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When our children get upset, most of us get upset, too. If the child is angry at us, we feel defensive or like the child's feelings are unwarranted. If he's upset at something else, we want to make him feel better, to make the emotions go away, as if emotions are dangerous. But the struggle is how we learn.


Your child isn't creating those feelings, and he needs your help to manage them. The only way to resolve emotions is to go through them.

Here's your game plan.

1. Calm yourself first

  • Use your pause button: Stop, drop your agenda (just for now), and take a deep breath before you engage with your child.
  • Remind yourself that your goal is to calm the storm for your child, not escalate it.
  • Don't take your child's emotions personally. This isn't about you, even if she's screaming “I hate you!” This is about her: her tangled-up feelings and still-developing brain.
  • Calm yourself with a mantra: “It’s not an emergency” or “This is an opportunity to be there for my child when he’s upset.”
  • Notice the sensations in your body.
  • Notice if you feel annoyance, or the urge to make your child’s feelings go away. Decide what your goal is to use this opportunity to build a closer relationship with your child and teach him helpful lessons about accepting and responding to emotions.

2. Connect and create safety

  • Reach out to connect emotionally, and if you can, physically.
  • Create safety with your touch, your warmth, your tone, your attitude.
  • Give your child the verbal and/or nonverbal message: “I will help you…You’re safe...You can handle this.”
  • If you breathe slowly and deeply, your child will usually begin to breathe more slowly.

3. Empathize

  • Match your child's tone. When kids feel that you really get how upset they are, they don't need to escalate.
  • Welcome the emotions and reflect them, mirroring your child’s tone. “You look so mad!” or “You seem a little worried about this sleepover.”
  • If your child is describing a problem to you, repeat back to him what you've heard: “I hear you loud and clear. You’re fed up with your brother going into your room and taking your gum."
  • If your child is expressing anger at you, resist the urge to tell her to be appropriate. Instead, acknowledge the feelings and invite her to tell you what she's upset about. “You must be so upset to talk to me that way, Kayla. Tell me what's happening.”
  • If you don't know what your child is feeling or your child gets angry when you “name” her emotions, “upset” is a good all-purpose word: “I hear how upset you are about this.”
  • Describing what your child is physically expressing helps him feel seen and heard, and can either help you name emotions or intentionally avoid it: “I see you’re biting your lip. You look worried.” Or “Your arms are crossed over your chest like this, and your brows are tight, like this. I wonder what's going on?”
  • Acknowledge your child's perspective. “You wish that….” or “This isn’t what you wanted….”
  • If your child is crying, words can be a distraction. Use them sparingly, to create safety and welcome the emotion: “Everybody needs to cry sometimes. It's good to feel those tears and let them go. I'm right here. You're safe."

4. Double-check to be sure your child feels understood by what you've said

This way, you don't have to worry about whether you were able to accurately reflect your child's feelings. Just ask.

“Is that right?”

“Is that what you’re telling me?”

“Am I getting that?”

  • Your child may agree—“Of course I’m mad!”—and elaborate.
  • Your child may correct you: “I’m not disappointed! I’m mad!” In that case, try again. If possible, use your child's exact words so they know you're listening: “I’m sorry, Caleb. I see now how mad you are. Tell me more about why.”
  • Or your child may correct you—“I’m NOT MAD!”—even though it's clear that you were accurate in your perception.That's a signal that your child is feeling judged or analyzed rather than understood. Acknowledge the correction and start over, connecting more as you describe the child's perspective: “I hear you, Lucas. You’re not mad. Let me see if I understand. You wanted X. Is that right?”

Don’t fight about what your child is actually feeling. What's important is that she feels understood. Her awareness of what she's feeling will shift as she moves through the emotions.

5. Deepen the conversation

You can do this by offering support, validating your child’s emotion, or simply inviting your child to tell you more.Validation doesn’t necessarily mean you agree, only that you understand why your child would feel this way. Let yourself feel some of what your child is feeling, while you still stay centered.If you really feel the emotion with your child, then you may get tears in your eyes at how heartbreaking this must be for your child.

