Parenting is emotionally intense. Parenting teenagers is particularly hard. It could sweep the peace out of your home and throw you into a storm. Staying open to ideas when emotions run high is not easy. Part of your child’s job is to test your parenting fitness. If you are on your way to scold, lecture or insult your child marching to his/her door, you might want to turn around, take a walk or go to your room, and consider the following:
- What emotion am I experiencing?
- If it is fear, what am I afraid of?
- If I feel anger, what specifically angered me?
- If I feel hurt, what specifically hurt me?
- If it is something else, what exactly is the issue?
2. What other thoughts are coming to mind?
For example, if your child arrives from school with a low mark, you could think “He is going to end up like me. I think I was wrong to sign him up for this school. I failed him as a parent.” Or “I give her everything and she is not doing the one job that she has! Does she think it’s easy for me to work 50 hours a week. I hate this job…” You get it.
3. Could my emotions have anything to do with how my day has been going or how I have been feeling about myself recently?
An example would be when at work your team has failed to deliver what they promised today. You come home and find the tasks you gave your child are not done. You kept polite at work but you are enraged at your child for going against you, disrespecting you and ultimately trying to bring you down.
- Is my child demonstrating a repeated behavior? If so, have I set aside some time to think through what might be going on? Have I discussed it with my parenting partner?
For example, you have noticed that your daughter has started staying up late, her marks have dropped, and she is more abrasive with you than before. Fear overcomes you. Following Step 1, you have identified what you are afraid of. In Step 2, you have made connections to your past experiences and determined what your fear is based on. In Step 3, you have de-tangled the issue from your current emotional state. Now you can think more clearly about the problem, come up with some ideas of the reasons and potentially bring them up to your partner.
- Could I ask my child and how would I go about it?
In the case above, you could go straight to her and ask her to immediately revert her behavior, or you can sit down and talk to her. It would be of interest to understand when and why her behavior has changed, what is preoccupying her, and what she thinks about the change.
Finally, you may often get the steps wrong or skip them. Emotions often rule over our intelligent minds. However, when you are calm again and your thinking starts to clear, do tell your child that you have made a mistake. Admit that emotions took the best of you, and then talk to them. Keep trying and you will succeed.
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Thank you for reading,