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How To Teach Your Child To Have More Control Over Their Actions

Posted by Peter Fitzpatrick on Jun 03, 2024

Hi Parents!

Today I am going to show you how to teach your child to increase control over their actions.

For many kids, emotions rule their lives—this is particularly true for those with ADHD or anxiety. Feelings of happiness lead to good behavior, while sadness or frustration lead to poor behavior.

This isn’t a pleasant way to live. It makes being their parent tough. And, if carried through into adulthood, it makes being an adult tough (I know because I’ve lived it).

I learned this method from a good friend of mine, Seth Perler, an expert in executive function coaching for kids. If you haven’t checked him out, I recommend you join his newsletter. It’s 👌.

When parents get this wrong, it's often by focusing on what the child was thinking rather than what they were feeling. Feelings drive their actions far more than thoughts.

Without emotional awareness, your child will never have sufficient control over their actions

This issue shares a proven exercise for teaching your child to use emotional awareness to take better actions: a temperature check.

When To Use A Temperature Check

The best time to teach your child a temperature check is when talking to them about something challenging that happened recently: they were sent out of class, their feelings were hurt by a friend, they reacted violently towards a sibling, etc.

These are the best moments for two reasons: they precede the behavior you’re teaching your child to stop, and they are moments of the most intense feelings.

Your Step-By-Step Guide To Performing A Temperature Check With Your Child

Your objective is to get your child expressing how they felt immediately before the behavior you’re teaching them to change and then creating a plan to act differently in the future. Here's a script:

You: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how upset did you feel when that happened? 1 means calm and 10 means as upset as you've ever felt.”

Your Child: (Your child will respond with how they felt)

You: “Why was it that much?”

Your Child: (Your child will respond)

You: “I can see why you felt that way—it sounds tough. What would it take to increase the way you felt from [the number your child said they are on the scale] to [the number your child said they are on the scale plus 1] next time something like that happens?”

Your Child: (Your child will tell you)

You: “What can I do to help you get there?”

Life Long Skills

Do this exercise with your child and you’ll help them develop a skill they will use to be happy and successful for the rest of their life.
  • Understanding Emotions: They become aware of their feelings and create separation from them. This is huge. It’s not something I learned until my late twenties, which cost me a great deal.

  • Identifying Triggers: They understand what caused them to feel the way they did.

  • Planning for the Future: They create a plan to act differently in the future.

  • Validation and Support: Their feelings are validated, and they experience your love for them. This is invaluable.

If you're looking for more

If you’re interested in going deeper, I’ve got a couple more resources for you. Seth and I recorded a video on how you can create an AI chat to coach you and your child through a temperature check. Or, you can pre-order one of our robots for kids with ADHD or anxiety and start messaging with her to get coaching immediately.



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