By Traci L. Carman
Summer is in full swing. Are you loving the freedom of open days, or counting the minutes until your children go back to school?
- Are you having sibling rivalry like never before?
- Do you wonder where the “lazy” gene came from?
- Is there a new “attitude” in the air?
- What about “I’m bored” and the whinnies?
If any (or all) of these are occurring in your home, you have basically two choices:
- Frustration and anger; or
- Curiosity and understanding.
If you are going down the frustration and anger route, you may be noticing that summer is not so much fun, family relationships are strained, and you don’t feel joyful and happy inside. Your children might even seem to be regressing in attitude. It simply doesn’t work, at least not long term. It also does not build your connection, relationship, trust or respect, all of which are important to nurture and build on a regular basis.
How can you get from frustration and anger, to curiosity and understanding? I have three simple tips for you:
- Remember that parenting is not about control, it is about guidance. We are stewards of these little people who have been placed in our care. It is our job (hopefully our pleasure) to teach them the skills of life.
- Communication goes a long way. ASK about the behavior that is going on. Make an attempt to understand the sibling rivalry (both sides), the attitude, the laziness, or whatever else is happening. Only from a place of understanding where your child is, can you truly bridge the gap between where they are and where you want them to be. And, in this process, you teach them how to communicate for the purpose of understanding and resolution vs. winning and control. It is a valuable life skill.
- Negotiate with your children. What is the outcome you are looking to achieve? What would motivate them to want to support that outcome? What is their desired outcome? What would motivate you to want to support that? How can you come together so that everyone wins? This is the most amazing conversation to have. You begin to understand what is important to your children. Even if they don’t get what they want, the information you receive is priceless. And, they get to understand what is important to you. With consistency, this can alleviate a lot of bickering down the road, as they get older.
That being said, the bottom line is … you are the parent. There are some things in life that are non-negotiable. There are times when you do need to stand up and say, “Get that done … now.” That’s okay too. When you start from curiosity and understanding, and then pull your “I’m the parent” trump card, you do it from a place of wisdom, rather than upset. That is a great place to be.
So, the next time you are faced with behaviors that would normally create frustration and anger (and probably still do), remember to ask questions, get curious, and create a mutual understanding. You may still have to pull your trump card, but your children will trust and respect you more than if you simply tried to control them. This will make a substantial difference in how your resolve issues going forward, especially in the teen years.