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Fighting fire with fire?

May 5, 2011

A Great Idea …

“Usually, when children find it difficult to cope, they become angry and blame others for their predicament, which usually enrages their parents, who then blame their children and say things they later regret, without solving the problem.” (Haim Ginott, Child Psychologist, in his book, Between Parent and Child, p. 16)

In Other Words …

Children regularly face challenges that overwhelm them. We can get mad at them—we can blame them for blaming their problems on others—or we can help them. The first step in helping them cope is to show compassion. When we are patient and understanding, they learn many important lessons: it is normal to get frustrated, strong feelings can be managed, people are here to help you.

How This Applies to You …

Next time your child gets upset, take a moment to calm yourself before doing anything else. It will be difficult to help your child cope with feelings if you are struggling with your own. Try to express what your child is feeling. You could say, “You are angry because your toy was broken,” or, “You’re sad because it’s time to come inside.” See if you can describe the child’s pain in a way that helps him or her feel understood and safe.

To Find Out More …

For an excellent (and free) program on parenting, see The Parenting Journey at and if your children are younger than six, check out See the World Through My Eyes.

For more in-depth reading, we recommend Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott or Soft-Spoken Parenting by H. Wallace Goddard.

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