Those socks aren’t going on your child’s feet. Period. It’s going to be one of those days….maybe even one of those weeks. You can just feel it. It seems as if your child is doing everything within his power to make your life miserable. There is no cooperation – not even the slightest semblance of cooperation. And every time you try to get him to do something, it just gets worse.
Why won’t he just LISTEN?!!
And with every seemingly defiant word and action that flows so easily from your child, you can feel the hair start to stand up on the back of your neck. Your heart rate increases just ever so slightly. Your tone shifts. Your posture becomes stiff. And, in an instant, your mind begins to race.
Now, most parents won’t even notice all of this happening.
The race to control your child’s behavior in the heat of all of this becomes your singular focus.
But, here is what I’ve realized:
(and you may not like hearing this)
Before we can even begin to explore your child’s behavior and what parenting tool may work best for your child in that moment, I invite you to become acutely aware of one thing.
What are you thinking about your child in that instant?
That’s right. Let’s just sit together in one of these defiant moments and listen carefully for your next thought about your child. And, I’ll make you a bet: I’ll bet you that the very next thought about your child as your mind begins to race is not a supportive, loving thought. When we get really honest with ourselves as parents and can just listen for what we are REALLY thinking in those moments, we find the truth.
And the truth is that most parents are thinking in this moment some version of the thought, ‘my child is so bad.’
This thought often happens so fast, it’s barely noticed, if at all. And yet, it’s this one little thought that you may have about your child that will set up the context for how your child will continue to react to you and behave, perhaps for the rest of the day.
As your child’s parent, you are constantly setting up an emotional and energetic environment for your child with your thoughts, energy and behavior. Your child lives within your energetic structure created by your words and thoughts all the time.
If you’re thinking that your child is ‘bad’ in any moment, guess how your child will show up in your perspective?
Yup, you got it….’bad’.
Now, imagine that you begin to share this judgmental thought about your child being ‘bad’, even unconsciously with others around you, maybe even with your child’s teacher or doctor, or your spouse or significant other, so that now, they can also join you in that thought of your child being ‘bad’ in some way… and all because your child didn’t listen to you and do exactly what you wanted him to do.
All because your child your child was having a big feeling. All because your child had some need that was not getting met in that moment. There is no judgment in this. We all do it.
This is how a limiting belief in the mind of a parent deeply affects a child’s consequent behavior.
It’s time to flip this whole thing around and look at what is actually happening in that one very frustrating moment, with very defiant behavior from your child.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: ‘Your child is not ‘bad’.
First tip of the day: There are no ‘bad’ children. Your child is doing his or her best to get a need met in that moment and he is crying out for help.
Your child’s need may be for connection, autonomy, attention, acceptance, appreciation or one of the many needs we each have every day. And, as strange as it may seem, your child’s defiance in that moment is actually his ‘cry for help.’
He has this need and he doesn’t know how to get it met. So, he is choosing to be defiant instead. The defiance is not a great strategy… I understand that. I also understand that this behavior can cause you to feel angry, frustrated, or powerless. So let me ask you: do these feelings make you a bad person???
Nope. You’re not bad either.
And yet, if you set that one unsupportive belief in motion in your mind and find yourself believing, even for an instant that your child is ‘bad’, then you are setting yourself up for a waterfall of defiance and any other behavior that you find unfavorable.
The key is to accept the emotion without attaching judgment to it. We can feel the feeling without giving in to a label that we assign to our child.
The truth is that your child will live into and eventually become any thought, belief or idea that you have about him.
There are no shortcuts.
Your child’s behavior begins with your thought.
You have an incredible opportunity as a parent to build a nurturing and uplifting emotional environment around your child that she will carry with her always. For, it is within this environment that she will come to truly know herself, feel safe, and cultivate a healthy self-esteem that will last her a lifetime. She will know the full rainbow of emotions available to her without labeling them, judging them or burying them, and, ahhhhh, the freedom that will allow her to simple be who she is… priceless.
Here’s to your greatest thought!