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  • “Ouch, that must have hurt! Want to show me what happened?”
  • "Oh, Sofia, no wonder you’re upset.”
  • “It could be really embarrassing, to have your teacher say that.”
  • “You’re saying that I love your sister more….Ethan, that must feel so awful, to feel that…”
  • “I didn’t understand how important this was to you. Tell me more about this.”
  • “I hear how angry you are about this. What can I do to help make this better?”
  • “So I hear you’re upset because of X and also Y! Is there anything else?” Asking if there's anything else often opens the floodgates to get to the heart of why your child is upset. He may start with what a lousy mother you are for making oatmeal again, and end up telling you that he thinks you love his brother more, or he’s being bullied at school.
  • “Thank you for telling me this. I’m sorry that what I did upset you so much. Please tell me more.” When your child is angry at you, let him know you're listening. You may find out something that will transform your relationship for the better. Or you may find that his anger has nothing to do with you after all.
  • Describe the incident without judging, so your child feels understood. “Lena wanted to play with your doll and you were worried.You said ‘No!’ and hit Lena and you both cried. Right?” Telling the story helps the child to calm down, reflect, and integrate the emotions, as the emotional experience of the right frontal lobe is articulated by the verbal, more rational understanding from the left frontal lobe.

6. Problem solve

Most of the time, when kids (and adults) feel their emotions are understood and accepted, the feelings lose their charge and begin to dissipate. This leaves an opening for problem-solving.

If your child still seems upset and negative and isn’t open to problem-solving, that’s a sign that she hasn’t worked through the emotions yet and you need to go back to the earlier steps.

When your child is ready to problem-solve, resist the urge to solve the problem for them unless they ask you to; that gives your child the message that you don't have confidence in their ability to handle it. If they feel stuck, help them brainstorm and explore options: “Hmmm…..So you think you might do X. I wonder what would happen then?”

Time-consuming? Yes. But you'll notice that as you get more comfortable, you'll move through the steps quickly. Even better, you'll see your child get better at expressing emotions in a constructive way. Emotion coaching raises kids who are more emotionally intelligent. It also helps you stay calm when your child is upset, so it creates a more peaceful household.

Less drama, more love. Win-Win.

Originally posted on Aha! Parenting.

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Sometimes it can feel like toys are a mama's frenemy. While we love the idea of entertaining our children and want to give them items that make them happy, toys can end up taking the joy out of our own motherhood experience. For every child begging for another plastic figurine, there's a mama who spends her post-bedtime hours digging toys out from under the couch, dining room table and probably her own bed.

Like so many other moms, I've often found myself between this rock and hard place in parenting. I want to encourage toys that help with developmental milestones, but struggle to control the mess. Is there a middle ground between clutter and creative play?

Enter: Lovevery.

lovevery toys

Lovevery Play Kits are like the care packages you wish your child's grandparent would send every month. Expertly curated by child development specialists, each kit is crafted to encourage your child's current developmental milestones with beautiful toys and insightful activity ideas for parents. A flip book of how-tos and recommendations accompanies each box, giving parents not only tips for making the most of each developmental stage, but also explaining how the games and activities benefit those growing brains.

Even better, the toys are legitimately beautiful. Made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials materials and artfully designed, I even find myself less bothered when my toddler leaves hers strewn across the living room floor.

What I really love, though, is that the kits are about so much more than toys. Each box is like a springboard of imaginative, open-ended play that starts with the included playthings and expands into daily activities we can do during breakfast or while driving to and from lessons. For the first time, I feel like a company isn't just trying to sell me more toys―they're providing expert guidance on how to engage in educational play with my child. And with baby kits that range from age 0 to 12 months and toddler kits for ages 13 to 24 months, the kits are there for me during every major step of development I'll encounter as a new mama.

So maybe I'll never love toys―but I will always love spending time with my children. And with Lovevery's unique products, mixing those worlds has become child's play.


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

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One hour.

That's all this summer goal requires. It requires pretty much no planning or bucket list-making or thought, other than keeping your eyes open for opportunity. This hour will find you.

I figured out the impact of this hour when we spent last weekend at a water park while my son played lacrosse. Going back and forth from game to hotel water park all weekend left us feeling disjointed and exhausted. It was lots of fun, but I was just tired at the end of it. Every bone in my body couldn't wait to get home.

My kids, however, who can run all day and still not be tired, really wanted just one more hour in the water park. This meant I'd have to put on my bathing suit. We had to check out of our room, so if we stayed, we'd have to change in the damp, icky changing area. My hair would be wet. The water park was so loud. Not one thing about the idea of staying sounded appealing to me.

