When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 5


Preventing The Parent Shut Down

It is very easy to give into the temptation of shutting down yourself as a parent. We have seen movies where a child goes into their room and slams the door, only to be followed by a parent retreating to their own room and slamming the door. A parent who has shut down can also be heard uttering phrases like, “fine”, “whatever”, or “do what you want.” We have to be so careful not sink to our children’s level; even if you feel like giving up because you don’t know what else to do.

So what are some things we can do to prevent the parent shutdown? The first is to make sure to keep proper perspective. Remember that this is only a small battle to win the war for your child’s heart. It is temporary. Second, make sure to stick to your parenting plan. Remind yourself, and your child, of the pre-established consequences. Third, STAY CALM, if you feel yourself beginning to loose it emotionally take a breath or a “time out” yourself. I have known many a mom to sit in the bathroom alone for a moment to regain composure. Finally, make sure that you are setting aside time to replenish yourself. Make sure that you are getting time to yourself, time with others for encouragement and setting aside time to grow spiritually.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 5 2018-04-05T09:11:46+00:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 4


The Middle/High School Years

For a parent, the thought of a teenager shutting down may cause some anxiety. “What happens when they are bigger then I am and I can’t physically make them follow my instructions?” “What do I do when they refuse to follow the rules?” There have been many times I have had to sit outside a bathroom door with one of our residential girls who had shut down and didn’t want to come out. Or sat out side and talked with a boy who didn’t want to work. It seems the key with preventing a shut down in the teen years is relationship. Always pursue relationship with your teen. Just like younger children there are warning signs that a shut down may come. We need to pay attention as parents to those warning signs and pursue our children relationally. In those instances with the teens in the residential homes the thing that brought them out of the shut down was relationship, sitting and talking. Most of the time the shut down started because they felt misunderstood or that no one cared. Even though the teen years are packed with busy schedules make sure to set aside time for your teen weekly. Always pursue relationship.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 4 2018-04-05T09:10:31+00:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 3


The Elementary Years

Once your child passes the toddler years the likelihood of a total shutdown lessens. In fact if a shut down happens, as your child gets older, it can serve as a warning sign. It’s like one of those lights on your dash bored that alerts you that there is a problem with your car. The problem can vary anywhere from you need to fill your car with gas, to there is something wrong with the engine. It is an alert that you need to pay attention to.   When older kids shut down we need to investigate the why. What is going on behind the behavior? Things to ask yourself, is there inconsistency in handing out consequences for behavior, so that when one is handed out a battle ensues? Is it time to revamp or create a parenting plan? Am I hovering or being a helicopter parent and not allowing my child to “exercise their choice”, the “E” in the ICE plan? Is something going on with my child emotionally, at school or home? Is the possibly attention seeking behavior? These are just a few examples of the reasons your child may be shutting down. For more information on the ICE plan click here and for our week-long series on signal behavior click here.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 3 2018-04-05T09:02:57+00:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 2



When we think of a child shutting down we inevitably think of those toddler years. My mom and I have often laughed and said to each other, “it’s a good thing that God makes toddlers so cute”. They are so awesome, cute and pudgy, exploring everything with wonder; but even the most laid back of toddlers can have days that may give you gray hairs. The first thing we must remember is we cannot give in to the shut down. I once watched a father little girl in the mall, who had moved past the temper tantrum and was laying face down on the floor in front of Build a Bear. He had told her that they we not going to buy one today. I watched to see how he would handle the pressure of the onlookers. He was unfazed and simply sat down on the floor next to his daughter and calmly handled the situation. He was able to get her up off the floor and didn’t give in to her demands for a new toy. I wanted to cheer! It is so easy to allow your child to win because of the embarrassing situation that toddlers can put you in.

There are times where by simply staying one step ahead we can avoid the shutdown all together. Especially when out and about having snacks or something to entertain the child can help dramatically. It doesn’t have to be digital entertainment either; magna-doodles saved many a grocery trip in our house. Be wise in your timing of things for example don’t run errands around lunch or nap time. Realize that a lot of this can be attention seeking behavior so having something the are engaged in during dinner prep can help. Utilize distractions when you can. When my son is headed for a meltdown in his car seat my husband often has him look for airplanes or count birds. Make sure to use both consequences and rewards.

For more listen to today’s podcast and we have an entire week long series on toddlers you can check out by clicking here.


When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 2 2018-04-05T09:01:47+00:00

When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 1


What Does This Look Like?

We have all seen a parent, or been the parent, with the child in the mall or the grocery store that is just done. They are past the point of a temper tantrum and are lying face down on the floor trying to make themselves as stiff as a board. What about the teen who flat refuses to follow instructions or do anything for that matter? They aren’t budging! These situations can make a parent panic because they can be embarrassing or we may not feel equipped to handle this level of behavior.

