I’ve been coaching a lovely Mum who’s been finding her 13 year old daughter very challenging recently with her attitude and it got me thinking about the power of our emotions which can either create or break the connections of family harmony.
As a parent you probably find, like me, that you sometimes compete and take your child on. Other reactions may be to avoid the confrontation completely, deny it or you may (if you are wise) use the situation to learn more about yourself as a parent.
I know that I am definitely a work in progress, as I sometimes compete head on reacting to the situation instead of pressing my pause button and stepping back and being in control of myself first!
The Sue Atkins Camcorder Technique
As I was coaching we talked about my “ Camcorder Technique’ which is an imaginary camera that sits on your shoulder helping you to remember to stay detached sometimes from the situation that you find yourself in – it’s there to help you to step back and listen to the words you’re using, the way you’re using them, and to notice your body language and your breathing and to observe the situation from the view of a detached observer.
It’s really helpful and it’s a good idea to give it a booming voice in your ear that says “So what do you choose to do now?”
Reminding you that you always have a choice in how you respond to your kids.
All our emotions are a call to take action. Your strong emotions are sending you messages that can really teach you something if you listen carefully to them.
Anger or being resentful, furious, livid or enraged is really telling you the message that your standards or values have been violated. But do your kids actually know your rules or values – have you clearly and calmly spelt them out (without nagging!!) And are you really clear about what they are yourself?
Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down your rules, values or principles that are most important to you – you may find the list is too long, too short or not clear in your own mind so by writing them down you get clarity and then you are able to pass them on to your kids in a way that clears up any misunderstanding and also gives you the opportunity to explain the reason why they are so important to you.
The solution to anger is to realise that you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted the situation and a really empowering question to ask yourself is:
- What do I need to do to keep the relationship I want in the long run?
By changing your perception you change your emotional response to a situation which gets you back in control.
Look at your routines – if you keep getting angry and the same thing keeps on happening, do something different.
Change your voice, your expectation, attitude or your behaviour.
Your strong emotions are offering you messages and a call to action, so step back and have a look at the underlying message and reflect for a moment or two and then take a new positive step in a different direction!
Frustration is like being stuck in road works and the message is actually an exciting one, as it is a signal that your brain believes you could be doing something better – which is very different from disappointment which is a feeling you’ll never achieve something.
Frustration means the solution is within reach and you just need to hang in there or look at the problem from a different angle.
One solution to frustration is to brainstorm lots of new and different ways to get a result and to get curious about how you can handle the challenge more resourcefully.
I often work with parents of teens who are “disappointed” with them. Disappointment is a feeling of being “let down” and can be devastating for parents so it needs to be reframed quickly.
The message from disappointment is that an expectation hasn’t been met and is probably not going to be so the solution is to change your expectation to make it more achievable – and maybe more appropriate perhaps to your child’s age or maturity or ability to take responsibility.
When I work with parents who are disappointed with their children, regardless of their age, I help them set a new goal immediately that can be achieved to make everyone feel more positive and successful and quickly moving in the right direction.
It’s about learning the lesson from the experience, absorbing it and moving forward in a smaller more achievable step.
It’s also about realising that sometimes parents judge too soon and that “God’s delays are not God’s denials” as Tony Robbins wrote in his great book “Awaken the Giant Within.”
It’s sometimes learning to manage our own expectations and realising they may not be our children’s expectations or goals for themselves.
When I work with Working Mums I look at “Big G” as I like to call it, or guilt and overwhelm. They all have messages but that’s for another blog I think!
If you’d like to explore further what your strong emotions like frustration, guilt, disappointment, feeling overwhelmed are teaching you I go into more detail in my “Parenting made Easy – How To Raise Happy Children” book
and in my “Navigating The Choppy Waters of The Teenage Years”
and if you’d like to work personally with me just give me a call on 01883 818329 or drop me an email to [email protected]
And by the way the lovely Mum and daughter did sort it out over a trip to buy some new earrings and a pair of jeans in Coventry and by setting some new expectations for them as a family!