Why can't my child listen to reason when he's upset?

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Why can't my child listen to reason when he's upset?

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When my child is upset and won't listen to reason, it's because the part of his brain that works with reason is not working very well. A much better response than using logic and reason, when a child is having this type of emotional tsunami, is to connect first and then redirect. In connecting, what we want to connect emotionally with lots of non-verbal communication, like wrapping our arms around them, taking a nice calm breath ourselves, rubbing their arms, and using a nurturing tone of voice. Use a nurturing face and say, "It seems like things can be really hard sometimes, can't they?" Then we can re-direct and talk about setting boundaries or problems, these kinds of things. Logic and reason works once we've connected emotionally and non-verbally through touch.

Watch Video: Why can't my child listen to reason when he's upset? by Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, ...

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Tina Payne Bryson, PhD

Psychotherapist & Author

Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, is a psychotherapist at Pediatric and Adolescent Psychology Associates in Arcadia, California, where she sees children and adolescents, as well as provides parenting consultations. She is the school counselor at St. Marks Episcopal School in Altadena, CA, and a Developmental Consultant to Camp Chippewa for Boys. She speaks to parents, educators, and clinicians all across the country. Dr. Bryson earned her PhD from the University of Southern California, where her research explored attachment science, childrearing theory, and the emerging field of interpersonal neurobiology. Her best-selling book The Whole-Brain Child (co-authored with Dr. Dan Siegel) gives parents practical ways to transform difficult moments into opportunities for children to thrive.  Dr. Bryson has written for a large number of publications, most recently the PBS series “This Emotional Life.”  She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and three children.  

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