Sometimes, we as parents get so caught up in the business of being parents, that we forget that everyone in the family is human. We all make mistakes, we are all learning, and not one of us is perfect.
I met with a client, Lindsay and her Mom Lisa, today. Mom gave me a very detailed list of the behaviours she has witnessed from Lindsay, when I met with Lindsay, she gave me a play by play of everything that transpired. I got 2 different versions of the same events. The only common link between the 2 stories was the direction of blame. Both mom & daughter pointed to Lindsay as the instigator.
Lindsay has a very mature level of accountability. She is able to tell me the exact moment she loses control and even why she chooses to stay in an escalated state for extended periods of time.
As parents we tend to have expectations for our children, sometimes we explain those expectations and sometimes, usually without realizing it, we are dangling invisible carrots and chastising our children when they fail to find the carrot.
5 Tips for Positive Parenting:
- Listen to your children – they don’t always want to hear your responses. Sometimes, they just need a sounding board, a safe place to get things off their chest.
- Get involved in their lives – meet them at their level. They are kids, not adults. Have fun, play games, get dirty, explore, climb, read, dig, paddle, catch, kick – be a kid.
- Define House Rules – have an open discussion about the expectations of the home. Try not to dictate the rules, allow them to have a say. If they feel included in this process, they are more likely to abide.
- Define consequences – Kids need to know where the lines are and what happens when they are crossed. Again, if they are involved in this process, they are more likely to respect the rules. Remember – Natural consequences – the punishment must fit the crime.
- Model appropriate behaviours – If “don’t come home drunk” is a house rule, it is for you too. If you expect accountability from them – you better find some of your own.
If Lisa could slow down enough to see that she too played a part in Lindsay’s behaviours, perhaps she could begin to find a way to calm the emotions before they spiral out of control.
When our children are spiraling, maintain composure. This is not the time to meet them at their level. Model the behaviours you wish to see. Soften your voice, slow your breath, and patiently wait for the emotions to drain off. Acknowledge any feelings they express with a simple nod. Demonstrate remorse and accountability for your acts. Remember, every story has 2 sides; both you and your child are going to view the same event differently. Try to see their side of it.
You got this! Slow down, breathe, check yourself and move forward.
**Names were changed to maintain confidentiality.
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