Techniques galore. Time outs. Behavior charts. Chore charts. Get-out-the-door charts. 1, 2, 3 warnings. Homework first. Cry to sleep. Rock to sleep. Just sleep. “Eyes only” and one finger touches. Unwavering curfew. No reading until your teeth are brushed and jammies on. Be respectful or else. Consequences consequences consequences…and on and on and on.
Techniques. All work some of the time. Some may work most of the time. None work all the time. I find parents just want to know what to DO in order to get their child to listen, to behave, to use respectful voices, to practice the piano, to get in the car ON TIME (and without a battle), to sleep on their own…And we are often left–especially as a technique HAS worked suddenly stops working–increasingly frustrated or at a loss.
So what is happening here? We are dealing with human beings instead of machines. We are dealing with relationships. We are dealing with constant and wonderful growth. With children who are separate and unique individuals who think their own thoughts, feel their own feelings, and ultimately can choose their own actions, behavior, responses–every single time. No matter the technique put in place. Human beings who are constantly growing and changing…and we need to be able to grow and change along with them.
Here’s the deal. Techniques can work, absolutely. But let’s look to what’s beneath what is working–to you. What is it YOU are doing, saying, thinking, feeling that has a certain technique working? I’m going to venture to say you are calm. Clear on what you want. Confident in being the one in charge. Connected to your child, emotionally for sure, physically maybe.
I bet you are consistent–you are keeping your promise and following through calmly and consistently as often as possible. I bet you are lighthearted on a regular basis. Gently firm. Able to go with the flow and at times do things a bit differently for fun–maybe have dessert first, or able to let go of “1, 2, 3…” not working and humorously toss up your arms, plop on the floor and say, “Let’s just take a break together…”
I’ll bet something else that is working is your ability to let go and give your child the opportunity to choose–because you are confident in the expectations in place, in yourself, in what you intend to do no matter what they do. I’ll bet you feel relaxed and good and successful (and relieved).
How would that feel to have this calm confidence, gentle firmness, light-heartedness, flexible and engaged soul feeling relaxed and good in place whether a technique works or not? What might it take to do so?
Here’s what I know works (with practice, constant appreciation for your hard work, and self-care bolstering you)–letting these feelings and qualities during your successes be what guides you rather than the techniques you employ. Let calm confidence lead the way–even when you have absolutely no idea where you are headed with your child (be calm and confident with your indecision and confusion!).
Let it have you creatively trying things.
Let it remind you to stay consistent, no matter what.
Let it remind you that no matter what your child does, you can be the person they can count on.
Let it help you pause…and consider…and not be in a rush to fix a problem.
Let it remind you that growth and learning deserves the respect of time. And if it gets loud and chaotic, that’s okay. Still take your time…
Be gently firm–know without a doubt you are your child’s parent and nothing they do will change that. Let light-heartedness step up often–these techniques we employ? They often have us getting so very serious with our child…and really, at times we just need to lighten up. So loosen your grip on the technique, be a bit lighthearted and flexible. Have dessert first on occasion. Let them wear their regular clothes to bed. Be late. Hold your baby while they sleep–maybe they really need it right then. Let the curfew relax a bit on those special occasions. Put the chore chart in the drawer and start a-new. It really is okay.
Techniques can help us tremendously–they can help us feel the confidence, clarity, and calm. I encourage you to dig deeper. To know that you can be the calm and confident parent no matter the technique. Now when a technique stops working (and it will), you can feel relaxed about it–for you do not need it to parent well.
And that is the bottom line. Look to what is working inside YOU, grow these qualities by focusing on them, noticing where you feel them, “wear” them in difficult times (act-as-if and soon it will be your reality!). Let ***pausing*** step up to help you. I believe you may discover that parenting well is way less about what to do to get your child to behave, and way more about how you do things. Make the how based on the feelings/qualities you want most and you’ll discover a treasure trove of things that work–because now YOU are firing from within yourself rather than looking to find something “out there” that can fix things.
And now it is about growing an amazing future adult and building a relationship to last a lifetime. For we are human systems, constantly changing, always evolving, and need to be able to trust in and feel safe with those who guide us rather than the techniques employed. Be that for your child. Let calm confidence lead the way in all that you do today.
©2015 Alice Hanscam
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