If you have several children, chances are good that at least one of them challenges your sanity. You love him (or her), but truth be told you don’t always like them. They do not only push your buttons, they stomp, tap dance and karate kick them until your last nerve is hanging by a thread. Then you snap and say something you wish you hadn’t and the situation escalates into a full blown drama.
If this cycle sounds familiar, I can commiserate. The latest cycle with one of my own resident button pushers got me thinking and reflecting once again on how I can get to the root of my own emotional responses so as to diffuse the situation earlier the next time. Here are some of those thoughts.
Acknowledge the buttons
Know what your hot buttons are. As the saying goes, “there’s no smoke without a fire”. If you’re upset about something your child is or isn’t doing, it’s probably because you are the very same way. Your child is lovingly mirroring your own limited behavioral response, subconsciously hoping that you will see it and heal it in yourself.
Recognize your buttons need healing
Self-help guru Byron Katie has a great resource to help you come into self-awareness (if you’re brave). In fact, her website is choc-full of helpful tools that can give you a shift very quickly if you are open. At her website www.thework.com, you’ll find many therapeutic videos, worksheets and articles to help move you along the self-healing process. Self-healing leads to relational healing with your children.
Identify the needs behind the needs
There are certainly some unmet needs for both you and your child when you find yourselves exploding together. Look for them. They will not be the superficial, “I need you to do what I say when I say,” but something deeper like respect, ease or even connection. The Center for Nonviolent Communication has some resources to help you with this, and their system is brilliant at helping you get to your core. Here is a list of needs that may spark your intuition and move you towards your center.
Make a request
This is the last step in dealing with your “difficult” child. As you may be aware of if you’ve read this far, it is your own difficulty in dealing with your child that is likely 90% of the problem. Often, the first thing we do when our children are being difficult is make demands. The Byron Katie and NVC processes have us self-evaluate first so that we may become more self-aware. Then, we can make the request from our child from a place of connection and intimacy. ”When you agree to take the trash out and don’t do it, I feel aggravated. I have a need for ease and trust. I wonder if you’d be willing to tell me how you really feel about taking out the trash.”
This may sound like weak parenting to some, but it will go a long way towards building true relationships. Building true relationships has gone a very long way for me in my ability to enjoy my children more and more. Now when a “difficult” moment arises, we have more of a foundation of trust to approach the situation. We’re not yet where we want to be, but thank goodness we’re not where we used to be!