Sometimes, there are things our children do that make us want to squeeze them and kiss them because they’re so darned cute.
Like when they share their toy with their little sister. Or when they help their younger brother tie his shoes. Or when they’re being sweet with the family pet.
Sometimes they do things that irritate us, but we take it in stride. Hey, it happens. Being a parent isn’t always a piece of cake. Kids are kids.
And then there’s the next level—things they do that infuriate us so much that out of nowhere, we lose our cool.
Maybe they lie to us, or purposely hit or kick their sibling.
Or they decide they won’t take “no” for an answer and do what we forbid, anyway. Right in front of our nose.
All of a sudden, a surge of emotion rises up to the surface and before we even know it, we’re yelling and screaming at them.
What makes it worse are the lingering conversations we have in our head—the ones that keep fueling our upset long afterward. We can’t seem to let it go. We stew, thinking to ourselves…
“She should be more respectful!”
“He shouldn’t hit anyone! Where did he get that from?”
“She should listen to me and do as I say. I’m her mother.”
“He shouldn’t ignore me like that, EVER.”
Why do certain situations make us lose our cool and keep us locked in conflict with our child?
Because we make up a story about what happens and what it means—and we believe it’s true.
And that story usually contains one of two words…
Let’s say you saw your daughter walk up to her younger sibling and rip a toy out of her hand while she was playing with it, prompting tears and a meltdown.
That might be one of those moments when you lose your cool.
In your mind, her behavior is completely…wrong.
You probably won’t know exactly why your daughter did what she did, but that won’t stop you from believing a story you made up about her behavior. This made-up story is what I call a “thought pill.”
When you see her taking that toy, you swallow a thought pill about what it means.
You go around and around in your head about it:
“She shouldn’t act that way. I taught her to be considerate.”
“She should be kind and loving to her sister.”
“She’ll never have any friends if she doesn’t learn how to share.”
What’s the underlying reason you lost your cool? Not so much because your child did what she did, but because you’ve “bought in” to this idea of what your child SHOULD or SHOULDN’T do.
Those two words are making you more upset at certain situations. You believe your child should or shouldn’t do something, and some of these ideas originate in your OWN childhood. Maybe you had a parent who didn’t listen to you when you expressed yourself. Maybe you had things taken away from you unfairly, or you were bullied by your siblings or classmates.
Your past creates these “should” or “shouldn’t” messages in your subconscious, and when your child does something to bring them up, you lose it and react stronger than you want to.Get Your Child to Cooperate
Let’s examine those “should or shouldn’t” statements. Are they true?
Is it true that she shouldn’t ever act that way because you taught her to be nice?
Is it true that she should be kind and loving to her sister, always?
To put things in perspective, think of a time you acted in a way that opposed your values. Maybe you lashed out at your child when you were tired, or were mean-spirited to a family member who got on your nerves.
And you’re an adult, with decades of experience and maturity! Now imagine the limited emotional resources a young child has and ask yourself again, is it true that she SHOULD or SHOULDN’T ever act that way?
Suddenly, when you begin examining these questions, you begin to let go of the thought pill you swallowed and the turmoil you feel inside begins to ease.
You may be thinking, that’s all well and good, but what about in the moment when I feel myself about to lose it? How can I deal with it before I do or say something I regret?
There’s a way to bring this closer to home and work with it the instant you begin to sense you’re going down that path. Here’s how…
The next time you encounter a situation with your child that triggers a disproportionate amount of frustration within you, stop for a second.
Pay attention to the words you’re thinking. If you hear yourself using SHOULD or SHOULDN’T, that’s a signal to slow it down.
Pause, and ask yourself, is it true?
Is it true that they should or shouldn’t?
You might take things even further and ask:
Why might he not want to do his homework right after school?
—Maybe he’s tired and hungry and has low energy. Maybe the homework is too hard. Maybe he’s been looking forward to relaxing after school and playing a game.
Why might she whine about wanting ice cream before dinner?
—Maybe she’s hungry or she’s having a sweet craving. Do you ever have cravings?
Why might he refuse to brush his teeth or wash his hands?
—Maybe adults have been telling him what to do every single minute of the day and he just wants to exert some control.
As you ponder that hypothetical moment, ask yourself: What might prompt your daughter to do what she did? Is it possible she:
—is annoyed at the sibling?
—feels as if she gets less attention?
—thinks her sibling gets more toys?
—is tired and cranky because she’s getting sick?
When you take a few seconds to examine your thought pill, you’ll begin to see things from your child’s perspective, and over time, you’ll get less triggered. Which means, you won’t lose your cool as much, you’ll parent in a much more balanced manner and you’ll ease the conflict between you and your child.
By landing on your child’s planet, you open the door to compassion. You’ll have more empathy and conflict will lessen.
But just because you kinda “get” why your child is acting up doesn’t have to mean always giving in or relinquishing your role as the Captain of the ship.
You might step in to that situation and say to your child, “I would like to hear why you thought it was OK to take that toy away from your sister and upset her. Let’s talk about that later if you want. For now, sit down here and play with the game I brought out for you.”
When you’re the Captain, you understand and hear your child, but you’re still in charge, and your child knows it, and is more apt to cooperate.
Slowing things down, looking for SHOULD or SHOULDN’T, and asking yourself if it’s true is one of the many tools and techniques I reveal in my video program, Parenting Without Bargains, Battles or Bribes.
For example, a child’s behavior is rarely the problem. It’s the things you’re telling yourself about the behavior. Or, it’s the quality of the attachment you have with your child. Or it’s the way you’re approaching your child that is exacerbating their defiance.
In my video program, I’ll show you how to use your parenting challenges as opportunities to observe and work through the underlying reasons you’re getting triggered and your child isn’t cooperating. When you do, you’ll have an easier time staying calm and centered when your child gets upset, so you can be a compassionate leader to them.
You’ll learn how to heal your relationship with your child when you’ve blown it and lost your cool, said some terrible things, or even spanked your child when you vowed you wouldn’t. I’ll also guide you through specific steps you can take to improve the bond between you and your child, so they’ll want to please you.
The end result of all of this is that you’ll be able to RESPOND to your child’s behavior instead of mindlessly REACTING to it by doing or saying things you later regret.
You’ll be able to respond in a way that shows the child you’re calmly in charge and that you can handle anything.
Children desperately want that. They need for you to be in charge. If they don’t have that sensation, they will try to control you.
And that’s when you get unruly behavior and a lot of resistance.
That’s why my program is a game-changer if you’ve been dealing with a household that feels chaotic and conflicted.
Watch it, do the exercises, use the tools and apply the principles. If you don’t like it, simply let me know within a week of your purchase and I’ll gladly refund your money.Start Watching Now
That’s how much I know this will make a difference in your relationship with your child!
P.S. There are certain phrases you should never say to your child if you want him to take you seriously as a Captain and cooperate with you. Learn what those are in my video program here:Words Kids Tune Out