Posts tagged Get Rid of Guilt
You know that feeling of panic that shows up when your child does certain things? It’s that feeling that shouts at you, “You need to nip that in the bud!!” or “Don’t let him get away with that!”
When your little one lies, you envision her in jail, the next Martha Stewart. When your three-year-old hits, you have visions of your child’s eighth-grade principal calling you to let you know she’s just expelled your little bully. When your little one is bossy or whiny or tattle-taling, or cries every time they get the tiniest bump, you worry that your child will grow up, lonely and miserable, with no friends at all.
That paragraph probably made you laugh, and realize how ridiculous these thoughts are, but for most parents, the feelings in the moment are very real, and those thoughts and feelings tend to cause us to overreact and then question our choices about how we responded to the behaviour.
Once you understand where the thoughts come from, it will be easier to figure out how to respond peacefully to your child’s behaviour. Read on.
There are two main causes of this feeling of panic.
First, if you’re like most parents, you are pretty committed to sharing certain key values with your child, especially the ones you have built your life and your identity on. When your child does something that is out of alignment with these key values, it can shake us to the core. “Oh my God!” our mind shouts at us, “If you can’t even teach THIS basic thing to your child, what kind of parent are you?” This hits us right in our self-image, and so we desperately feel like we need to do something drastic, STOP the behaviour, and make sure it never happens again.
We can also be triggered by behaviours that remind us of our own painful experiences, and make us want to protect our children from the same experience. If we were bossy and friendless in junior high school, or if we learned some other lesson the hard way, we don’t want our child to hurt like we did, so we feel a desperate desire to protect them from the pain and to teach them the lesson ourselves – before they get hurt.
I get that certain behaviours are just so serious for us, as adults, that when our children do these behaviours, it feels pretty important to send a clear message and make sure it NEVER happens again. But the key here is that these behaviours are serious FOR ADULTS. Your child is still exploring boundaries, experimenting with what is acceptable, discovering her personality, learning the difference between reality and fantasy, and/or learning how to manage big feelings and act on them in ways that are helpful, not hurtful.
And he or she will learn all of these things more easily if your emotional reaction isn’t clouding your delivery of the message around that certain behaviour.
When we respond to our three-year-old as if he is an ax murderer in the making, with an intense emotional response, with punishment, or by otherwise getting really, really attached to eliminating the behaviour RIGHT NOW, we miss the opportunity to address the actual developmental process that is happening for our child, and we miss out on a lot of joy.
In truth, (good news ahead!) everything that your child does now is NOT a harbinger of impending disaster, failure, and misery, in your child’s future!
Parents ask me all the time, “Is this normal? Am I the only one whose child (hits, whines, lies, etc)? My answer, 98% of the time, is “YES!” 98% of the time it is, really and truly, just a phase. In fact, it is a very important phase that the child needs to experience in order to become the honest, responsible, non-violent adult with friends that you hope they will become!
Remember that children need to do exactly what they are doing right now in order to learn exactly what they need to learn in order to take next steps towards becoming the person they are meant to be. And how you respond to the behaviour makes it easier or harder for them to learn it.
If you can respond peacefully, addressing the child’s emotional issue, underlying problem, or developmental question, instead of focusing on simply eliminating the anti-social behaviour, your child will move through the emotion, problem, or developmental stage that is causing the behaviour much more quickly.
When you come at it with the idea of “nipping it in the bud,” most often what you’re nipping in the bud is not the behaviour, it’s the child’s learning process. In fact, if your child has tried out a new behaviour, he or she is much more likely to repeat that behaviour if YOU give the behaviour power by responding to it with a big emotional charge.
So, the first step is to take a step back, figure out whether it’s a values thing or a protection thing, and compassionately recognize what’s going on for you. For example:
“Honesty is an important value for me. I want to teach that to my child. This behaviour triggers me.”
“Wow. I was really bossy growing up and it didn’t go well for me. I’m scared that if I don’t handle this, my child will lose friends like I did.”
The second step is to reassure yourself.
“Lisa Kathleen said that there’s a good chance that lots of children do this behaviour and outgrow it. My child is going to be okay. I need to develop a strategy to address this behaviour effectively so that I can help my child to learn another way to address his/her emotion/problem/developmental need.”
The third step is to respond thoughtfully and unemotionally to the behaviour.
“You really wanted another cookie, so you told me you didn’t have one yet. You really want it to be true that you didn’t have a cookie already!”
“You really want Suzy to be the little girl in your game! You want to be the mommy in your game!”
“Honesty is important so we can all trust each other’s words.”
“People don’t like being told what to do all the time. People like being invited to do something.”
If you do this, instead of “nipping it in the bud”, you will give your child what he or she needs to blossom and grow. <3
Need some help figuring out what’s going on developmentally for your child, or how to shift your energy around your child’s trigger behaviours? Give me a call to ask about coaching! I’d love to help! 403-607-1463
Discipline is the part of parenting that parents hate most. If you read my last blog post, about how much control you “should” have over your child, you’ll see the first reason why parents hate discipline so much – it’s because they don’t have clarity around what they do have control over, and what they don’t.
