In parenting, there is so much emphasis on the children and their behavior but we have to remember that there are all these other relationships contributing as well. Primarily the one between you and your partner. In our organization, we have a lot of moms who tirelessly spend time taking care of everyone else. Leaving their needs for dead last. What we need to understand is that this is a package deal. We want you to have great relationships with your children, be loving and powerfully connected to your partner as well as having a fulfilling connection with yourself. You can’t do that if you are never filling your own needs.
This journey started for me when my child who is now a teenager was just 5 years old. We were moving out of the sort of happy toddler stage; where everything is sweet watching all their firsts in life. I found that the transition from toddler to teenager years brings the development of new found ways to get what they want. Sometimes those ways are positive and other times not so much. I found myself being challenged as a parent. Not only in my connections with my child but in my own emotional responses.
I would get angry and frustrated with my child whom I love very much. As a result, I would speak to them in a way that felt mean and scary; all in the name of getting them to respond in a certain fashion. It made no sense to me that the best I could come up with to get them to behave was to make them feel worse, first? I knew that was not going to work long-term. I decided to join a local support group where I learned some tools and techniques for calmer parenting that I want to share with you today.
There is a 3 step roadmap that we take people through to help build the skills for a more relaxed parenting style. We will be delving deeper into each one in a new post so please check back for those. By practicing these steps you will start to build an awareness of what is really happening when we are in the midst of a stressful situation with our kids.
The thing about bad behavior is that it is not really all that complicated. Instead of complicating it further with our own emotional outbursts, we need to start to look for solutions that do not involve the use of fear to frighten our children into compliance. When we bribe, yell and take things away, it is a sign that the toolbox is not full. We need to learn new options to apply that will turn the behavior around.
3 main reasons for bad behavior –
Reason Number One – Reaction Parenting –
If we are not taking the time to calm down first; our anger and frustration tend to take over the situation. It is difficult to deal with anything rationally when we are upset. Something happens in the prefrontal cortex of the brain that temporarily disconnects us from being able to deal with emotions and solve problems creatively. We instead turn to fear to get our child to comply with our wishes. We need to spend the time calming ourselves down first. This will allow us to think and respond rationally.
Reason Number Two – The Hidden Agenda –
Why is the behavior happening? This is something I did not really understand at first. It is not the actual behavior we should be focusing on, but instead what is the reason behind the bad behavior? We call this the “Hidden Agenda”. The term simply means “unfulfilled needs”. It means we should spend time looking at what is happening behind the behavior. We have to try and figure out what the child is lacking that has brought out this kind of action. There are only four possibilities in the hidden agenda; attention, power, revenge or inadequacy. Sometimes in trying to figure it out, we guess right the first time around and everything works out. The next time a similar situation arises and we try to use the same tactics only to find, we fail miserably. Why does this happen? Because it is a different hidden agenda. When we are winging it, we only have a 25% chance of guessing the right reason. That leaves us with a 75% chance of guessing it wrong and making the behavior worse. We will do some further exploring on what the specific hidden agendas are and how to correctly respond to them in our next post.
Reason Number Three – Not Being Proactive
You’ve heard the expression, “No news is good news.” Well, that is not always true when it comes to parenting. We think, “They are not misbehaving in this moment, therefore there is nothing for me to do.” Think of a pro- athlete and how they spend their time outside of game day preparing for the next one. The same applies when it comes to being parents. We need to take the time to learn some new skills, model them for our children and influence them to use those skills for themselves. We need to get really good at redirecting them. Preparing ourselves ahead of time with the tools and techniques we need will not only stop the behavior when it is happening but it starts to prevent it from ever starting at all.