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Marie Forleo introduction


I'm Avital.

You want a present, peaceful and playful family life? I'm here to help you make that a reality.

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Behind-the-Scenes of Playful, Peaceful Parenting

Seeing REAL LIFE situations can often be more helpful than just listening to theory. I share this “behind-the-scenes” scenario from my home with my children’s permission and I ask that you respond to this video gently with them in mind.

My three children were a bit exhausted from the day and my focus was to feed them and prepare them for bed that evening.

The moment my son said that the food that I had prepared was DISGUSTING, that was when I started to feel triggered. I needed to take a moment to center myself to stay calm.

When my son called me dumb, he was looking to me to set a limit or hold a space for him to let out his big emotions. When he first said the food was disgusting, I stayed calm and he did not experience that contrast he would need to erupt in a tantrum. So, he upped the anteย by calling me dumb. But in this case, I didn’t want to set the limit because I knew I did not have the emotional resources to handle a full-blown tantrum right then and there. I decided instead to take the playful parenting route and to center myself.

First, I drew back to bring myself into a calm space.

When he didn’t get a rise out of me, he still needed that tension and he instead started teasing his brother. This could have easily become a “us-against-him” situation and I felt I needed to very quickly bring him around so he knew we were all on the same team.

Ultimately, the reason our children rile up against us, call us names, reject the food that we make, etc… is because they feel disconnected and their love cup isn’t full.

Ultimately, the reason our children rile up against us... is because they feel disconnected and their love cup isn't full.via @ParentingJunkieTweet This

One sentence that can help you calm your child down from a rough mood is, “Have you run out of hugs?” With a genuinely empathic tone of voice, we open ourselves up to join WITH them in their struggle. It’s a gentle way of saying “Can I connect with you?”

It can be really tempting to go into realms of deeper disconnection by sending them in a time-out, but the reason why they are behaving this way in the first place is because they feel scared or disconnected. To quickly re-establish a warm, loving connection can seem counter-intuitive. But this is exactly where we need to go to establish connection by rising to our best, adult selves.

To laugh together helped us all release the tension and be ready for a peaceful bedtime.

The fact that my son so quickly apologized for calling me dumb was enough for me to realize he knew that wasn’t a kind way to speak, and we didn’t have to revisit this again.

Every scenario throughout each day is unique and really there is never ONE right way to handle big emotions or challenging behavior. But I do feel we can practice centering ourselves and becoming aware of when and why we feel triggered, attuning ourselves to our intuition and to our children’s needs.

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Have you found playfulness an effective way to practice boundaries and maintain connection?


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38 Replies to “When My Son Called Me DUMB”

  1. Seeing this interaction made me cry, because my heart was touched. I really wish that my parents could have responded to me this way when I was young. I try to give my 3-yr-old son this kind of love and sensitivity. It does matter. Thank you for the work you’re doing and for sharing these real life moments inside your home.

  2. So so beautiful and you are so brave and loving to share. I definitely find having eyes on us helps us be a better, more patient mother.

    When my daughter was havimg a tantrum on the plane because she was so overtired, I surprised myself at how well I handled things that people even came up to me and asked how I remained so calm and loving even when she was being ” unreasonable” and triggering me.

    Your content had helped me so much and we are all on this journey together.

    1. I cried too! Thank you for sharing. It is so hard to stay calm when triggered, but you show that it is not only possible, but it is the answer to our children’s need for love and connection in those moments.

  3. This video made me cry, too! When you gave your son a hug and he apologized the moment was so beautiful. Witnessing the whole situation filled me with hope that I could parent like this, too.

  4. Such a beautiful capture, that also made me cry! Thanks for being such an inspiration and showing that we can make it through those moments with joy and laughter.

  5. I cried, too! I had a moment like this today and so receiving this email was perfect. I often manage to navigate my way through a toddler tantrum yet have a harder time with my four year old. Thanks to you and your family for showing us this real moment.

  6. So wise and hopeful. Thank you for sharing such realness. It definitely made me cry – being a mom is so hard..and beautiful.