But the biggest reason that parents hate discipline is that our culture is not good at conflict. We think everything should always be nice-y nice-y. We don’t get passionate about what we believe or how we feel because we don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to be perceived as trying to control anyone else. AND since we think discipline means punishment, we don’t want to be seen as the big meanie, so we feel resentful when our children push us to “have to” punish them.
What a mess.
First, we need to rethink that whole discipline-punishment thing. (Go HERE to find out more or register for my upcoming Discipline Without Guilt class.) What if, for a very young child, discipline just means that the child hasn’t developed the internal discipline to control his or her own impulses? Well, then, if we feel peaceful about being there to clearly show them where those impulses need to develop, and to be those impulses for them, aren’t we HELPING, not hurting? Punishment is when you hurt your child, ON PURPOSE, to teach them a lesson. What if, for an older child, discipline means supporting the child, in a less and less overt way, to determine what matters to them, and where they want to develop inner discipline, and to take the steps to help them develop that? Since we know that punishment doesn’t work to do this, anyway, what if we just dropped that mindset and focused on our actual goal?
Second, we need to develop clarity around what things, FOR US, are important enough to justify stepping in to consistently help our young child see clearly where those impulses need to develop, and readjust this yearly, as our child grows.
And, more and more, especially for an older child, we need to develop skills around understanding, problem-solving, coaching, and ***advocating for our own needs***.
“Oh, shit,” I hear you say, “I’m bad at that.”
Yeah, I know. Me, too.
But, here’s the thing. When you practice, you get better. You stop being afraid that someone else will flip/tantrum/be sad/meltdown, and you start standing in your own power (such an overused phrase, but exactly what I need to say) and declare what matters to you, while still respecting what’s going on for them, AND doing what you need to do to be the parent your child needs, from a place of heart, clarity, purpose, and love.
I’d love to help you bring this all together!
Discipline Without Guilt starts April 11th, 2015. Find out more HERE.
Here’s to you. Here’s to your child. Here’s to peace in your parenting, and solutions that work for both of you.
I would love to share Discipline Without Guilt with you, and help you find a new groove. Check it out here.
Okay, I’m just going to blurt it out.
The bottom line is, we get mad at our kids because we think they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and because we think that, if they are doing what they are doing, it means that we are bad parents.
Here’s how it works:
The child doesn’t listen to us. We think they should, and we assume that since they didn’t, we have done something wrong – we are bad parents. When the thought arrives that we must be bad parents, we resent our child for making it so clear to us that we are bad parents. Finally, we get mad and lash out at them, because if they did what we want them to do, we wouldn’t feel like bad parents. Then we feel guilty for lashing out, and we backpedal and cater and fix it for them – to convince them that they aren’t bad, and to convince ourselves that we aren’t either. Often, it all happens in a split second, and by the end of it, EVERYONE feels bad.
The problem with this whole vicious cycle is that it is based on faulty logic in the first place. When your child does whatever he does that you don’t like, it does not follow that someone has to be bad.
Most of us grew up in cultures that evaluated, judged, compared, and rated us, all the time. We were told to be “good” and most disagreements between children ended up with a good guy and a bad guy. So, it’s not surprising that EVEN THOUGH we know in our hearts that our kids aren’t bad, it’s hard to get our heads around the idea that we aren’t bad, either. Because the culture we grew up in taught us to choose: “Someone has to be wrong here, and someone has to be right.” When we’re upset, our thoughts run wild, and we waffle back and forth between, “He’s bad,” and “I’m bad.”
Let me hold your hand and tell you something, straight from my heart.
You are not a bad parent when your child doesn’t listen to you. Your child is not a bad kid, either.
Now, let’s reframe this whole situation starting with a different basic premise.
Let’s start from the truth – that your child is doing EXACTLY what he needs to be doing in order to learn what he needs to learn to move successfully through his current developmental process, with his or her personality.
Your two year-old MUST resist and say “no” as she discovers that she is not you. Your 3 year-old MUST experience overwhelming emotions, in order to learn how to manage those big feelings that come in life. Your 4 year-old MUST intentionally not listen, in order to find out where he has power to choose and where he does not. Your 5 year-old MUST experiment with saying Really Mean Things in order to discover his own power to hurt, and to heal, another.
“But,” you say, “My friend’s 2, or 3 or 4 or 5 year-old doesn’t do those things!!”
Not every child is alike. The developmental processes are the same, but every personality experiences those developmental needs differently. A more outgoing personality with a need for intensity and leadership potential will explore with power differently than a more introspective personality with a need for quiet and a love for being part of a team.
Your child, in order to develop his or her potential, strengths and self-knowledge, MUST do EXACTLY what he or she does to test hypotheses and to learn, whether you like it or not.
So, what to do with this information? Does it mean that, since we don’t get mad, we just let the child do whatever and walk all over us?
No. But whatever you do, if you keep in mind that your child is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing, and that nobody’s bad, your actions will no longer be laced with anger and designed to punish your child.
