So many times when our kids get upset we feel like we need to “fix” it. But in reality we just need to support, listen, and connect. But why is it so hard to do that? How can I teach my child but also support them in a way that isn’t like a raging bitch. Dramatic, maybe, but definitely truthful. How and why would your child want to come to you when all you do is place blame, criticize, or make them feel guilty for their choices. Connection doesn’t have to mean that your letting them get away with it, it’s allowing them to have their feelings and truly, actively listen to them. More often than not, they know what the right thing to do is, and they just want your acknowledgment of their feelings.
“But more important than any words we use is our attitude. If our attitude is not of compassion, then whatever we say will be experienced by the child as phony or manipulative. It is when our words are infused with our real feelings of empathy that they speak directly to a child’s heart.”
How to Talk So Kids Will Listen. How to Listen So Kids Will Talk.
Wow reading that really hits hard, because it reminds me of how I felt as a child when my mom would speak to me and how it made me feel. Sometimes, her tone of voice was so upsetting I would avoid her as much as possible. When we are feeling burnt out or overwhelmed, it’s ok, too. It’s acknowledging your own feelings and finding a way to take a time out to get back in the game. What can I do to help me connect, be calm, and respectful? You need to find what that is for you and it’s ok to make that a priority because it will make you a better parent for your children. It also teaches your children to listen to their own feelings and that they are valid.
Not solving their problems is another hard one, for sure. I think I do this with my husband as well; I try to solve things that he doesn’t necessarily want solved. Many times we don’t want our problems solved, we just want to be heard, understood, and supported. That goes the same for our children. They don’t want your opinion, your feelings on the matter or how to fix it. They simply want to be heard and know you’re there to support them. By doing this you’re also teaching them good listening skills.
Often times when our child reacts or has a meltdown, we try to calm them down. We try to make them feel better. But when it doesn’t work, we switch from helping to almost being upset with them for being upset. When I put myself in their shoes I realize how upsetting that must be. But why is that our reaction? Is it because we were treated that way? So much of this is just putting ourselves in their shoes before we respond so that we can provide the most support. I’ve read parent help articles that tell you to let them have their feelings but it’s more than that. Many times they will be upset, and we just have to acknowledge it. If they are upset because they can’t go play, we can say it out loud, “you’re disappointed that we can’t go, I understand how disappointing it is” and leave it at that. You’ve acknowledged it and they can feel like you’ve heard them. It’s the acceptance, that their feelings matter and that you care.
Trust me though, it’s so hard in the heat of the moment. Just today my daughter, who is quite outgoing, was terrified to participate in the older kids online class because she didn’t know anyone. Normally, she is the first to raise her hand and answer, but today I could barely get her to sit down at her desk. And what was I doing to help? Nothing. I was upset. I told her, “It’s ok, now just sit and watch.” Then, “why aren’t you sitting, it’s the same thing!” and then, “If you won’t participate you can’t go play afterwards!” What is wrong with me? I wasn’t listening to all the advice or new things I learned on how to put myself in her shoes and just tell her I’m there. I wasn’t. I was only pushing her to feel something else. So thankfully my husband came in and he said he understood how she felt and sat with her. By the end of the class, she was participating. I felt like a failure.
When I’m not in the moment I know the right thing to do, but when I’m in the moment I go back to my old ways. This prompted me to look into classes on how to be a better emotional coach to my child. Although I don’t know if they will work, I do know it’s my behavior that needs to change. If I truly care and believe what I’m reading and writing I need to change and actually act on it. Sometimes when we dig, we dig right into the bigger problem that takes more than a patch to fix. It will be a process, but it’s a process I need to go through to be a better mom and wife to my family.