Our feelings come from our thinking about a situation, or the meaning we personally make of it.
(Often, this interpretation of a situation, the “meaning making” happens so quickly that it is hard to catch)
When you get upset and reactive with your child, you have made meaning of their behavior, and it’s not a good meaning. If we make a good meaning of their behavior, the response is mature, constructive, connecting….
So, what negative meaning are you making of your child’s behavior that has you reacting in negative/reactive ways?
What gets you upset? Why?
What does it “mean” when your child doesn’t listen to you for example?
What does it mean if you think you child has “purposefully ignored” you? Sit and think about it.
It is not a done deal that we must get angry if our children don’t listen to us.
Getting angry only happens when the meaning you make is one that you decide is hurtful to you… a judgment on your worth for example. Otherwise there would be nothing to be upset about.
But what if we interpreted the child’s behavior as benign or innocent rather than harmful.
It’s your choice actually. It always is. It is your choice to make what meaning you make of it and then to react the way you do.
Does this makes sense?
We only react negatively when we put a negative meaning on the actions of the child.
But here is the thing. Children are not hurtful like this. They are actually usually too focused on themselves and their world to be trying to communicate subversive messages like this. And they are good, not malevolent.
The reason why we act negatively to a child’s behavior is because we have put a motive in their head that was never there in the first place, or because we are perceiving the situation as hurtful.
If that’s the case, don’t you think it would seem like a good idea to stop doing that?
What if you could see the innocence in your child’s actions? What if you knew that your child’s actions were just not conveying the negative meaning you thought they were?
What if not listening was really understood as:
“I am focused on what I am doing right now”
“I am overwhelmed”
“I am scared of you right now”
“I don’t feel connected to you”
“You have trained me to only respond when when you yell”
What if we saw the truth… instead of disrespect? Then we could address real root issues instead of going off of insecure assumptions that do nothing but to shame children, weaken the connection between parent and child, and protect the ego of the parent.
Better parenting requires that we suspend our insecure assumptions and look for the innocent truth that is present.