But still, they wanted to stay. They looked at us with hopeful eyes, begging for the fun to continue. Pretty much every other family was headed home. But we made a decision that changed how I am looking at my whole summer – and, really, how I'm looking at how my role as a parent.

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We stayed the extra hour. I am not exaggerating when I say it made all the difference.

I dug deep and decided I was going to be Fun Mom for an hour. I could have been Sit-in-a-chair-and-half-heartedly-watch-their-antics Mom for an hour, but I decided that would be a waste. If I wasn't going home, I was going to really be there for an hour. I was going to get my hair wet and not complain. For one hour, I was basically going to be a kid.

And it was So. Much. Fun.

I realized how important this hour was about 10 minutes in, when I found myself racing up the steps of the kiddie water slide area, chasing after Sam, plotting how I could adjust my way of sliding to finally beat him in our water slide race. I was ALL IN at that moment.

When I said I would slide with him, Sam's eyes lit right up and his little arms shot up in the air with a giant “YES!" He wanted to have fun with me. In that moment, I was not just Fun Mom. I was Fun Amy.

Having fun with your kids allows you to see them in a whole new light. I watched Sam use his God-given giant load of energy to run and run and run and embrace that hour, so much that I think he may be a fun genius.

I watched Kate fearlessly whip down water slides that made me scream like a baby. She held my hand. She was the one who was brave. She had no fear, and her fierce independence and determination made me feel lucky to be her friend for an hour.

I watched Thomas take Sam under his wing when it was his turn for slide races. I watched him teach Sam new water tricks and happily play in the kiddie area with reckless abandon, being kind and awesome to his brother at every turn.

I watched Ellie and Lily with their arms around each other, best friends for this sacred hour. I went down sides with each of them and floated through the lazy river as we all chatted, without a care in the world.

I held Todd's hand and rode down a slide with him in a double tube, just like in our dating days, our kids watching from behind, rolling their eyes with huge grins on their faces, hopefully seeing that marriage is more than making lunches and carting them around – that marriage is having actual fun with each other.

Spend the hour, my friends.

This hour reminded me how awesome it is to be the fun mom, to just be human with your kids. It reminded me how amazing it can be to say yes.

Sure, I could have used that hour to start on the massive pile of laundry we brought home. And full disclosure: We pushed ourselves to the point that there was plenty of super tired whining and complaining when we drove home. That hour could have saved us from having to stop for a little treat on the way home because now dinner was too far away. The house might have been cleaner and my people fed on time and in bed earlier had we not spent the hour.

But the laundry and the whining and the feeding of the people will always be there. That hour of fun was not only priceless. It was fleeting, like a feather in the wind we could catch if we tried. And we did.

Your hour may not be water park fun. This may sound like sheer torture to you. But your hour can be anything. And seriously, it's just an hour. We can do anything for an hour.

Thinking back, I remember my parents taking this same hour with us. My dad raced from roller coaster to roller coaster with my more adventurous siblings. My mom became more fun than any teenage shopping buddy we had. They spent the time. They took the hour. And we have amazing family memories because of it.

Life tries to drum that hour out of us. It tries to make us believe that getting stuff done is the ultimate prize. I am all for folded laundry and an empty sink and kids who are asleep at bedtime. But don't let life keep you from taking an hour here and there.

Find what you love, share it with your kids, say yes even when every bone in your old and weary body says no. Let your kids hear you scream like a kid going down a water slide. Get your hair wet. Eat ice cream for dinner. Play a family game of tag at the park as the sun goes down.

Show your kids you are more than a task master who cares too much about beds being made. Show them that you are not just the adult who wants them to entertain themselves at the water park while you sit in a hot tub (although I did that this weekend, too, and it was amazing).

Show them that family is fun, and that fun can actually come first. Show them the kid in you. It will bond you together in a whole new way.

Make it your goal this summer to take the hour. Those moments will make all the difference. And it's the moments that will change your family forever.

This post was originally published on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee.

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Breastfeeding is not easy. But neither is weaning. That's why this powerful photo from Brazilian mama Maya Vorderstrasse is going viral. Her husband captured the first time she ever breastfed their second daughter and next to it, almost two years later, the last time she fed their daughter from her breast.

And it's not just the photo that is powerful. In her caption Maya shares her emotional struggles with weaning and the tricks they used to make this transition easier for their youngest daughter. The caption reads:

"The first and last time my precious daughter ever nursed.

