionally intelligent brain. And you'll be gifting yourself a lot less drama—and a lot more love.

Originally posted on Aha! Parenting.

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As a mid-Spring holiday, we never knew exactly what to expect from the weather on Easter when I was growing up in Michigan: Would we get to wear our new Sunday dresses without coats? Or would we be hunting for eggs while wearing snowsuits?

Although what the temperature had in store was really anyone's guess, there were a few special traditions my sister and I could always depend on—and it won't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that my favorite memories revolved around food. After all, experts say memories are strongest when they tie senses together, which certainly seems to be true when it comes to holiday meals that involve the sounds of laughter and the taste of amazing food.

Now that I'm a parent, I'm experiencing Easter anew as my children discover the small delights of chocolate, pre-church brunch and a multi-generational dinner. While I still look forward to the treats and feasting, I'm realizing now that the sweetest thing of all is how these traditions bring our family together around one table.

For us, the build-up to Easter eats is an extended event. Last year's prep work began weeks in advance when my 3-year-old and I sat down to plan the brunch menu, which involved the interesting suggestion of "green eggs and ham." When the big morning rolled around, his eyes grew to the size of Easter eggs out of pure joy when the dish was placed on the table.

This year, rather than letting the day come and go in a flash, we are creating traditions that span weeks and allow even the littlest members of the family to feel involved.

Still, as much as I love enlisting my children's help, I also relish the opportunity to create some magic of my own with their Easter baskets—even if the Easter Bunny gets the credit. This year, I'm excited to really personalize the baskets by getting an "adoptable" plush unicorn for my daughter and the Kinder Chocolate Mini Eggs that my son hasn't stopped talking about since seeing at the store. (You can bet this mama is stocking up on some for herself, too.)

At the same time, Easter as a parent has opened my eyes to how much effort can be required...

There is the selection of the right Easter outfits for picture-perfect moments.

There is the styling of custom Easter baskets.

There is the filling of plastic eggs and strategic placement of them throughout the yard.

But when the cameras are put away and we all join together around the table for the family dinner at the end of the day, I can finally take a deep breath and really enjoy—especially with the knowledge that doing the dishes is my husband's job.

This article was sponsored by Kinder. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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Last month Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom announced some big news: The engaged pair are expecting a baby!

Perry announced her pregnancy when the music video for her single, "Never Worn White" showed her rocking a bump and this weekend she announced she's expecting a girl...by posting a photo of Bloom's face covered in pink frosting.

She geotagged the photo "Girls Run the World" and captioned it "💕 It's a girl 💕."

Clearly, this man is thrilled about becoming a #girldad.

Perry is due in the summer, as she previously noted on Instagram.

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"Let's just say it's gonna be a jam packed summer..." she captioned her original pregnancy announcement.

"OMG, so glad I don't have to suck it in anymore," Perry tweeted after the big news went public.

"I am excited. We're excited and happy and it's probably the longest secret I've ever had to keep," Perry explained in a live stream with fans.

Of course not long after Perry announced her pregnancy the world changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the pandemic, Perry and Bloom have postponed their wedding, according to People and are pretty much just laying low at home trying to enjoy Perry's pregnancy as much as possible during this difficult time.

Perry recently told Stellar Magazine that the wedding is about more than throwing a big bash, so while it would be totally normal to be disappointed by having to postpone it, the mom-to-be seems to be in a good place regarding her nuptials.

She told Stellar: "It's not about the party. It's about the coming together of people who will hold us accountable when things get really hard. Those are just the facts when you're with someone who challenges you to be your best self."

The little girl Bloom and Perry are expecting will have a lot of people to love on her. While this is the first child for Perry, Bloom is already a dad to a 9-year-old boy who will soon be a big brother.

Congratulations to Perry + Bloom!

News

On Friday President Trump announced that the Centers for Disease Control is now advising people to wear a cloth mask if they need to go out in public. It's not a rule, he says, but a recommendation.

"It's really going to be a voluntary thing," President Trump told reporters. "I'm not choosing to do it."

First Lady Melania Trump is urging others to do it, tweeting, "As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone—we can stop this together."

What the CDC says about cloth face masks:

The CDC says it's recommending cloth face masks because recent studies show that people can have COVID-19 while asymptomatic, meaning they feel fine and because they don't know they are sick they might still be going about their daily routine in their community.