  7. Thank you for sharing this personal moment with us. It really is so helpful seeing a real life scenario that we can learn from. I donโ€™t have kids yet, but my older sister has 4 kids (8 months-9yrs) so I sometimes apply your tips to them (my sister doesnโ€™t mind lol).

  8. Thank you…so much. I will be trying much harder to remain that calm with my 16 month old daughter as well as my life partner–her father!

    I do have a question, though. And I apologize if this is not the appropriate place to put it– As an educator, I’ve been trained to reward/acknowledge desired behavior (with words, not gifts or grades) as well as ignore the undesirable ones in order to minimize behaviors we do not want to see.

    How does one know when to respond with love, jokes, and kindness to meltdowns and when to curb the behavior by not acknowledging it? Or perhaps the question is how do I give the child what they need without them learning to meltdown for my attention and love…?

    1. As a parent of a toddler, I wonder this often too.

      Not sure I have the answer, but an answer for me is to basically shower our little girl with attention as much as possible when the moments are not rough, so that in the rough moments I can first try ignoring the undesirable behavior without feeling I am depriving her of connection. Only if that fails (which, thankfully — for now– is rare for us), might I try one of the connection techniques. Usually I’d say “If you need some help from Mama, I am here when you are ready to join me” and squat on the floor with my arms wide open. She typically comes and buries her face on my shoulder and gets her “healing cry” out.

      Hope that helps. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Great job mom! His face lite up when you offered a hug and that was precious. It hard to find the strength and patience sometimes. I lash back insteadof responding the way you did but I am working on it.
    Thanks for sharing something so personal.

    1. I wanted to add that I love how you took a moment to compose yourself with a sweet distraction. I want to come up with a little ritual for that. I just learned its okay to take a moment. I do not HAVE to respond immediately. I cried a little too. Thanks again.

      1. I know — we gotta put the oxygen mask on first, before we can assist others, right?!

        I head it from the CanDoKiddo blogger and both my husband and I have made it our mantra to help us compose ourselves when needed: “This is my / our moment to shine as parents.” I just say it in my head and know that I need to remain calm and model the good behavior / quiet voice / considerate words I expect too.

  10. I cried too! This was so helpful and so sweet and I really needed to see this today. Little reminders are really important to keep me on track. I love the way you said you knew he was having a hard time and he had run out of hugs. Perfect.

    Thanks so much Avital

  11. Thank you for sharing this. I really appreciated how you broke down the video to say what you were thinking ( like in the moment you knew you were triggered.) it helped to show the different parts of a disagreement and the process of thinking and mindfully connecting โค๏ธโค๏ธ

  12. This made me cry -I see that I’m not the only one who did. Thank you for sharing this, it is indeed so helpful to see a real-life situation.

  13. Thank you for share. This kind of reality is so very much needed. And I appreciate you showing how to just not be instantly reactive but stop and bring yourself to a calm space. I have 3 that are three and under and I think I too often give in to emotions and anger and need to stop and calm down first to see what my child needs. Easier said than done but we are all striving to be better day by day. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  14. Thank you! Absolutely beautiful! I cried too! The way your eldest face lit up when you hugged him. And the laughter afterwards. SO MUCH better than a time out. How could anyone possibly argue that? I think we just donโ€™t know, some of us just might not have the knowledge of the alternatives. I love your passion in educating the world! ๐ŸŒŽ And youโ€™re right, so much more related as a real life example. Great work Mommy!! You have an absolutely beautiful family.

  15. The smile on his face when he got a hug was so cute!

    Itโ€™s so hard when 3 in the same time are having a bad time. I can (unfortunately ๐Ÿ˜…) really relate tot this situation, and you did great!
    Just taking a deep breath and not responding straight away, giving ourself some time to rethink on how to respond… can make such a difference โค๏ธ

  16. This was absolutely amazing. It almost brought tears to my eyes! This makes me want to try this with my own kiddos because meal times are so difficult and usually end up with kiddos saying its gross or whatnot as well! Thank you so much Avital, you are an inspiration… its so wonderful to see that you are doing the best to be a peaceful parent and even though you aren’t perfect every time that makes it even better, because it feels more real…you are right there in the trenches of parent hood along with us not just preaching at us but practicing what you preach. I think it is so awesome that you are up front about how sometimes you don’t get it right and that is okay… Thank God for bringing your teachings to me, I have so much to learn!