I didn't know that one person could feel so proud and so broken at the same time, right now I am a hormonal, emotional, and mental mess.

Raising my arm in this picture was very difficult for me as I had to fight through uncontrollable tears: this picture meant that I would never breastfeed my daughter ever again. I have been nursing for so long, that I don't know what it's like to not nurse anymore.



As I looked behind the camera, my husband is crying like I had never seen him cry before, like seriously, a deep gut cry. I was her comfort, her safe place, and I hope she still finds me that way. A month shy of 2 years old, she finally has a bed in a shared bedroom with her sister. We bought her her first bed, used any distraction we could come up with, snacks and new toys to keep her mind off of it.

My husband has taken over bedtime completely, including all nighttime wakings. We are on our third day, and every day gets a little bit easier. The guilt I feel for not putting her to bed is so intense and I can't wait to go back to it once she doesn't ask to nurse anymore. Closing a chapter is painful, but I am hopeful that this new season of our lives will also be special in its own way.

Through this maturation step she will not only grow more independent, but I will get a much needed break. She unlatched for the last time and sobbingly I said to my husband: "I did my best". He hugged me and responded with: "No. You did THE best, because you gave her your all". I love my family and am so thankful for such special and unforgettable moments like these. 💛

*my lazy boob has no clue about what's going on, but thoughts and prayers are accepted for my good one, I really think it might explode🤱🏻

**thank you to my husband, for insisting on filming this, I will treasure this forever.🤳🏼👩"

You've got this mama!

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If you're looking for basics for the kids for summer, you're in luck, mama. Primary clothes don't have logos or sparkles—they're classic prints and colors that can easily transition from one kid to the next. And this week, Primary is celebrating the new season with a major summer sale.

Items, like swimsuits, dresses, polos and more, are over 50% off. Most pieces are under $10 so you can stock up on an entire new wardrobe without breaking the budget.

Here's what we're adding to our carts—shop the entire sale here:

1. Baby rainbow stripe rash guard

With UPF 50, you can rest easy knowing baby has extra protection outdoors.

$14.50

SHOP

2. The track short

The easy pull-on waist will make outfit changes a breeze.

$10.50

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3. Rainbow stripe one-piece

Cute? Check. Will stay in place? Check. UPF 50? Check.

$18.00

SHOP

4. The short sleeve twirly dress

Made of 100% cotton jersey, this one will be a staple all summer long.

$10.00

SHOP

5. The polo babysuit

Perfect to dress up or down.

$8.00

SHOP

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Being an adult is no joke. Beyond dressing ourselves and our kids and, ya know, feeding and bathing the family, there are so many other things that life throws at us. And because we're adults, we have to take care of these myriad to-dos. Welcome to: Adulting!

I'm not just talking about laundry, filling up the gas tank and stocking the fridge with groceries, but those tasks that always get pushed back. Getting life insurance. Refinancing your loan debt. (Students loans? Us, too.) Signing up for marriage counseling.

But guess what? These seemingly heavy-lift tasks are now a whole lot easier and faster to tackle. Here's how to check off your most tedious adulting chores.

The life insurance

When you're single with no descendants, life insurance might not seem like a top priority. But when you suddenly have a kid (or three), setting your family up for financial success is a must. And thanks to Ladder, obtaining a policy isn't the taxing, cringe-inducing process it used to be! It's modern and easy to use—seriously, you can even sign up for a policy from your phone or tablet. Ladder makes it possible to obtain a policy in under five minutes. Yes, really. See? No need to procrastinate!

LEARN MORE

The student loan redux

You have the degree and the career and you also have the debt. And like us, you're likely just paying your monthly minimums without considering refinancing your student loans—because that sounds hard and complicated. Laurel Road simplifies the process. You can check your rates in only a few minutes (and don't worry, doing so won't impact to your credit score!).

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The marriage counselor

Did you know that 66% of couples report a drop in marital satisfaction when baby arrives? It's not surprising that an infant can cause stress for mama, but all that pressure can affect your relationship, too. Taking the time to really invest in marriage counseling often falls to the bottom of the to-do lists because of the many hurdles—finding a therapist, traveling to appointments, the cost of copays or out-of-pocket fees, the stigma around it all. With Lasting, however, you and your partner pair your apps and can begin working on your relationship together on your own timeline.

LEARN MORE

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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