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Basically, masks don't protect the wearer as much as they protect people from the wearer (who might not know they are sick) by blocking respiratory droplets

"So it's not going to protect you, but it is going to protect your neighbor," Dr. Daniel Griffin at Columbia University, an expert on infectious diseases, tells NPR.

CDC experts are "advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure."

They say if you're going somewhere where it's hard to maintain the proper social distance of six feet, like a grocery store or a pharmacy, then it's a good idea to wear a simple cloth mask.

"The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance," the CDC states.

"You may need to improvise a cloth face covering using a scarf or bandana," the agency notes on its website.

A DIY cloth mask is an extra layer of protection:

The CDC still says that staying home and practicing good hand hygiene is the best protection against COVID-19, but a cloth mask would be an extra layer of protection if you must go out to get food or unavoidable medical care.

According to Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, certain types of fabric are better than others when it comes to making a mask. While he CDC says improvised bandanas or scarfs are better than nothing, Segal says DIY mask makers should aim a little higher for the masks to be effective.

"You have to use relatively high-quality cloth," Dr.Segal, who is researching this topic, tells NBC News.

According to Segal you don't want to use a knit fabric (like an old T-shirt) but rather a woven fabric. He suggests a double layer of heavyweight cotton with a thread count of at least 180 (like quilters cotton). If you don't have a cotton with that high of a thread count, line it with flannel.

For more tips on how to sew a fabric face mask, check out these instructions from Kaiser Permanente.

No-sew methods:

If you're not a sewer you can still fashion a mask, and there are plenty of no-sew tutorials online showing you how. Use heavyweight woven fabric like Segal suggests and make one of these without a sewing machine.

How To Make a Pleated Face Mask // Washable, Reusable, No-Sewing Required youtu.be

Should kids wear masks? Talk to your doctor.

The CDC is not recommending masks if you're just going for a walk around the block or playing in the backyard (which is the extent of most kids' outings these days). The masks are more for grocery runs, which many parents are opting to do alone these days.

But solo parents and those with partners who are in the military know that leaving the kids behind isn't always an option if you're the only adult in the home. If that's your circumstance, choose delivery options when possible to avoid taking your children to public places like grocery stores and pharmacies (the kinds of places the CDC recommends masks for).

If you are concerned that you may need to take your child somewhere where a mask would be required, call your pediatrician for advice on whether a mask is appropriate for your child's age and circumstances. Babies' faces should not be covered.

If you have no one to watch your children while you get groceries and cannot get them delivered try contacting your local government, community groups and churches for leads on grocery delivery help. They may be able to put you in touch with someone who can fetch groceries for you so that you don't have to take your children to the store with you.

News

Lizzie climbed up the playground stairs on all fours, walked across the small suspension bridge and slid down the big red slide at our neighborhood park. I followed just inches behind my 4-year-old daughter ready to catch her.

I had become her shadow by necessity. Her actions were often unpredictable and sometimes dangerous so my arms became her safety net. Her big brown eyes and unruly curly brown hair encapsulated her carefree spirit, and I adored her with a love I never thought myself capable of.

She walked over to the swings and stood there, stiff, her eyes glazed over. She didn't look to me for help. She didn't point, raise her arms up or ask me to place her in the swing. But I knew what she wanted—I sensed it.

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"Do you want to swing, Lizzie?" I asked in a gentle voice. She remained silent.

I didn't expect an answer, but I always asked in hopes today was the day she would choose to use her voice to form a word for the sake of communicating with me. I placed her in the swing anyway and pushed her to the exact height I knew she preferred.

A look of contentment came across her face and a giant smile curled her lips. She was in her happy place. This place was a place I wasn't allowed in—not yet anyway. She lived in an alternative universe inside her head, and after the park, we would spend the rest of the day inside using therapy techniques to pull her from this place into the real world. I missed my daughter and the connection we once had.

There were so many quirks I thought were hers alone, when in fact they were symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

Here are five possible signs of autism parents should know about. If you notice something that concerns you, please reach out to your pediatrician.

1. Change in language

As a baby, Lizzie's language gradually changed from babbling to gibberish. "With typically developing language skills, infants will babble often as early as two to three months indicating first instances of intentional and social communication," says licensed clinical speech language pathologist Julie Liberman. "An early sign of autism may be seen in infants creating nonsense syllables without added social-communicative behaviors."

