Dear Tulum,

You mentioned the fall harvest and that some of the parents are experiencing tantrums, etc. Count us in. I would say for the past 2-3 weeks we have seen tantrums, whining, and pouting here at home with my 5 year old daughter. I'm approaching the tantrums in the moment by staying calm, setting boundaries, giving love, and enforcing a cooling off period. Overall, we are sticking very closely to a regular schedule, being consistent, setting a special time to play together, and getting more rest. This seems to be working. The tantrums are becoming less intense and happening less often. My question is about the pouting. Her back hunches over, shoulders slump, head hangs down looking at the ground. It seems to be in response to when she genuinely feels badly about something, and is also used when she doesn't get her way. It feels like a control tactic, and it is making me quite nutty. Can you give me any suggestions on this?

Thanks! Going Nutty!

It’s harvest time folks! The time of the year when your children are harvesting the growth, experiences and learning they did over the spring and summer. Their unspoken MO: Test new techniques.  Retest old techniques.  Check to see if parents mean what they say. 

Every fall each of us processes everything we experienced over the last two seasons. This results in emotional upheaval. Especially around the harvest moon. If you don’t believe me, look around and notice.  Or come spend a day or two here at Oakhaven, you’ll see.

Here is what you need to know:

Expect tantrums, melt downs, back talk, power struggles and general weepiness, both from yourselves and the little ones. 

Here’s why:

It is part of the process of learning. Picture this graph. While learning we all experience a rapid incline while taking in new information, then a leveling off and before the learning is cemented an actual regression! Then the process repeats. The harvest represents that regression, so take heart that your children are on their way to completing a cycle and gearing up for the next.

Here’s what you do:

Sit everyone down and discuss the harvest. (By the way, I am surprised that many of you do not think to sit down and discuss stuff with your kids. And I don’t want to hear any lame excuses about them or you being too young, too old, too busy, too overwhelmed, too too too...).

Decide together how you will each take care of yourselves. 

Clarify your own emotional issues.  Share your experience with your family without taking it out on them.  Once you have cleared your own emotional space any action you need to take will come clear. This is how we model processing our feelings in a healthy way.
Do not try to fix, change or understand your children’s feelings.  This will only get in the way of their processing their experiences and emotions resulting in them lasting longer and not getting worked through to completion.  When feelings are not fully processed that energy gets trapped and added to the next experience.  

Set up those nests and feel-better spots. Role play at neutral moments how to use them. Do it several times. Make it fun.

Model going to your spot when you need to feel better.  

When your child forgets to go to her spot go there yourself. Do it as many times as needed until she gets it.  Reply “Thank you.” to expressions of emotion and whining.  Resist the temptation to get hooked into their stuff.  Hum to avoid too many words coming out of your mouth.

Decide together how you will handle power struggles and back talk.  If time or circumstances do not allow you to come to a consensus decide what you will do and announce it.  Unless it is a safety issue avoid focusing on what you will make your child do, this only leads to power struggles.

To a child when the weather and daylight hours change all the rules come into question.  Decide together what rules are the same, what are different.  

Things to remember:

Act without talking.

Take time for training.

Talk to your child with the love and respect you show cherished friends.

Treat the entire family, yourself included, with patience, kindness and firmness.  

No matter what our feelings we still need to do our day.  Get on with it.

Want to read my answer to Going Nutty?

Dear Nutty,

Wow, You are doing so much right!  Clearly you are a practicing mindful parent.  The pout piece will be a cinch to fix:

Bring it up at a family meeting.
Name it.
Decide what action you will take and exactly how that will look.
Practice a few times as in a role play.
Respond as decided every time.

Keep your chin up.  This too will pass.

Happy Harvesting,