Parenting with Love


Have you noticed that traditional parenting does not work with today’s youth? What can be done to parent a difficult child these days? What about kids who have abuse or trauma in their past?

The recent brain research in the past 10-15 years has been fascinating to explain what children need: Love and attachment. Children need attachment like they need oxygen. It is critically important for their healthy development.

The difficulty is keeping our own emotions regulated, so that our children can learn to regulate their emotions. It is only when a child is calm and feels safe that he can calm himself down. In the middle of a temper tantrum, it is important that the parent moves toward the child, with great calmness and respect, so that the child feels calmer, loved and attached to the parent.

When the parent yells or punishes the child, the child feels scared and detached from the parent. Not much learning occurs when a child is scared, because the wrong part of the brain is activated. Learning takes place in the cerebral cortex. The amygdala is the part of the brain in charge of the stress and anxiety. It is nearly impossible for the child to learn the lesson that you are trying to teach, if she is frightened and panicked.

When calm and relaxed, the parent gives empathy and connection, reassuring the child of the relationship and provides security and love, even in the midst of the child’s chaos. It is up to the parent to remain calm and relaxed, even when the child is screaming and defiant.

Screaming or yelling at a child who is acting out of control, is like throwing water on a grease fire. It spreads the problem. Long term, it produces the opposite effect of what is trying to be achieved. A child who is acting out is scared out of his mind. Literally. He is not feeling safe, connected, with a calm desire to please his parents. It is the parents job to create a safe, loving environment in which the child can calm down, not be so terrified, and learn something new.

Children naturally want to please their parents. If you don’t believe this, it could be due to your own trauma in your own childhood. Perhaps your parents yelled and screamed at you. Perhaps you think that this is the only way to get through to your child. You are wrong.

Over time, if you work on your side of the parent/child relationship, staying calm in the face of chaos, disrespect, out-of-control children, your child will also calm down and behave better.  When calm, you are teaching your child by example how to control strong emotions.

If you need some help with your parenting, please give me a call. I know I can teach you new ways to interact with your child, with calm, peaceful responses to his outbursts.

I look forward to serving you.

J. Faith Gallup, LCSW

anxiety resources

helpful websites

  • TroubledWith: Stress
    Excellent collection of resources on dealing with anxiety disorders, as well as when and how to seek treatment.
  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA)
    National, non-profit membership organization dedicated to informing the public, healthcare professionals and legislators about anxiety disorders, promote the early diagnosis, treatment and cure of anxiety disorders, and improve the lives of the people who suffer from them.
  • Freedom From Fear
    National not-for-profit mental health advocacy association developed to impact, in a positive way, the lives of all those affected by anxiety, depressive and related disorders through advocacy, education, research and community support.