As I walked beside the lake one morning, a bunch of deer flies swarmed around me head. At first, I swatted them away with reasonably good humor. When they would not leave, I found myself increasingly agitated. “It’s just a sound,” I reasoned with myself. “Why is it annoying you so much?” Yet annoy me it did. Each buzz in my ear, every dart toward my head, pushed me closer to the edge.
There have been times when the sounds of my children have had a similar affect on me. Their normal, child behavior rapidly changed me from a reasonable, sane woman to a crazy, raving one.
At my worst, I yelled at a newborn to stop crying, slapped a toddler who whined persistently, and snapped at young children for playing loudly. It is humbling to look back.
These days, my parenting is much gentler. You might think that this is because the children are older and it’s just easier. But that is only a small part of the reason.
Mostly, it is because I have done a lot of work on myself. After years of trying to make my children the way I thought they should be, I realized that they are just fine the way they are. Even I am fine the way I am. I simply need to make a few changes.
This, says Carl Rogers, is the curious paradox: When I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
Doing Our Own Work
As parents, we take our children’s behavior and appearance — their very being — personally. When our children won’t eat the food we prepared or wear the clothes we’ve laid out, when they scream and kick in public and encounter difficulties in school, we assume that we should fix the situation. We assume that we should fix our children.
In fact, our children do not need to be fixed. They need to be seen, heard, understood, and loved.
But how do we see, listen, and console when we want to scream and shout? One step at a time and not in the moment of our deepest despair, we change ourselves.
Learn new words to say. I recommend reading How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen and Listen So Your Children Will Talk, over and over if necessary. I read it many times. This book is easy to read and offers many scripts for speaking to our children.
Step into your child’s shoes. Take a minute to see the situation from your child’s point of view. While you see a child who is not cooperating, what is your child’s experience? Is she hungry or tired? Do the seams on the socks bother him to an extent you cannot imagine? Has the “nice” teacher spoken to her harshly and now she is afraid?
Look for the positive. Mary Sheedy Kurchinka, in her book Raising Your Spirited Child,makes many suggestions for seeing challenging traits as assets. Is your child stubborn, or persistent? Oversensitive, or perceptive? Bossy, or knows exactly what he wants?
Reconsider your foundational beliefs about yourself. We all have limiting core beliefs. They come from our early experiences, mostly those before age seven. These limiting beliefs drive our thoughts and behaviors. Fortunately, they can be changed effectively and, sometimes, quickly and easily, with techniques such as Matrix Reimprinting and EFT and other energy medicine modalities.
Tap. EFT is very easy to learn and very effective for reducing stress in the moment. Use EFT to honor yourself and your journey. Click here to see the tapping points and demonstration. Then, try tapping these phrases:
- Even though this has been really exhausting, I’m a good mother and I’m doing enough.
- Even though I haven’t done everything perfectly, I can love myself anyway.
I continue to work with practitioners regularly. For me, the support and guidance of a professional is essential in making major shifts. Any work that I do on myself translates to treating my children better, and that’s a very good thing.