So the last few posts have been about attachments and helping our children deal with their feelings. Now it’s time to think about ourselves and our own feelings that parenting can trigger.
When the red mist descends… you know the feeling. You’ve been calm and understanding all day long; not rising to provocation and calmly navigating all sorts of disputes and complaints without raising your voice or rationalising. And then suddenly, you just can’t take any more; the irritation builds until you say something mean and then the guilt appears for snapping at your precious darling! We’ve all been there! Part of the issue is that we tend not to be authentic about how we are really feeling; we try to be ‘nice’ even though we may be fuming; then it just leaks out anyway later in unhelpful ways. So we might be better off being more honest about how we are feeling in the moment. The #1 thing to do is pause and breathe, resisting the temptation to react instead of respond- not always easy but I definitely feel better when I manage to remember this! Next up are 5 steps from the highly practical and effective How to Talk so Kids will Listen & Listen so Kids will Talk to help us deal with our own feelings as parents.
# 2 Describe what you see
So let’s say you notice something that needs to be done like your child’s toys tidied up or their coat picked up off the floor and hung up or crayons spilled over the floor. Instead of getting intense about it, try describing what you see in a light tone of voice. The Lego is all over the floor. Your coat is on the floor. The crayons have spilled out of the box. There’s a wet towel on the bed/floor. The light’s on in the bath room. And my own personal bugbear: The door is open. (I just said that to my little girl as I was writing this and it’s like magic- she closed the door! So far it has worked every time and occasionally she’s even said ‘Oh sorry’ before closing it. And one day she even told my husband to close it!) It’s easier for children to concentrate on the problem & generate a solution when we just describe it neutrally to them.
# 3 Give information
Information is a lot easier to take in than accusation so you can try saying things like Apple cores belong in the bin. Walls are not for writing on. Paper is for writing on. Seats are not for feet. Again the tone of your voice is important so keep it neutral and low on drama when you can!
# 4 Say it with a word
Resist the temptation to lecture or sermonise with lengthy explanations-it just makes children tune out. Instead try one to two words like Eve, peas (I’m just doing this right now!). You can use more emphasis in your tone here and use your eyes too to communicate you mean business! Other examples are: Jamie, your lunch, your coat, the dog etc.
#5 Talk about your feelings
With this one, you talk about your own feelings without commenting on their personality or character. So for example I don’t like having my sleeve pulled, it bothers me when the door is left open, I don’t want to feel cold. For older children: I feel so frustrated when I start to say something and can’t finish or I object to being told ‘ I have to do’ anything. What I’d like to hear is ‘Dad, I’m ready to go. Can you take me please?’
#6 Write a note.
There are some lovely ideas in the book for this tip although it might take a little more effort to be creative and funny. One father wrote a note on the bathroom mirror: Help! Hairs in my drain give me a pain. Glug. Your stopped-up sink. Another mother taped this to the TV screen: Before you turn this on- THINK- Have I done my homework? Have I practiced the piano? Another mother wrote a note on a paper plane and flew it into the room. The note said Toys away after play, love Mom.
You can combine #1 & #2 for example: That towel there is making my blanket wet. Wet towels belong in the bathroom. If that doesn’t work, you could increase the volume a bit with #3 Jill, the towel! Still nothing doing, then you can go a little louder with # 4 and Jill, I don’t want to have to sleep in a cold wet bed all night! Or I don’t like being ignored. I’m putting your wet towel away and now you have a resentful mother! Or if you don’t want to raise your voice, you could try a note: Wet towels on my bed make me see red! It’s all about matching the message to the mood!
Hope you find these ideas helpful! If you like the post, please pass it onto your friends.
Next time, I’ll be reporting on my No Drama Discipline experiences so be sure to watch your inbox!
Let’s get talking!