In this special bonus episode of the Parenting Junkie Show, I interview Tosha Schore, whose mission is to create a more peaceful world one sweet boy at a time. Tosha helps parents who have young boys who are struggling with aggression issues, helping change their behavior without using punishment or harshness.
This episode will be helpful even if you don’t have boys. You no doubt have boys in your life in some way (nephews, friends of your kids, etc.) and you’ll learn about what we need to change regarding the way we treat boys in our culture.
- [3:46] We have an opportunity to bring more peace to the world by changing how we parent/treat boys. Tosha helps parents with boys around 2-8 years old to change their behavior without any punishment at all. The state of the world can be overwhelming, but truly if you want to change the world, go home and love your family. We can use that enthusiasm to bring peace to the world in our parenting, because it truly is a powerful way to change the world.
- [11:12] Men often tamp down their boy’s feelings to help them avoid the shame they experienced as a child. They often just want to protect their little guys from going through what they went through. We can’t even blame them! Parents need a place to be together to put their cards on the table, face UP, where we’re not going to be shamed by parents like, “What’s wrong with you? How can you let him talk to you that way?”
- [13:08] The way to “fix it” is not by shaming parents or the boys.
- [15:32] Parents get scared; men don’t want their boys to be shamed like they were, and women are often triggered by past trauma. Women may be triggered by aggression especially due to past trauma. Often women will say to Tosha that their 3-year-old is big and strong! She takes this as a mental note that the woman is scared!
- [16:03] First we have to heal ourselves and work on our own triggers. The reality is, we need to heal ourselves in order to help our kids. We need to be the leaders because we’re going to be the ones to make a change, not our kids.
- [17:18] We often believe a fallacy that if they behave “properly,” then they get our love and affection. We need to flip that around. When they’re struggling, that’s a call for help. We need to FIRST move toward connection, then we will see the behavior changes. What can I do to help life go better for him and for us?
- [22:23] Move in close and try to be playful about it. It absolutely pays off to do this while they’re young! In the future, they know they can come to us instead of needing to sneak around and hide what they’ve done. It’s anti-everything we’re taught, but the reality is they’re feeling completely alone when they act like this.
- [23:39] It’s not about teaching them what’s ok and what’s not…they know. If you asked your son, “Is it OK to break that plate?” what would he say? They have a keen sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. If they’re not able to DO the right thing, it means they need help. Cognitively, they know it’s not the right thing. It’s not like when a dog pees on the couch and you need to teach them it’s not OK. Kids know, they are just communicating something and are not necessarily “doing it on purpose” either. With the perspective of “He is doing the best he can always,” then me as the parent has to come in and figure out what’s going on. It IS a call for help and a call for attention, but that’s a good thing.
- [27:46] Kids often will say or do things that are contrary to what they really want or need. “Go away! I hate you! Leave me alone!” might actually mean, “Please don’t go, I really need you.” Communication is not JUST talking it out and using our words. Look at what your child is doing with his body! What are they really communicating?
- [30:34] Your body/physical touch is a parenting tool. It’s a dangerous thing to give up on thinking that we have the right to use our bodies as a tool. Sometimes we actually might need to set a physical boundary – against their consent – to keep everyone safe.
- [31:55] Setting limits is extremely important for the well-being of you and your family. They really are a gift because they allow us to be the parent. It doesn’t mean we all have to parent the same way – one way isn’t right or wrong – but we need to take time to figure out how we want to run our family based on our values. Then, how do we turn those values into limits?
- [33:52] Limits will shine a light on the area(s) your kid’s struggle with. By bringing a limit, it forces your child to be face to face with a discomfort like fear, a lack of confidence, etc. Give your child that opportunity to heal whatever is getting in the way of doing the right thing to do, or whatever the task or expectation is – rather than just letting them off the hook. High expectations (with high support) is a gift.
- [37:17] Limits can (and should) be set with love. Limits DO NOT need to be set harshly, involve shame, or involve blame.
- [38:25] We often subconsciously expect kids to love the limits we set…but they won’t. You have to get comfortable with the fact that they won’t like it. Crying is OK. Crying is allowed. It doesn’t have to be without any struggle. But it doesn’t have to be with all of the fear, and making children feel bad about themselves either.
- [40:33] Why do we do things that don’t work over and over, expecting them to suddenly start working? Every morning we can wake up and say “Johnny put your shoes on!” “Johnny I told you to put your shoes on!” even though it didn’t work yesterday, or the day before, or the day before. In these situations, start ahead of time. When we’re “surprised”, we lose our patience pretty quickly. But when we expect it, then we’re coming at it with a different energy. We’re not disappointed, or rushed for time.
- [42:53] Being playful and silly is a great way to diffuse tense situations. Giving yourself extra time, is important so that you feel like being playful because you’re not so frustrated!
- [43:28] Once a child feels seen and connected, he wants to cooperate. When our limbic system isn’t flooding our thinking brain with stress hormones, we WANT to be all of those “good behaviors.”
- [44:57] If you’re uncomfortable with aggressive play, step outside your comfort zone and experiment with allowing it. We can relax knowing that a kid who is growing up playing with guns, is not going to grow up to be a school shooter. It’s still OK to set your own boundaries, for example “I don’t want to be wet, so please don’t shoot the water gun at me.”
- [51:56] What about aggressive video games? We get to decide as parents. Research doesn’t suggest direct correlations between video games and real life aggression, however, kids need connection in order to prevent real life aggression. Video games can disconnect kids, AND it can connect them with community and friends across the world. There are real dangers with this, but it’s just something we need to be aware of.
- [53:09] Do what’s best for you and your family (even if “all their friends” play a certain game and you feel uncomfortable with it).
- [55:04] Be interested in what your kids are interested in and learn about the games they’re playing. If your child is super into a game, you should probably get super into it too! So from there you can decide which boundaries to set.
- [55:28] Tech should stay in a family space (i.e. not in a bedroom).
- [56:01] If something interferes with their wellbeing, you may need to set limits around that activity. And experiment with limits and adjust as necessary. The limit doesn’t have to be forever. See how it affects behavior.
- [58:50] Behavior doesn’t equal identity. If you’re struggling with aggression in your family, remember this.
If we consistently step toward our boys when they act up and focus on building connection, we’ll start to see the aggressive behaviors “peel off” (like layers of an onion). Remember, your sweet boy is in there regardless of current behavior
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