This week we are going to look at how to handle those moments when a child shuts down. Are there some things we can do when we start noticing things going down hill to prevent a “shut down”, if so what are they? What are these signal behaviors that we can look for? We are going to spend this week looking for how to predict and then prevent a shut down.



When Your Child Shuts Down | Part 1 2018-04-05T09:00:37+00:00

Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 5


When We Are All Dealing With Pain

When a whole family is coping with pain it is easy for the parent to deal with their own pain one of two ways.   Either you can become completely self-focused in an attempt to cope with your pain or you can become completely others focused and avoid your pain.  We need to find a balance.  As parents we need to balance working through a painful situation and helping our children work through it as well.  If we are trying to deal with a very painful event as a family, such as a loss of a loved one or divorce, it may even be wise to seek counsel.  Outside help can allow us as parents work through our emotions so we can be there for our kids in these difficult situations.

We also have to be careful as parents to find the balance of modeling our faith through difficult situations in front of our children and confiding in them.  We cannot place the burden of our pain on our children. We can however, set the example by praying together as a family for the painful situations.  Remember, never be afraid to seek godly counsel when you are unsure how to deal with your pain or how to help your child cope with theirs.



Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 5 2018-03-28T10:26:17+00:00

Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 4


Steps To Help

When you have noticed that your child is giving you signs that they are in pain, what do you do next?  First, like we said yesterday, be intentional to set up a time to communicate with your child. This could look different depending on the age of your child.  Most children, but especially young children talk more easily if they are distracted by something.  Meaning it probably wont work to sit down on the couch and attempt to have a heart to heart with your 4 year old.  However, sitting with them while they are playing and beginning to ask questions will help them to open up.  “I noticed you are very quiet today, are you sad about something?” etc.  Even working with the middle school girls in the residential home at Sheridan House, I found it helpful to have stuffed animals or squishy pillows on the couch in my office.  The girls would tend to open up more if they could have something to do with their hands.  I could even evaluate where they were emotionally at times by how hard they would squish the pillows.  If you sense with your older child or teen that something major is going on, taking them to a neutral environment may help.  A great neutral environment is somewhere you can get a snack, like ice cream, because again having something to do with your hands really helps.  Make sure to check back up in 24 hours so your child knows that their pain is on your heart and mind.  Make sure to take the time to pray with your child about their situation, as well.  Teaching them to see God’s hand through the hurt is another invaluable lesson.



Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 4 2018-03-28T10:25:10+00:00

Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 3


Opening The Door For Communication

After we have dealt with our availability to talk to our child, we need to figure out how to get them to talk.  This may or may not be a difficult thing depending on the personality of the child, some you may have more difficulty getting to stop talking.  Learning to talk through painful or difficult situations is so important for our children because it teaches them how to work through so many things.  For example our children can learn, how to deal with failure, being laughed at, injustice, difficult people, rejection, ridicule, and with bullies. Helping our children process through these situations will help them immeasurably for the future.

So how do we do it? Unlocking your child’s heart takes time.  Like we said yesterday it’s listening to the small stuff so you can be trusted with the big stuff.  We must carve out ample time with each of our children especially if they are in pain.  Take the time to take them out on “dates” individually.  Sit on the edge of their bed at night.  Take advantage of drive times.  Make sure you are fitting time for your children to talk into the busyness of the family schedule.



Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 3 2018-03-28T10:24:05+00:00

Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 2


Am I Available?

There is a quote by Catherine Wallace, which has impacted me as a mom of young children, “Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what.  If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they wont tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff..”  There are so many times where it is so easy to get busy with life and brush off things that we don’t deem important but we forget how important the little things may be to our children.  We may get tired of answering the “whys” or listening to the middle school “drama” but listening to all the small stuff allows our children to know that they can come to us with the big stuff.  When our response is “that’s not a big deal” or “when I was your age” it can make our children feel like we don’t’ understand what they are going through.  There may be times that we need to stop what we are doing, sit down and make sure that they know we take them seriously.  Whether that is eye contact with your small child when they are asking a question or going for a drive for some “one on one time” with your older child who needs to talk.  Make sure to be intentional to communicate that you are always available for them to talk.




Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 2 2018-03-28T10:22:59+00:00

Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 1


Observing Your Child’s Moods

It is easy for us to see if our children don’t feel good physically.  They show physical symptoms of sickness, runny nose, fever, coughing; but what about if our child is in emotional pain?  Each child may have a different way to tell us they are in pain, due to age and personality differences.   Some older children who are outspoken may immediately get into the car after school and be able to verbalize that they got into an argument with their friend and are upset.  Another child may get into the car and be quiet and sullen.  There may be even another child who suffers more silently and you have to really observer their behavior to see that they are hurting.  This is where it is imperative that we become students of our children even from a young age to learn their individual “tells’ that something is bothering them emotionally.

Check back this week as we continue this discussion on noticing your child’s pain.



Noticing Your Child’s Pain | Part 1 2018-03-28T10:21:25+00:00