Lizzie lost her social-communicative sounds and began to mimic noises from her environment such as screeching sounds or sirens. She also developed a few sounds such as "diddle diddle" that she would repeat all day long. The transition was subtle and slow—enough that at first I didn't recognize that it was happening. .

2. Sensory processing issues

"Sensory processing is how our brain and body organize and respond to sensory information. Issues develop when we are over or under-responsive to sensory information which impacts the body's ability to organize it, or modulate it and so responses range outside of typical parameters and dysregulation is observed," writes licensed occupational therapist Rachel Wolverton.

Lizzie walked on her tiptoes, flapped her arms when she was excited and ran full speed into the couch cushions over and over again. Many toddlers do similar behaviors, and we thought she was just being quirky and adorable. As part of her diagnosis, though, we came to understand that these repeated behaviors were signals that her processing was under-stimulated. She needed these movements to help her body and brain function. This also works the opposite way, too. Many kids are over-sensitive to lights, sounds and/or touch, so they become easily overstimulated. They might cover their ears, melt down when clothes are put on their bodies or withdraw from crowds.

3. Lack of response to name

Lizzie displayed what I call "selective hearing." I would stand in front of her, saying her name with a raised voice and she wouldn't respond or look up. She appeared to be deaf, but as soon as the theme song from her favorite Dora the Explorer TV show came on, she would run from the other room to watch.

As autistic teen advocate Matteo Musso explains, "Because we hear your voice so much, we don't usually respond to our name. It's that you say our name the same way all the time. A TV is more auditorily complex. One-word, same voice, can get lost in our thoughts and in our brain."

4. Repetitive behavior

My daughter began lining up her toys by color and her green peas at the dinner table. We thought she was brilliant! She is brilliant, but as it turns out, not because of her repetitive behavior.

While many children love repetition—as any parent who's got their child's favorite bedtime story memorized knows—what I learned is that the kind of repetitive behavior we saw in Lizzie is one of the core symptoms of autism.

"Individuals with autism typically find much comfort in repetitive behaviors, giving them a sense of control over their environment in a quite unruly world," says Dr. Caroline W. Ford, clinical psychologist and director of the Fairhill School and Diagnostic Assessment Center in Dallas. As she explains, autistic children experience real difficulty when their repetitive behaviors are interrupted: "When asked to change or alter the repetitive behavior, many autistic children become overly anxious."

5. Loss of connection

One of the most beautiful moments between mother and child is the first time her baby looks into her mom's eyes. It was in that moment with Lizzie, the connection formed was so strong I knew I would be willing to do anything for her.

Slowly over the course of months, she became more and more distant. She wandered around the house aimlessly and didn't seem to need me at all. As long as there was food and drink available, she was content to be all alone. It was hard to measure because it was a feeling, a distancing, a loss of connection. I second-guessed my feelings regularly. Mothers have a built-in intuition with their children, which should never be underestimated.

After my daughter's diagnosis with autism at the age of two, we researched and implemented a 30-hours-a-week home therapy program (although it's important to know that early intervention supports can also be found through community organizations and school systems—you don't have to do this alone). Now, I'm happy to say, Lizzie has made good progress, and I've found (and offered) support in the generous community of parents of autistic children like mine. I even started a non-profit, United in Autism, which partners with local charities to bring community-building, emotional-support events to special needs moms all over the country.

My daughter continues to be a source of joy and amazement. Most importantly, I know now that my daughter and I are not alone—and we never were.

Learn + Play

Starting this weekend Target and Walmart will be limiting the number of people allowed in its stores to give shoppers and staff more space to spread out and adhere to social distancing recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Beginning April 4, Target will actively monitor and, when needed, limit the total number of people inside based on the store's specific square footage," Target notes in a news release.

Walmart's corporate message is similar: "Starting Saturday, we will limit the number of customers who can be in a store at once. Stores will now allow no more than five customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time, roughly 20 percent of a store's capacity."

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At Target you will also notice staff wearing gloves and masks over the next two weeks as the company steps up its coronavirus protection measures.

Many people are choosing to stay home and order groceries online, but that's not an option for everyone as long lines at some Target's prove.

"We're incredibly proud of the commitment our more than 350,000 frontline team members have demonstrated to ensure millions of guests can count on Target, and we'll continue to focus our efforts on supporting them," says Target's Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, John Mulligan.

Target is open this weekend but—along with Costco, Aldi, Publix and Trader Joe's—Target stores will be closed on Easter Sunday to give the essential employees in these stores a much-deserved break.

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