  17. Might have been a quick relief for you, due to high emotional stress and not wanting to engage in correcting his behavior, but by no means is this preparing him for the real world scenarios of name-calling towards other. In my opinion, you brushed it off acting overly cavalier, instead of addressing his behavior. Itโ€™s doesn’t have to be extreme but appropriate for his actions and age. I donโ€™t feel your response was helping him. As a matter of fact, he continued demeaning you by calling you โ€œdumb momโ€ and by telling you that he wasnโ€™t confusing the words. He needs to understand the level of respect he should be having for his mother. Maybe he acts that way because heโ€™s taking you for granted because you coddle him too much or so on.. maybe if he stopped getting attention, he would act better. However way you choose to address the problem, laughing it off is not the way to go.

  18. I love to see more video your day to day. This is my everyday struggle and there is some time I will lose it and I would just leave the room. Thanks for this video.

  19. This actually made me cry, as I so desperately want to have the calmness and presence of mind to this, but I so so so often do not.

  20. Thank you and your children so much for sharing this! โค๏ธ I agree the way youโ€™re oldest boy lit up after a hug was heartwarming.

  21. Oh this video is so helpful!

    I am constantly working on being a playful parent/mum. It’s not easy all the time. Somedays it is but most days it’s hard. Humor is not my strong point. But it’s like after becoming a mum to twins I have realized (also with the help of my husband) that humor is essential. Thanks for reassuring me and helping me see its effects in your family.

    With love
    Another dumbmum!

  22. I needed to watch this. After a rough night (and frankly, a rough few weeks) with my older daughter who continues to push against boundaries, this reminder of what our young children really want and need from us in those moments was precisely what I needed to see and hear. Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable moment with the world and thank you for maintaining your composure so that we could all be reminded to connect before we correct. Kindness costs nothing yet we are often so maxed out that it is hard for us to dig deep and offer it to the ones who need it most when they are acting the least deserving of it.

  23. This is just so gorgeous, I also cried! Avital, thank you for being you, and thank you for helping me and and in doing so, my children too. We love you! Xxx

  24. Such a fantastic video, thank you to both yourself and your beautiful children for allowing us to see in to your lives. Thanks to finding your blog, I’m finally able to parent my child the way I’d always imagined. I always imagined myself being very strict, but also having a good relationship. I was being very strict, but not in a fun, loving and respectful way so our relationship suffered in the early years. I’m so pleased to say that today when my 3 yr old hit my 1 yr old, instead of scolding her (even though I felt like doing that!), I went to her and said “I think you might be getting cranky because you’re hungry, yeah?” and she said a very sad “Yes”. “Dinner will be ready very soon and we will eat together then. In the meantime would you like to eat some of my elbow? It’s very crunchy and delicious” Well, she giggled and it went on for a few minutes and tantrums were avoided. Hallelujah!!!

  25. My son calls me dumb a lot. I know he thinks Iโ€™m smart but just uses it as a put down when things arenโ€™t going his way. Iโ€™d love to learn how I can best respond besides saying thatโ€™s not very respectful.

  26. Big eye opener!

    The amount of times I have thought to my self, do all kids do this? Is it only my kids?
    This video helped me realise that the most amazing kids have these bad moments, and it doesn’t mean they are a “bad kid” they just need some love!

    A Little question I have,

    When you said you didn’t want to set the limit because you knew You did not have the emotional resources to handle a full-blown tantrum right then and there….
    If you did have the right emotional resources, how would of you set a limit?

    I’m assuming that’s if name calling is a continuous thing, especially to sibling who might not take it so well, a limit must be set?

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