30 Aug 2016


Loving past the behavior means offering your child your unconditional love regardless of their behavior. Showing your child that they are lovable even when they are struggling, frustrated or upset.

Get Calm – As the adult, it’s up to you to keep yourself calm. This is not easy. Do what you need to do; take a deep breath, repeat a positive mantra, focus on loving your child not punishing them. Take a break if you need one, but return to your child as soon as possible.

Hold On – When your child shows big emotions, you need to be prepared. Helping your child calm down may take time. While you’re waiting, it might help to repeat something like, “It’s ok for him to feel angry” or “Frustration is normal for a toddler.”

Reach Out – If your child likes physical affection, offer to give him a hug or snuggle. Rub his back or suggest that she give you a squeeze as “big as her anger.” If your child refuses, stay present and let them know that you’re ready to give a hug when they’re ready.

Remind Gently – When your child is having a tantrum or is frustrated, they may be feeling out of control. Use a calm tone saying, “you’re safe” or “I’m here” or “It’s ok to be angry” or “It’s fine to cry.” You can also remind them, “I love you. Even when you’re mad.”

Talk Later – People can’t think logically or rationally when they are in a highly charged emotional state. Resist the urge to ask, “why are you acting this way?” or “what’s the matter?” Instead, process the event later when everyone is calm.

Stick With It – There are times when it seems like your presence or support isn’t making a difference. Or maybe you’re tired. Feel unsupported or frustrated. Those are all normal feelings. However, the message you send through this one parenting strategy speaks volumes to your child (even if they never acknowledge it): You are worthy of love.

When your child is acting out, they are sending the message that they are feeling out-of-control. They do not have the skills or strategies to do any better in the moment. They need your help.

You do not have to love the behavior. You do not have to love being with them when they are throwing a tantrum. But, you do love your child.

Nicole Schwarz. LOVE PAST THE BEHAVIOR. Imperfect Families Online. 2015; [cited. 2015 Jan 19]; [1 screen]. Available at URL:

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