Remember the TV show, Father Knows Best? The father was the epitome of calm wisdom. When one of his children misbehaved, it was clear that it was 100% the child’s fault for making him angry.
That generation believed it was a parent’s right to yell, punish, and shame kids into misbehaving. That’s just how adults are supposed to parent.
Why bring that up in 2020?
Those beliefs haven’t gone away. If anything, they’ve gone underground and are part of what’s blocking a parent’s ability to use a mindful authority. I hear parents tell kids, “If you’d just do as I say, I wouldn’t have to get so mad!”
Let’s explore that for a moment.
Imagine being a little kid again. Do you remember plotting to misbehave? I don’t!
I remember things happened to me because every day was a new day, one that I’d never experienced before. Every day held new opportunities for me to grow and learn. Sure, some opportunities came with corrections, but the world was new and full of mystery, and I was eager to experience all that it had to offer.
That’s childhood development, and we can’t change it.
When kids misbehave, and you become triggered, it’s wise to step back and ask yourself if your trigger really has anything to do with what your child did, or is your anger rising from something that impacted you as a kid?
If you’ve been reading me for a while you know what I;m going to say; your anger has nothing to do with what your child did, not really. Your child’s behavior ignited/triggered your anger, but that’s not where your reactions or anger started.
Think about it this way.
Believe it or not, your parents were children at one point. And their misbehavior triggered their parents, too.
I remember my great-grandmother complaining that she had to beat my grandfather to get him to cooperate. My great-grandmother’s frustration had nothing to do with my grandfather. Her reaction was a survival response. My great-grandmother was a child during the war. Her parents never spoke to her about the war or the fact that she had to cooperate or risk possible exposure or death. She interpreted her parent’s fear as the way adults raise kids. When she had kids, she insisted that all 6 cooperate or be beaten. Those memories, plus no explanation, is what informed her and motivated her parenting style.
Most families have experienced something that informs their choice to parent the way they do. They unconsciously pass those methods, even if they created pain, on to future generations.
That is until you were born.
You’re a different type of person. Deep inside you’ve always known that you wouldn’t treat your kids the way you were treated. And yet, you still react! Do you wonder what you’re doing wrong? You’re not doing anything wrong, you just need to change your perspective.
Being triggered is a blessing in disguise.
I can hear you now, “Woman, have you lost your mind?”
If you accept that being triggered is just a clue from your unconscious telling you that you have some pain that needs to be addressed, then you have a much great chance of being able to teach and respond instead of continuing to react.
How do you do that?
One step at a time, the same way we tell our kids to tackle big topics.
We all yell, at one time or another. You’re human. It’s what you do after you yell that’s crucial.
Begin by Stopping
The moment you become aware that you’re yelling, simply stop.
Tell your child, when I get mad and yell, I going to leave the room so I can calm down.
Once alone, begin asking yourself some questions. Questions invite your inner child to share what happened, how you felt about it, and the decisions you made as a result. This is your parental homework.
Ask yourself things like:
“What am I not saying about my feelings?”
“How do I really feel about the way I’m being treated?”
“Have I shared the truth about how I’m really feeling?”
“What’s my anger trying to express?”
“Has there ever been a person in my life who reacted this way or in a similar way?”
“As a child, how did I feel when my parent treated me this way?”
When you repeatedly ask yourself questions like this, images/memories from your childhood begin to surface in your mind’s eye. They won’t arrive at the exact moment you demand them to arrive, but the memories will come.
Think of these memories as clues to help you release what’s grown into anger. In other words, being triggered by your child’s behavior is a gift meant to help you transform your behavior into learning moments, just like we ask our kids to do, which is why I made that statement my tag line at Proactive Parenting.
Did this make sense to you? If so, please comment and let us know. If you like this level of support, join us inside Real Talk Parent Lounge on FB.