What's the Formula For Frustration?
Do you ever find yourself confused, exhausted, lost, irritated, and even wanting to pull your hair out when your child whines, complains, disobeys, etc.? Opportunities for discipline tend to bring out the worst in me as a parent. I imagine you and I are probably not too different. The whining, complaining, disobeying, sassing, and pouting can trigger so very much. And then it can quickly spiral down into a parent-child fighting, crying, stonewalling mess. You can decide who is doing what.
If only there was a formula. I mean, science and math are jam-packed with formulas. So there’s gotta be one for parenting, right? I earnestly think there is a VERY fundamental formula that we could and should put into play. Now disclaimer…this is NOT fool-proof NOR a perfect formula. But I can guarantee that it will help you take leaps and strides in your parenting frustrations. Trust me, I know from my own personal trials. It is a good, simple place to start.
Whenever your child is stirring up feelings of frustration, anger, etc. the first step is to look at ME. Pause and breathe. What is going on inside of you? What is your first gut-level reaction to what your child has said/done? While your quick-witted tongue may want to spew all sorts of things outwards, instead take a moment to look inwards. What got triggered inside of you? Why is this such a trigger for you? The emotional reactivity being stirred up has MUCH more to do with ME than with my child. Look within first and foremost.
Once you have an opportunity to self-reflect, then and only then should you turn towards looking at your child. And instead of looking at your child as a project to be fixed, look at them with ears to listen and eyes to see. Try to gain understanding into what is going on inside of your child. And if you have an emotionally internalizing child, like I have one or two, this could be a major step of patient reassurance. Sitting in silence may be part of this de-escalation. The goal is to get to your child’s experience while ensuring him/her how much you still love him/her and are for him/her.
Wrap everything up with a nice bow now. Alright it may not be that easy, but seriously now is when you shift from me then he/she to WE. It can be a team effort to talk about now what and next steps. Start in a stance of humility owning what may have occurred within ME. If you reacted shortly then own that and apologize to your child. Then review what you heard and saw happening for your child in the said incident and thereafter. Finally, come together as a parent-child team to learn the golden lesson here—now what? What do we need to work on should this happen again? Or what can we do to avoid this happening again? Note the “we” approach in this as again it is not just about your child changing his/her behavior. Everyone played a part and taking 100% responsibility for whatever percentage of a part played is crucial.
Hope that this helps refocus you if and when your child pushes your button or wears on your last nerve. It’s inevitable, it will happen today and tomorrow. But your old ways of reacting and responding don’t have to be too far gone. Try something new today and maybe this formula will take things in a fresh direction for you and your child and your relationship. I know it has helped me tremendously.
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