So when you or your child has fast-tracked to red, keep in mind that, deep down, there’s a feeling of not being safe. Does knowing this change how you feel about what’s happening? Instead of asking what you can do to make a behavior stop, ask, “What do you need to feel safe? What does my child need to feel safe?” And see what happens.
Maybe you can relate to my own tantrum story. This wasn’t my best parenting day and I’d like to say that it was also my worst, but it wasn’t. It’s a snapshot. A moment of time. And you probably have them, too.
I took the time to do our morning connection rituals with both my daughters. I stopped hurrying us about and took the time to admire their choices of clothing. And by the time we got into the car, we were back to being our calm selves and plugged into one another. We arrived, late, yet in time with one another.
Everywhere we look nowadays, children are being diagnosed and labeled with disorders based on their behavior, with acronyms being placed near their names. “Johnny has ADD, that’s why he can’t sit still.” “Sherry has RAD and that’s why she can’t attach to us.” “Vinny is on the (autism) spectrum.” But how does it help to label our children?
There is no right or wrong choice in schools (homeschool, private school, public, etc.); but after doing all of them, I realized for me and my kids, life experience was more than great planned vacations that didn’t happen often enough, or being creative with your curriculum. For me, school was about community and the opportunities random people provide. I may have failed at homeschooling, but I realized that every family is different and we all have individual needs.
When our children are little, we know we must model for them, so we show them how to pick up their toys and sing clean-up songs to make it more enjoyable. We sit with them and do it together, showing that teamwork makes the job go faster and that we can help each other. But for some reason, when they are older, we seem to expect them to just do things on their own, without direction or help. And often parents aren’t even kind about it. “Go clean your room!” “If you can’t take care of your things, maybe you don’t deserve to have them!”
She paused for a moment. This pause was for her. She centered herself around the realization that her child was distressed and this was how he was expressing it in this moment. She wasn’t going to do what he was demanding. That would not be healthy for either of them. But she stopped what she was doing and gave him her full attention. She ignored his behavior in this moment and focused on him, her child, who was clearly having a rough time.
“I’m so upset! He’s working completely against me. No matter what I do, he continues to speak to me disrespectfully. I’ve tried punishing him, but he doesn’t seem to care. What am I supposed to do? I want a good relationship with my son, but he’s making it impossible!”
Maybe you can relate to this mom’s struggle. She had tried all the usual suggestions, but things hadn’t improved. She had no idea what to do next. Many parents feel this way and find themselves at the end of their rope.
I’ve been there as a parent myself. I wanted to parent from a loving place, but my kid’s behaviors were driving me crazy. Like a really bad kind of crazy. I didn’t know what to do.
In the other room, a volcano seemed to be exploding. I quickly realized it was my 13 year-old son who had just gotten very frustrated with his iPod and launched it across the room. I was on the phone with a client and my husband was out of town. Seemed like an impossible situation just then. I wrapped up my session and went out to see what had happened.
Everyone wants to find peace. Everyone wants connection. But sometimes that’s just not our family’s reality. Maybe our reality is tension. Maybe there are disagreements and fights. Maybe we find ourselves disliking being around our child or the disconnection just feels bad to us and we want it to be different. Or maybe we’re overwhelmed. So where do we start when we’re far from a place of love, ease, and joy? How can we begin our journey to this seemingly elusive place?