Every day your child has what I call “first time experiences.” She finds herself in new situations with no idea how to handle things. Her behavior isn’t “bad,” not really; it’s simply a reflection of an immature sweetie who doesn’t know what to do.
What she does know, is she’s being told she’s wrong, which frustrates her because she has no idea what to do instead, and that can cause big feelings.
Parents are having first time experiences, too. Parents are affected by the fast pace of technology, the lack of “me” time, and the push and pull of daily parenting.
Living at warp speed can cause you to feel overwhelmed from the minute you get up to the minute you go to sleep, and all those factors tend to cause lack of patience.
When a parent feels emotionally depleted, and a child is frustrated because she has no idea what to do instead of what she’s done, parent and child usually collide and reactions occurs.
I know you’ve experienced losing your patience and want a better way to handle these types of situations. You intuitively know there’s a solution, but don’t have time to wade through a plethora of parenting sites to find them.
My advice as a parent educator is to begin shifting from punishing to correct behavior, to teaching life skills so true learning occurs. The teaching of life skills is much firmer than punishment, that’s another article!Punishments causes lack of patience, and teaching life skills restores patience for parents.
The Problem: Focusing On the End—The Misbehavior
When a child acts out, most parents tend to zero in on the end result, the misbehavior.The problem is the misbehavior or attitude doesn’t come out of the blue. It’s actually the end result of unexpressed feelings.
Because you’re experiencing alack of patience,you can forget that misbehavior and attitudes have their roots in feelings that have gone unnoticed, unexpressed, or unacknowledged. Unacknowledged or unexpressed feelings grow and grow until they blossom into misbehavior or an attitude.
So what’s a parent to do?
This Takes Self Control
A good place to begin is to skip over the end result, the misbehavior, for the moment,and begin talking to your child about what inspired the incident instead.
Ask questions about how she was feeling before the incident or misbehavior occurred, then become silent, and wait for the child to answer.
When a child is facing silence, the pressure for someone to speak fills the room. If you say anything, you run the risk of igniting a reaction again.
Make sure to refrain from correcting the way your child saw things unfold. Her version, and resulting feelings are what caused the misbehavior, so it’s the feelings you focus on, not the adult’s version of what“really happened.”
Try questions like:
• “What didn’t you say after…fill in the blank…happened?”
• “What did your heart want to say when this happened?”
• “What made you mad?”
Identifying and resolving misbehavior this way not only preserves your patience it allows you to teach the life skills needed to navigate future situations.
Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by Sharon Silver
Sharon Silver is a parenting educator and the founder of Proactive Parenting. She’s also the author of Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be.