In « Il me cherche ! » (“He’s provoking me!”), it is said “Kids hate limits, they love rules.”
(we had already noticed that during our reading of « J’ai tout essayé! » (“I tried everything!”)

What’s the difference?
Limits set what’s forbidden, whereas rules, like those of a game, aim to allow.

Why privilege rules?
For two reasons: one, because formulating in terms of prohibitions won’t be as efficient, and second because if the child has to suffer prohibitions when he is in position of inferiority, chances are he will use the same methods of prohibiting things, when he is in position of superiority.
We are in a way teaching him how to use the power of position onto others in an abusive way!
Thus, and I follow here the author’s thought, he’ll show less respect for others in relationships with his friends, his siblings… and you’ll see more conflicts!

Last week, we went to the community pool of a friend’s building.
Another family was there, and the little boy had borrowed our tricycle.
He was happy, and rode and rode, until he decided it was fun to ride right around the pool. Not only the idea of rolling around the pool is problematic, but additionally, it’s circled with slippery tiles.
The mom tries to tell him: “Don’t go there!”, but the boy doesn’t listen.
I get close, get to his height, and tell him: “Look, with that tricycle, you can go anywhere where it isn’t slippery, like there (showing a spot a little further from the pool)”.

Without saying anything, he rolls away on a place without slippery tiles.

“He’s provoking me!” contains a part dedicated to welcoming the emotions.

Can we ever insist enough on this point?

Faber and Mazlish were already doing this in How to Talk so kids…, in Liberated Parents, Liberated Children, in Siblings without Rivalry, and Isabelle Filliozat does too Understanding children’s emotions, and I’m still skipping some… Welcoming the emotions is key in all conversations, in fact, just as much with children as with adults!

It’s probably on this point that non violent communication connects the most with ideas from positive parenting.

I really think that giving this example to children is contributing to a better society, in which people listen to each other, developing a certain empathy…

In that part, all this isn’t re-exposed, but some ideas are given for the expression of these emotions on a more physical level:

  • Inviting to “shake” the emotion, through moving your arms, dancing…
  • For us: accepting the tears of the child by imaging a container that I hold in front of myself (so I don’t take everything to the heart). It’s the sort of idea that seems a little ridiculous in theory, but I still decided to try it out, and I indeed stayed very relaxed in front of the crying.
  • Hitting a pillow with rage, with wide moves and an open plexus
  • Helping the child control his respiration by getting behind him and wrapping him with your arms.
  • Faced with a situation that scares him repetitively: playing the scary situation with him, to teach him to dominate it.
  • Decreasing sugar quantity!

The container of love, or container of affection… A term already heard many times.

I think the first time that I heard this expression was in The 5 love languages of children . (which I’ll have to put up here someday… But I read it much before starting this blog…)

Isabelle Filliozat uses this expression in “He’s provoking me!”, and gives various illustrations of it, as we have already seen in the first article I wrote about this book.

Here, a couple suggestions as to ways of filling it:

  • A shared game, in the morning, to fill it up before the day to come.

According to Isabelle Filliozat : “A game in the morning entails a considerable reduction of complains, cries, and fights for the rest of the day.” Not easy to find a time to play in the morning routine…
(A thought for Marie, my sister in law, who told me that getting ready to go to school was one of the most stressful moments for her)

But I like this idea, I’m already persuaded that it must provide a real improvement.
Aren’t we always told to reduce the level of stress imposed to children?
I think I’m going to try.

  • Laughing and pretend fighting

Pillow fights and other tickles are opportunities to come closer, with strong increases of ocytocines…

And if sometimes the game ends in tears, it could be because the child feels safe again, and expresses his problems. In a way, we help him rebuild the link with the figure of attachment, so he “finally” expresses himself

It’s also the occasion to help the child, boy or girl, to test his limits, even control himself. We can put certain ground rules : “When I say STOP, we stop.”

It will also help them when they play with their siblings !

In “He’s provoking me!” (“Il me cherche!”), Isabelle Filliozat makes a remarque about our relationship with our children : Sometimes, we try to make them speak about themselves without really managing it.

“How did it go?” receives the answer “well”. It’s completely dull!

There are quite a few ways to open otherwise the conversation for better results, but what I’m interested in here, is the idea that we encourage our child better through explaining what we have ourselves lived through. We can take the initiative of creating the intimacy!

I noticed it first hand:
Last night, we went to a restaurant with our two older ones (14 and 9 years old), and Nicolas said with a large smile (and without having read this book) “Today, we finally sent a first version of the budget to the headquarters! ”
It didn’t mean anything to them, they didn’t know there was a budget to be sent, but they were happy to see their farther happy, and immediately followed up with their anecdotes from that day!

An interesting experience reported by Isabelle Filliozat in “He’s provoking me!” (“Il me cherche !”).

7 to 12 years old girls are asked to do math problems in front of adults they don’t know.
Immediate effect : secretion of cortisone, the stress hormone.

