We’ve grown accustomed to “instant gratification” in our society. Unfortunately, some things take time and patience to see the fruits of the labor, particularly when changing how you parent a child with challenging and concerning behaviors.
Just because you’re doing the work doesn’t mean your kid will stop having problematic behaviors right away. They may still meltdown, carry on, and refuse to cooperate. Doing the work means you acquire and access the tools necessary to regulate yourself instead of being hijacked by your emotions and losing your temper. You coach yourself before you address your child. The transformation in your child’s behavior will result from your mindful responses over time and not losing your temper with your child.
Mia started my Parent & Family Coaching program because her six-year-old son Jesse was an explosive child. He got frustrated quickly and hit when he did not get his way. This was embarrassing and stressful for Mia, and she found herself scolding Jesse, smacking his hand, and threatening to take things away if he didn’t behave. She was tired of losing her temper with her son.
Mia was at the park with Jesse about four weeks into us working together. Jesse threw a fit because there wasn’t a swing available for him. He kicked the swingset repeatedly, and when Mia tried to comfort him, he ran away and hid under the slide.
Mia did not lose her temper! She used some of the strategies we practiced together during our sessions, such as taking deep breaths to calm herself down after being triggered by Jesse’s explosive behavior. She identified that he was in a state of fight or flight and knew she was on her way too!
Once calmer, Mia walked over to Jesse to acknowledge his feelings – “You seem upset. You were hoping to swing right away. It’s hard to wait for a turn.”
Later that evening, Mia called me, questioning, “Is this working?” She was upset that Jesse was still having tantrums over simple things like sharing and taking turns – especially in public.
I asked her, “How would you have handled this situation before you had these tools?” Mia admitted, “It would have been a shit show.”
She said she would have drug him out from under the slide, told him how much he was embarrassing her, and removed his iPad time later. She then said that Jesse would have obsessed on the loss of the iPad time, hit her, and rant and rave while begging for the iPad for the rest of the night. They would both be stewing, and she’d continue to lose her temper and eventually go to bed feeling guilty.
Next, I asked Mia, “So how did it turn out today?”
Mia proudly reported that she did not lose her temper, and when she acknowledged Jesse’s feelings, he came out from under the slide on his own. He went back to the swings and waited patiently without Mia saying a word. When it was time to get off of the swing, he did. They left the park hand-in-hand, and the rest of the evening went relatively smoothly.
Mia realized that Jesse was starting to shift because she responded rather than reacted. Her parent coaching was working for both of them!
Remind yourself that you are the one doing the work – not your child. Your child is like clay being molded by what you model and your responses to their behavior, especially regarding how you discipline them through an emotional state they can’t yet regulate independently.
Your self-regulating ability will strengthen your relationship with your child and serve as a model and facilitation of mindful responses.
Remember- just because you’re doing the work doesn’t mean your kid will stop having problematic behaviors right away. It’s more helpful to focus on your response to their behaviors than their behavior. Eventually, you’ll notice challenging and concerning behaviors happen with less frequency and intensity.
The more you can model how to not lose your temper, which is the adult version of throwing a fit, the more you’re able to show your child you’re aware of your own triggers, and they can be handled safely and appropriately. Show them you are coaching yourself through your own upset and intense emotions. The more you teach them to respond to the situation at hand, the easier it’ll be for both of you.
Not sure how my Parent Coaching Family program can help you? Make sure to download a copy of my services guide to find out!
I empower parents and teachers to feel calm, capable, and confident so that they can problem-solve and create new possibilities with their children.
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Which chakras do you need to balance to be a more mindful parent?