Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Nuking the moon to feel better

Why trying to control your child's emotions is futile, and how to instead use your "words as medicine" to calm them down...without telling them to calm down.

In 1949, Armour Research Foundation in America started a research program to determine how to detonate a nuke on the moon.

Their plan was to detonate a big enough nuke so that it could be seen from Earth, in order to "boost the morale of the American people".

Luckily, in 1959, the project was cancelled due to fears that it would make it impossible to colonize the moon.

I found this little tidbit this morning while browsing Wikipedia.

I was browsing Wikipedia to get away from a tantrum my 6 year old son was throwing. He wanted to watch TV, and I wanted him to eat breakfast. We could not get to a compromise, and it ended in him screaming, and me reading about nuking the moon.

Sometimes, no matter what I do, I cannot stop my child from having an emotional outburst.

But one of the most useful things I have learnt as a parent is to realize that it is not my job to stop my child's emotions. It is not my job to cheer them up when they are sad, or calm them down when they are angry.

Sometimes they just have strong feelings that need to get out. Sometimes they just need to nuke the moon to feel better.

Instead of trying to control my children's emotions, I now focus on helping them identify their feelings. Instead of telling how they should feel, I help them find out how they actually feel.

What I've found is that doing this often calms them down much faster than if I try to tell them to calm down.

Because, how often have you calmed down when you are upset and someone tells you to just "calm down"?

We recently interviewed one of the US’s leading parenting experts, Jennifer Kolari, for our book "How To Get Kids To Listen".

In the interview, Jennifer, shared a technique she developed to connect with your child when they are upset, to understand what they are really saying and feeling, and to calm them down...without telling them to calm down.

She calls this technique the "C.A.L.M. technique", and in our interview she explained how you can use this technique to "to deeply attune to what your child is feeling, and to work very hard to understand what they're saying and what they're feeling, instead of trying to convince them that you're right."

She says:

It's basically using language and words as medicine. And then when you're able to do that, what happens is oxytocin and opiates and natural endorphins flood the brain, biochemically calming your child down, and moving them towards healthy compliance.

Jennifer Kolari

According to Jennifer, using this technique to connect with your child will make it much easier to get them to cooperate with you, saving you time and end up being less stressful.

In the full interview, Jennifer also shares three listening techniques that you can use to make it clear to your child that you consider their viewpoint important, which makes it much more likely that they will also listen to what you have to say.

You can find the full interview with Jennifer Kolari - How use the “C.A.L.M. Technique” to turn your language and words into “medicine” that calms your child and helps them cooperate - here.

Talk soon

Matt & Sue Meintjes