Photo by Rachel Hadiashar
HALT is a concept we use in Positive Discipline, originally coined by Alcoholics Anonymous.
It stands for:
In my work with families, I add an S on the end to stand for
The idea is: if you or your children are experiencing a HALT it is extremely difficult,
and sometimes even impossible, to behave positively.
When misbehavior is occurring in your house, check those vitals.
Are you or your children in need of food, positive emotional outlets for life's challenges, connection, sleep, or support to get well?
Meet the need and transform the misbehavior!
Does your behavior, or your child's behavior, have a root cause in an unmet basic need?
If so, how can you meet that need as quickly and gently as possible?
One way to do this it lower your expectations for yourself and your children, to give your family permission to be human, and to nurture while you are meeting the basic need.
Think of yourself with unmet basic needs as having the developmental capabilities of a teenager, and your children having the capabilities of an infant. Give yourself a break as you would a young person, and nurture your children like you did when they were infants by responding swiftly and gently to their unmet needs.
Getting food in a hungry child or a young one off to bed asap--and letting go of the behavior is a great gift and skill. You can always come back to the behavior to reflect and problem solve after the basic needs are met.
For you as parent, recognize how your behavior, patience, and shortness may be influenced by needing to eat, get more sleep, have connection with yourself or support in your life, sickness, or having unmet emotional need.
Two of the most difficult human emotions to work with are loneliness and anger. They require a great deal of ability to see clearly--to have awareness of-- the reality of the situation and challenge at hand, and then to have compassion for yourself and your children.
I call this duo of awareness + compassion, being a Gentle Observer to your life. Bringing awareness to challenging and painful feelings is the first step to change. The next step is to become your inner cheerleader or best friend. Becoming a Gentle Observer is the #1 way to bring the change you are looking for to your life.
If your children are feeling lonely, that often means they are feeling disconnected from you.
The two main ways to reconnect with your children is through:
1) Positive physical touch and close proximity
(Touch is the only sense humans can't live without.
As such, positive touch is a powerful tool and a gift in discipline.)
2) Quality time together.
It sounds simple:
Your child is misbehaving. You have a gut feeling that your child needs to connect with you.
You go over and give a hug to your child, have them sit on your lap, or put on hand on her/his shoulder.
The reality is: if your child is misbehaving, there's a good chance it's triggering to you. If you go to reconnect with your child, and you're feeling angry, irritated, frustrated, or resentful, chances are slim that your reconnection with them through touch will be positive.
If you're noticing (through that power of being a Gentle Observer) that your child is misbehaving, and your gut says, this is a connection issue!--but you're having difficulty reconnecting with your child, then this is a great time to get outside support.
Talking with a friend, family member, or other respected person in your life, reaching out for help through a parenting Facebook group, or seeking the help of a trained professional are all ways to support you in meeting your children's needs for connection. These are the type of challenges parents in my Calm + Confident Parent face and successfully transform through our work together. There is hope!
If you're feeling lonely in your life, and have unmet needs for connection, the first step is often to develop your self-care practice, which can be so difficult as a busy parent. How can you bring more into your daily life that makes you happy, nurtures you, brings you joy, and affirms connection with yourself?
When you are in connection with you, you will naturally feel a sense of connection with your children and the other people in your life. There are definitely times and circumstances in life that leave us feeling more lonely. During these times, the most important thing to remember is that you are worthy of the connection and you support you seek, to feel confident and secure in who you are, and then to reach out and stay open to the support and connection you need. You are never alone!
Working with anger is the #1 or #2 most challenging emotion parents face. Why?
Because most of us did not grow up with adults who supported or modeled healthy, positive outlets to release and express anger.
Here's some key ideas to provide a new framework to understand anger:
* Anger is your fire. It's powerful. Humans can't survive without fire, and yet we don't want to burn the house down! It's all about learning how to use fire (and our anger) responsibly.
* Anger is essential to humans because it tells us when we feel safe, and when we don't.
And anger let's us know when there are injustices in the world, and when all is well. It's so important that we develop a positive relationship with this fire within us.
* Anger is usually a secondary emotion. Grief and sadness are often the root causes of anger. A child who is gently supported with clear boundaries when say, hitting will often move into crying and/or want a hug as the strong emotion is moving through.
How to begin to work with anger:
* Become that gentle observer to compassionately understand the details of anger in your home. Notice without judgement of good or bad, and with an empathetic heart for the often challenging life experiences surrounding anger.
* Think of anger in terms of healthy, positive outlets to express. Most people need to do something physical to move the anger through. Jumping up and down, running in place, hitting or screaming into a pillow, stepping outside, and remembering to keep breathing deeply are all some positive expressions of anger.
* Develop your anger plan. After you've gently observed anger in your home, come up with a few ideas that you or your children would like to try out to move the anger through. Develop your plan in a moment of calm in your home. Developing your plan when you or your children are angry usually doesn't work. Having your plan in place ahead of time and practicing it is a way to bring the plan alive and into reality in your home.
* How long have you been feeling angry or has your child been demonstrating a negative expression of anger? Maybe a long while? So give this new plan some time to sink in. Change is always possible, but it doesn't always happen over-night. Be patient and supportive of you and your children. You're doing huge work!
In conclusion, remember HALTS!
* Next time your child is misbehaving (or you are!), remember to check those vitals.
* Meet the basic need to transform misbehavior.
* To work with the more challenging emotions of loneliness and anger,
utilize the power and gift of being a Gentle Observer.
* The dynamic duo of Awareness + Compassion is your road to the change you're looking for.
* Creating a new pattern takes time, so be realistic in your expectations
and celebrate when you and your children take baby steps in the right direction.
* Finally, if you need more support--know that you are worthy of the help you need.
Reach out to a friend, family, or respected family member.
And feel free to contact me to set-up a complentary, exploratory session to
the Calm + Confident Parenting Program.
Wishing you and your family all the best-- and basic needs that are met!
Hi friends, I write from the heart to tell my life story, and the story of those in my neighborhood called life. Research shows that our children's emotional & mental health is contingent upon us parents being able to tell our life story, or "coherent narrative." This is my coherent narrative, my life story in the making, with some of what I love in life too. My goal is to share my life in a way that is real, uplifting & positive- sometimes serious, sometimes fun. In my practice, I inspire parents to empowerment through reclaiming our life stories and learning respectful discipline. My work is my offering to our children- our future. Wishing you all a happy family!