07 June 2007


Looky here: a two-post day!

Halfmama's first post at parenting.com (Congrats on the gig, Halfmama!) reminded me of something that I've wanted to blog about for a while: HALT.

As I have mentioned before, for a couple of years running, I spent a lot of time in Al-Anon meetings. Anyone familiar with twelve-step programs knows that slogans run rife at meetings. There is a slogan for any and everything. As with everything said at an Al-Anon meeting, you take what you like and leave the rest.

My number-one slogan by far is HALT:


These are the top-four triggers for negative behavior. If I'm feeling in a foul mood, short-tempered, annoyed, fed-up, impatient, sad, or otherwise out of sorts, my ickiness can almost always be traced to one (or more) of these four sources. The same is true of my kids. When the are acting squirrely, the first thing I do is run through this list to try to identify what the source of their problem might be.

The good thing about this is that if I can identify the cause, I'm on my way to fixing it. Granted, some things are easier to fix than others. Hungry is the easiest one to remedy. Lonely? Not so much. But just having a label to put on my disquiet is a good step. When I'm short-tempered with the kids and I'm able to step back and figure out why, I try to be good about apologizing and saying, "I'm sorry I snapped; I'm feeling tired [hungry, lonely, angry] right now." They can't understand me right now, but I want to be in the habit of sharing my feelings with them for when they can understand, and I want them to practice naming their feelings, too.


Angela said...

Hi Snick, you are so great at analyzing and identifying your feelings, that's wonderful that you are sharing them out loud with the twins, it will definitely help them verbalize and share their own feelings as they grow older, you are such a wonderful Mom and role model for them, they are so very lucky to have you.

I still struggle to always share my own feelings, thank you for the HALT tip, I will definitely try and use it.

halfmama said...

Thank you for sharing that slogan (and for the congrats too :). I'm going to keep HALT in my memory bank! I try to apologize too when I am short-tempered with the kids for the same reasons (try is the key word though). I have a hard time not holding grudges and I really don't want to pass that on to my kids, so it's a good exercise for all of us.

Buddy is very atuned to my moods and if I'm being pissy, he follows me around and asks, "Mommy, you angry? Mommy, you happy? You happy with me? You angry with Bean?"

(Next exercise: teaching them about space!)

Yankee T said...

You are a wonderful mother. Wonderful. Lucky, lucky kids.
See you soon!

buddha_girl said...

I'm going to email the name of a GREAT book to you for the twins! It's all about emotions - with pictures so the kids can pick the emotion they're feeling without being able to verbalize it.

Two of my students are doing a buddy reading activity with two kindergarteners tomorrow, and they'll be reading THAT book. I'm so pissed because I can't remember the title. Argh!

The HALT thing will definitely help me during the next week - last week of school AND a visit from the mother in law.

OTRgirl said...

That's a good one. It might help me in the attempt not to avoid my emotions. (Just have to remember to apply it).

I love that you're already saying things like that to the twins. I can't wait to hear what their early sentences will be...I can picture the awed looks on day care providers' faces when Riley apologizes for his temper tantrum. ;-)

Indie Mama said...

Delurking to say thanks for the nice little tip. Having little tools like that helps you feel more prepared and (theoretically) in control of those bad moods (adult and toddler). = )

Glad you guys had a good day!

Melissa said...

I LOVE that! I've never heard it before ... but I'm going to adopt it for myself and my life. So true!

Now i'm off to get a snack!~


shauna said...

I had a good friend who first taught me that, but it's been a few years since I'd thought about it. It's a great approach to HALTing before you do something you might regret later. Thanks for the reminder!

Left Coast Sister said...

I love that HALT thing... I know when I'm impatient it's just because I'm going too fast for toddler time. Have you ever read/seen *raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child*... It's basically the book version of your post...

Sandra said...

What a great tip. Thanks for sharing it.

honglien123 said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. Definitely a tip I'll use.

Amy said...

Great advice, letting the kids know how you feel. I do the same with mine. I grew up with a parent that would go into 3 day silent rages (ignore us all). As adults my siblings and I were all amazed to learn we ALL felt responsible for the silences. Nope, HIS hang up.

So when I am having a crappy day I kindly let my kids know and reassure them it has nothing to do with them. Kids have a way of internalizing our moods. Best they know where we are coming from.

HALT is too true and I will remember it. Thank you.

kim said...

Wow, that seems so common sense to me but these things fly out of my head when there's a whining toddler nipping at my heels. Thanks for the great tip!

bg's Little Sis said...

Yes, I've heard HALT before too, and so true isn't it when you take the time to really think it through..thanks for sharing you ROCK!

bushelandapeck said...

Ah, wisdom you have.

Thanks for sharing. I'm a fellow mom and new blogger. I've looked at your blog a couple of times. I'll be checking it out more often.

I'll be putting HALT into practice.

Anonymous said...

Al-anon and its 12 steps to recovery program is a must to have in such a insane world that we live in. Check it out for your self!!!