Updated: Sep 18, 2022
STEP 1: SET YOUR INTENTION
Words are generated by thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are created by intentions. So… to change our words--really change them--we need to examine our intentions.
In parenting, there are only 2 intentions:
(1) to REACT from habit and unconscious emotional triggers from our own past
(2) to DISCOVER what your child is thinking and feeling and TEACH him how to go grow and learn through each experience
We want to respond and teach our children, rather than punish them. And to do that, we must choose our response thoughtfully. Use positive affirmations to set your own parenting intentions.
Here are a few affirmations to get you started:
"I seek first to understand, and then respond."
"I see all situations through my child's eyes."
And here's a REALLY good one to use when your child is throwing a tantrum and you feel like you are at your limit...
"This is a teachable moment."
STEP 2: KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
Once your intention is set, there is only 1 thing that can RESET IT: a "trigger." Triggers can change your best intentions back to an unconscious reaction in a split second. A trigger is a set of emotional memories and reactions that affect how we think and feel and respond to others. It's not conscious. That is what makes them so tricky to deal with.
Every parent has a set of "triggers"--behaviors that touch us so deeply, we instantly flip into rage or depression. Here's an example...
WHERE'S THE CANDY?
8-year-old Daniel was an only child. Both of his parent's worked so Daniel was at home with Betty, a kind elderly caregiver, two hours each day. One day, his mother noticed that chocolate and candy stored on a high shelf were missing. She had not thought to check it before, but now it was empty. "Daniel, do you know where the sweets went?" she asked. Daniel looked down. He couldn't bear to look at his mother. "Betty's dog ate it," Daniel lied. His mother knew he had lied to him and it really hurt. Until that moment he had not lied to her this way. She felt betrayed--she was lied to. Anger welled up inside her, knowing that he could say something so impossible to cover up his actions. "Shame on you. I know you are lying, Daniel!" she reacted. "Go to your room! I'm never buying any sweets EVER again!" Daniel's mother didn't even give herself--or Daniel-- time to review what happened and discuss it. She missed a positive teaching opportunity. If she had listened... - she might have heard Daniel say how hungry he was after school. - she might have been able to tell Daniel how important telling the truth is, to keep their relationship close and trusting. - Daniel and his mom might have created an agreement to always share truthfully, no matter what. - and Daniel would know that truth would always be met with love and respect. Instead, Daniel walked away with a negative life message: "If I'm going to take candy and lie, then I'll make up a better story."
When you know your reactions, you can stop your triggers before they happen.
Take a moment and examine what types of situations really make you happy or sad, angry or disappointed. Do you see a pattern?