Do you often play around with your kids and enjoy a bit of rough and tumble and then something happens that causes you to snap and become a ‘shouty’ Dad within moments?
Often in these circumstances, it further exacerbates the situation and your child still doesn’t do what you request. Instead, they go off to find mum for a cuddle as Daddy has been the big ‘ogre’. By this time, you have probably berated yourself and asked why did I do that? You are saying sorry, yet receiving no response. In fact; your wife or partner is now telling you off and so it goes on.
When this happens on a regular basis, you actually begin to perceive and accept this as a normal part of your family life. You may not be happy about it or your own behaviour which by now has become so ingrained you do not consider the impact it may be having on your toddler or children.
What’s going on?
This is probably what you are asking your children but let’s consider what is going on for your child. Firstly, we must remember your child is a child and learning about the world. A toddler is particularly curious about his or her world and EVERYTHING is fascinating to them, so much so they have to touch it, to ‘see’ what it feels like. Now if that’s your £5000 vase or your £500 i-pad it’s all the same to them. If it has very little value to you and they break it, they do not understand why you are now not shouting at them, in fact, your child may even flinch because they are so used to being shouted at. Let’s consider what is going on internally for your child.
Daddy is someone they love and trust who shows affection. Over time your child learns what is expected of them and will react badly if you shout because you have just activated their ‘flight or fight’ response in the lower part of the brain.
The amygdala is the part of the brain that controls our emotions and response to stressful situations. When in a difficult situation, it releases cortisol the stress hormone and depending on how bad the situation is, these levels can stay elevated for some time. This will be the reason why your child is not calming down or acting fearful and may be lashing out at you.
The way to avoid this is to learn how to control your own emotions. After all, you are the person your child looks up to and admires and loves unconditionally. If you need help in understanding the habits your child is displaying, look at yourself first and learn how to be a non ‘shouty’ Dad.
Please get in touch to arrange a call for more support with your child’s behaviour.