Child in Bloom

“Name it to Tame it” written by Abby Hottle SLP and Renee Mattson  M.Ed.


“Name it to Tame it”

It’s a phrase coined by Dr. Daniel Siegle, author of The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline and co-founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. Name it to tame it is a great strategy to help your child conquer and identify with their big emotions. Are they feeling scared? Are they angry? This is where you can come in an create a meaningful, teachable moment to support your child by identifying what he or she is feeling. The act of being able to put a name on a big emotion is therapeutic and healing.

Consider helping your child come to the conclusion on their own, for example, thinking out loud by saying something such as, “I wonder if you’re feeling scared about going back to school?” or “It sounds like you are feeling mad.”  or “I can see from your face (or body language) that you are sad.”

For some children who have more challenges understanding and using a lot of language, offer less words. For example, “You’re mad!”

Remember that it can be tricky to process a lot of words at a time when a child is experiencing a big emotion.  This can happen even when they are super excited.
Try to cater your language to their specific needs.

Name it to tame it works best after connecting with your child.
First Offer a hug, a gentle touch, or some sort of physical touch.
Then Name it to Tame it.

Name it to tame it also applies to behavior. Let’s name the behavior and increase the child’s awareness and understanding of what they are doing. For example,
We don’t “talk nasty.”
We don’t ” grab toys”
We don’t “have hurtful hands”

Without naming it we end up running in circles, and generalities that we can’t exactly pinpoint.
Without pinpointing we are not able to zero in on what it is we do not want to happen anymore.

The same can be true when we are trying to identify what we want…

Be Nice
Be a Good Boy
Be Kind

These are all honorable expectations but way too general for little ones to understand.
So next time specifically name what it is you are looking for.

We use kind words to talk to our family and get what we need.

We wait our turn instead of grabbing toys from our friends.

We use our hands to play and show what we need but never to hurt.

The same is true for naming routines or special things you do with your family.
If there is a specific name for the routine or special activity we are much more likely to hold to it and follow through on doing it regularly. The naming of it helps us to hold tight to it – name it, tame it… claim it!  When we name what we want or don’t want from our kids it is easier to function as a family.

Remember naming it is the first step, and  then you really need to
Teach Model and Practice new things to do in an effort to replace the old behavior.

Name it.
Teach it.
Model it.
Practice it.
Replace the old named behavior with the new named behavior!


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