Search for more Everyday Power
1. Once upon a time, you were a child too.
For some it was thirty or forty years ago, for others it was far less (but you were, in fact, a child yourself) so keep that in mind when you deal with your own children. Try to remember what is was like when you were a kid and your parents got upset with you. Chances are it was no picnic and you can probably remember a scolding (or worse) to this day. See if you can remember how it made you feel, do you want the same for your child?
Before you go dealing out any harsh punishment, put yourself in their shoes. You don’t have to walk a mile in them, just take one step. Look around at what they see; it’s not the same as what you see. Think about what they know, it’s not nearly half as much as what you know.
Children act according to an entirely different set of rules and their world is much smaller than yours. Their priorities are simple and they depend on you for their very existence. Dangers that you can see coming a mile away don’t even come onto their radar until it’s too late. Instead of being harsh and going off on them, try to guide them. Show them what it is that they are doing wrong and point out the pitfalls that they can’t see.
2. We don’t cry over spilt milk, but we do clean it up.
Unless your child is about to walk out into oncoming traffic or fall off a cliff while you’re visiting the Grand Canyon, chances are that whatever you are getting upset about is small potatoes. Eminent danger deserves a swift and curt response from you, leaving their notebook on the counter does not (even if it’s the one thousandth time you’ve told them to pick it up). I would suggest using cause and effect for the notebook. “The next time I see your notebook on the counter, you’re going to spend the weekend in your room.” No emotional response is required on your part, just the ability to follow through.
Keep in mind that getting upset is just that, an emotional response. You should try to be more diplomatic with the trivial things. This will teach your child that you mean business in a way that doesn’t give you any more grey hair than you already have and they will gain respect for your authority if they stray a little too far over the line of what is acceptable (especially if you are dealing with a younger child).
I am delighted in the fact that when I ask my child to take out the garbage he does it with no questions asked, no complaining and no more energy on my part other than a please and thank you. This has taken years to achieve but the understanding is absolute on his part, “If I do what I’m asked, I don’t have to stare at my walls while everyone else is outside playing.”
3. Are you getting upset because of unrealistic expectations on your part?
These can easily lead to disappointment and make you upset with your child. We want our children to excel at everything they do and it’s a good thing to push them. But if you find yourself getting upset because they don’t hit the ball every time they come up to bat you need to tone it down. We all want our children to be the best they can be and encouraging them will go a lot farther than getting upset.
“Did you do the best you could?” That’s what I ask my children, a sincere response in the affirmative is enough for me. The trick here is that as the parent you always know if they did their best or not and the child has no clue as to how you know. Believe me, if I can see that he is goofing off or not trying his hardest I most certainly get in his face about it. There’s a difference, and I think knowing that difference is a skill that all parents cultivate over time.
The report card, this is an excellent example and opportunity to check our expectations and see if they are too high. We all want our children to be straight A students and maybe in their first few years at school, they were. Now that they are in a higher grade, the A’s are turning into B’s and C’s. If you are doing everything in your power to help them with their homework and their grades don’t come up you will have to accept the fact that their capacity for certain subjects just isn’t that high. Everybody is different, that’s life. Praise them for what they do well on; help them when they struggle and always be there for them when they need help with something.
4. “Mother is the name for god on the hearts and lips of all children.” Brandon Lee
I like this particular quote because it sums up a child’s view in just a few words. They look up to you for approval, guidance, praise and everything in between. You are their alpha and their omega and your words carry more weight, in their eyes, than anything else on earth. This is an awesome power over another human being and you should not wield it lightly. With a single word, you can either make their little heart soar or crush their spirit, keep this in mind before you fly off the handle at something trivial.
Another thing to keep in mind when dealing with your children is to ask yourself, “Is their behavior a direct reflection on me? Is the thing that is making me upset something they learned from me or heard me say?” Put a mirror in between and your child and make sure that it isn’t you that is to blame, not them, for making you upset. Often we see our children reflect our bad habits as well as our good ones and it can generate negative emotions in us that they wind up receiving the brunt of.
5. Nothing is “That Bad.”
We live in an imperfect world and your child hasn’t been here that long. Instead of getting upset when they do something you don’t approve of, show them the error of their ways. Tell them why you are upset and what danger they might have put themselves in as a result. Use the wisdom you have gained in life to open their inexperienced and un-jaded eyes to the things they just can’t see.
Finally, you should remember that this isn’t a dress rehearsal, it’s the real thing. When they get older they will remember the highs and lows of their childhood, even if you don’t. Believe me, it will influence the relationship they choose to have with you once they are old enough to make all of their own decisions. That is a fence you don’t want to wind up on the wrong side of so be as patient as you can now and in the future you’ll be someone they will be proud to call mom and dad.