Typically when I see a child in my office it is because of a breakdown in communication. However, both parent and child are usually frustrated and want me to help “fix” the other person. What they are really to say is that they want a relationship with the other person. So What i try to teach each person is to be accountable and responsible for their own feelings and actions.
Here are some tips to help reconnect and to take accountability and responsibility for your behavior and actions.
1: Take a break from control:
It is important to remember that being in “control,” does not equal “controlling.” So if you find your-self losing your temper, shutting down, placing blame on the other person for your feelings, feeling stubborn, shouting, throwing things or screaming, then you are no longer in “control.” You are now demonstrating controlling behavior.
2: Pay attention to your own triggers and thoughts.
If you are insecure or have fears of failure , or issues with anger, it can dramatically affect your connection with your child. Do you find your-self shutting down, interrupting or shouting when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do? If so then you need to work on your own issues before you can have any influence over your own child. Look at your-self as investigator. Remember this is not about blame. This is about figuring out what needs to change to make your relationship stronger and better. Your child looks to you to help them through difficult and stormy times. They need parents who are calmly and confidently in control, and to be in control, a parents ability needs to be independent of their child’s behavior or misbehavior. So I encourage you to challenge yourself and to get a better understanding of what your triggers are. Think about a recent incident with your child that did not go well and then answer the following three questions.
1. What was I feeling when my child either ignored me. shouted at me, refused to do something etc
2. What was I thinking before, during and after the incident?
3. Why did this situation bother me
4. What could I have done differently?
3: Ask yourself the opposite of what you expect them to do.
The most common complaints I have from parents are; “my kid is lazy, she doesn’t listen, she is spoiled, she is manipulative, etc.” Lets take the example that “she doesn’t listen.” You could probably easily list all the reasons why she doesn’t listen. From this perspective it can limit the relationship. So instead try asking your-self all the reasons why, your child “SHOULDN”T” listen to you. Go ahead try it. Here are some examples of the answers parents have given; “I don’t listen to her, I dismiss her feelings and tell her she is lying, I get angry when she interrupts, I shout, I blame her for my feelings, I smile when she is crying, she is probably frustrated, she probably doesn’t trust me, etc” and the list goes on.
4: Learn to stay calm in the storm by not focusing on the incident.
A child is undergoing massive changes and sometimes this can trigger bouts of intense anxiety, anger and sadness. They may scream, hit their sibling, skip school, not do their homework, lie etc. What a child needs at this point is a strong leader. Someone that is going to help them get through this storm. If you as the parent find your-self getting angry, crying, giving orders or shutting down, then you are no longer in control.
First check in with your feelings and thoughts.
Second ask your-self “the opposite of what you want or expect them to do.” “Why should she skip school ?” Why should she NOT do her homework?” “Why should she NOT talk to me.”
Third: Wait until the storm has passed to talk about the incident. In other words resist the temptation to nag and lecture during the storm. You won’t get anywhere and it will only cause a further disconnect
5: Find a connection with your kid:
All to often I will hear parents talk about how they don’t like their kids choice of music, the type of clothes they wear, the friends they hang out with, the shows they watch or even there after school activities, but then get upset when the child does not listen to them or wants to be with them. A child who feels that they have nothing in connection with their parent will feel alone and thus will seek out other people who share the same likes. They are seeking attachment with other like minded people. Think about your interests and your likes. Would you seek out other people that show no interest in what you like? If a child does not form that attachment through sameness, then she will seek it elsewhere and gradually shut out the people who do not share the same interests.
Look at this as a great opportunity to understand what makes your child tick and to have some positive influence. It is not really about what YOU like. This is about connecting with your child and celebrating who she is as a person. Children always long for a parent’s approval and acceptance and one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to celebrate in their unique talents, personalities and interests.