After that, they are divided into 3 groups :
The girls from the first go back to their mothers, who reassure them by holding them in their arms.
The girls from the second talk to their mums over the telephone.
The girls from the third watch a very calm movie.

Result : the girls from the first two groups had a hormonal response of production of ocytocine, the effects of which lasted for various days. With the girls from the third group though, no trace of ocytocine was seen…

Thus the contact with one’s mother, even through phone, allows for the child to feel better. An idea to keep in mind when we are separated for various days, and are wondering wether to call or not!

It isn’t the first time that I read this , it was in the summary list of chapter 2 of How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk, but I rewrite it because I, who speak too much, really have trouble applying this: often, one word is enough!
The child already knows what we are talking about. There is no need to remind him that “Your shoes are in my room.” (While I’m at it, let us notice that I am already in a stage of description, not bad, I seize the opportunity to congratulate myself on my competences), a simple “your shoes” should suffice…

Note:  This simple technique turned out to be the most efficient for the parents of my first cycle of workshops…

Back to the book post

We have already spoken , for very young children, of the trap of negative form, another point noted in the same book « J’ai tout essayé ! » (« I tried everything ! »)

Here, we speak of children that are a little older, but we follow the same idea: the message that gives the frame of authorizations is more efficient that that which prohibits.
In this direction  of thought, we will choose: “Here, we speak silently” rather than “Here, we don’t scream”.
(Hey, I will have to find another formulation of “we don’t hit” for Anatole…)

Or, in the case of the picture illustrating this post, in which I do have to tell him that he cannot touch it, I still focus on the positive, what we can do: “We can show with our finger without touching.”

It’s crazy how positivity can slip anywhere… In details…subtleties in language that change everything, and I have had the occasion of realizing this, even with other’s children

And I noticed that this idea corresponded quite well to a general evolution the last time I was at the airport!

On the second read of “He’s provoking me!”, I notice that the majority of the first situations are about the child’s love tank.

In a simple way, the child, like anybody else, needs to feel good.

When he lives through a stressful situation, he expresses it however he can, often inappropriately:
screaming, complaining, getting angry…
and he needs for us to show him our love.

A physical contact produces ocytocine, which helps him feel better.
A look, an ear, some shared time…

The child that doesn’t receive what he needs might find solution in retracting to protect himself :
refusing physical contact, isolating in his room…

So, let’s give love to our children, show them that we love them.
Unfortunately it isn’t enough, but it helps !

It is rare for us to clearly express what we feel.
Sometimes, it’s to avoid hurting another’s feelings, sometimes, it’s a social norm.
The child looks at us and understands that we mustn’t.
We mustn’t want that this little brother who takes up so much time from mum disappears, we mustn’t want to hit a friend that takes our toys.
Yet, all these feelings are valid. We must of course, nevertheless, make the difference between the wish, and the realizatdion of that wish.
These feelings are valid just because they are, as was explained in Liberated parents, liberated children. (chapter 2: They feel what they feel)
In Understanding children’s emotions, Isabelle Filliozat comes back to this. To prevent the child from feeling, is to decrease his belief in himself, his self-esteem : he is wrong to feel what he feels, he must contain it, he is bad…
No, on the contrary, let’s explain to him that it is normal to feel: “You must be sad that he said that!”, we can even show him that we accept him with his feelings: “I understand that you are mad, I love you all the same.” (Isabelle Filliozat)
Just this morning, we were talking about it with Léon (4 years old). We are going through a period where his little brother (2 years old) won’t stop hitting him. I know it will pass, but meanwhile…Pfff, let’s just say I can’t wait for it to pass!
Anyways, I was talking with Léon, and commenting how anxious we were for Anatole to learn not to hit anymore, and he answered me with this phrase, so true : “I too, sometimes, want to hit him, but I don’t.” I’m just very happy to see that this difference is clear to him.
As for the expression of his feelings, sometimes he also says : “I want to throw Anatole into a volcano!” The message is clear…

A notion that seems simple but that I hadn’t measured before: the ease of expression in front of the figure of attachment. I borrow this term, “figure of attachment” from Isabelle Filliozat.

Where does she describe this phenomenon, I don’t know anymore.

Was it in J’ai tout essayé ! » (« I tried everything ! »), or in “Il me cherche ! » (« He’s provoking me!”), in Understanding children’s emotions?

She uses this term to refer to the person, in the child’s surroundings, often the mother, with whom the child feels close enough to express himself.
And that is why the child sometimes “behaves well” with others, and starts complaining, crying, as soon as his mother appears: because he finally feels safe, and thus finally feels the right to express his feelings.
What a frustration right??

So, to summarize, if the child cries with his mother, it’s because he feels good…
Well…at least good enough to express that he doesn’t feel good!!
A much more positive way to see things!

Sure enough we have all lived moments where we have seen the child show only his emotions in the presence of his figure of attachment…
A concrete personal example.