You will still sometimes need to pick your child up and leave the birthday party amidst screams and misery. But you won’t blame your child or yourself, you won’t feel the need to stay mad or punish your child, and you won’t deem the situation a failure. Nobody has failed.
Instead, your child has succeeded in discovering one more thing about herself in the world, and you have succeeded in helping her learn, compassionately.
I’d love to help you identify how your child’s behaviour is reflecting his or her developmental process, and help you figure out what to do instead of rewards, punishments, praise or shame. Check out Big Picture Parenting 2015, or call me up for some coaching!
We can coach by phone, by Skype, no matter where you live, or in-home (if you live in Calgary, Canada). Call me to find out if coaching with me might be a good fit for you…403-607-1463.
I’d love to connect!
Okay, so here’s the thing. We KNOW that if we don’t know how, or aren’t any good at taking care of ourselves, we get drained and resentful, AND we can’t teach others what we need, and so, the situation spirals.
The people that love you – including your children – will miraculously get way better at supporting you when you start to figure out what you need, and act on it, showing others that you are worthy of this kind of care. And, even if they don’t, YOU will have made a breakthrough. You will feel different when you ACT AS IF you are worthy of the kind of care you need to thrive. In fact, you may even begin to thrive!
So, that’s important – deciding that YOU are going to take responsibility for your own self-care, not expecting others to do it first.
Here’s how it works…
One mom who was participating in a Wellness Circle once said she would never hesitate to jump out of bed to get her husband a glass of water, but wouldn’t do the same for herself. I love this example, because I find that when I’m thinking about taking care of me, it really helps me to imagine myself as two different people, Me that needs care (the one lying in bed, thirsty), and Me that is capable of providing care (the one getting up to get the glass of water).
I will tell you that it took me a loooooong time to figure out that when I clean my house, the Me that doesn’t like cleaning my house can do it as a gift for the Me that loves a clean house. I’m still working on this, but I will also tell you that the yummy, appreciated, and grateful feeling I have TOWARDS MYSELF when I see my house clean doubles the pleasure. Now the Me that is capable of providing care is valued and appreciated for my effort by the Me that needs care, AND I’m experiencing the pleasure of my clean house. So, both Me’s feel loved. Cool, right?
This also works in the bathtub or shower. Take a minute to get out of your head, and into your body. Actually experience your own touch as you massage your foot or scrub your arms. Feel yourself as the One Who Gives and the One Who Receives. Feel this physically – getting into the hand that is massaging your foot, and then into the foot that is receiving the massage.
Can you feel how beautiful and healthy this other kind of spiral is? It’s all full of yummy gratitude and love – things that you need, and deserve.
Gratitude and love are your birthright.
In my next blog post, I will share some tips for getting started on self-care while still keeping all those other balls in the air, so that all the needed planning and time and money and lack of brain-space stop getting in the way of you taking care of you.
If you haven’t read my last blog post on getting past the blocks that stop you from self-care, go here.
If you want to take a giant leap towards taking better care of yourself, check out our Women’s Wellness Circles. I’d love to share some peace and ease with you.
And please comment below! I’d love to hear how YOU take care of YOU!
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a number of moms share with me that they feel terribly guilty because they aren’t any “good” at playing with their kids. Sometimes they don’t like it, sometimes they feel intimidated by it, sometimes they get bored by it, sometimes they feel there is some sort of skill involved that they just don’t have.
I have a couple of things to say about this. First, it’s important for people, not just children, to “play”. We all need time to just explore, try new things, do whatever we feel, say whatever we feel, be silly, knit or build or bake stuff, in an open-ended situation that doesn’t need to produce a specific result.
It’s possible that you don’t do much playing at all, in any area of your life. If that’s the case, I encourage you to tap into your own intuition, to get back in touch with those urges to do something silly, doodle, crack the ice on the top of the puddle, make a collage, or invent a new recipe. You may need to schedule yourself some time to do “nothing” and see what you feel like doing after you’ve let go of the need to do all the things on your list. Even if you start with one minute of unscheduled time that you intend to allow for potential play-like thoughts, you might be surprised at what happens.
If you do play already in your life, it’s very possible that how you play may not be anything like how your child plays, so you may find it tricky to play the way your child does.
And, yes, your child does need to play. But, here it is: your job is to make sure that your child’s environment provides him or her with all he or she needs to thrive.
You do not need to, and cannot, be, the one who fulfills every one of your child’s needs.
Here’s the thing – your child will benefit most from seeing you enthusiastic, engaged, and excited about life. You may be fascinated by architecture, knitting, math, baking, building, or history. Every person is different, and it doesn’t take a baby very long to figure that out. Babies will notice that THIS person cuddles, THIS person plays, THIS person sings, etc.
So, if you don’t love to play, DON’T PLAY with your child. Instead, share something with your child that you both love doing, and share your own enthusiasm with your child. Chances are, you will find yourself playing along the way, just not with toys, and maybe not in the way you are used to thinking about play.
So, let go of the guilt, and let go of the expectation on yourself. Instead, do what you love, and let the joy follow.
403-607-1463 << Call me anytime:)