Our kiddos have unique needs and parenting them requires a unique approach. Traditional approaches do not work.
This means there is a bit of “unlearning” to do.
I say unlearning because it is important to be able to neglect the automatic, traditional parenting tendencies that are ingrained in us. Society teaches us what parenting “should” look like. We are fed messages from the media all the time. Naturally we have adopted the parenting approaches from the homes we grew up in.
There is so much shaming in the parenting world. Everyone believes there is a “right” way to parent. What’s important is to be able to parent your child in the way your child needs to be parented. This leads us to being able to unlearn – no matter what anyone says.
For our kiddos, it takes empathy. It means having a bit more sensitivity to the messages you’re relaying to your child. Tweaking your communication can be extremely effective.
Here are some common forms of communicating discipline or disapproval:
“You are a bad boy/girl!” “Bad! You are going into time-out!”
“Are you going to be a good girl/boy today?”
“You just love to see me get mad young lady!”
“You are a liar.”
If you notice, all of the above messages facilitate shame as a tactic. Communicating in this way identifies your child as a bad or good person. “You are bad.” It’s truly a strong statement. It also means that their character and who they are is dependent on the way they are acting. This is a poor route since we know that our kiddos can have challenging behaviors for many, deep-rooted reasons.
Due to their histories, many of our kids have low self-esteem and believe they are unworthy of positive experiences. To shame them for their behavior or choices validates and increases their negative perspective.
In fact, many unconsciously sabotage their relationships and positive experiences because of their past. When we express that they “are bad,” we are confirming their false sense of self. We risk them continuing to believe that they are unlovable.
Here are positive messages to relay:
“Whoa buddy, you seem like you need a time-in. Let’s hang here for a few.”
“I know it’s hard to sit still when you’re so excited.”
“I don’t think you’re ready to go outside just yet. Why don’t you hang out here with me for a bit?”
“Wow, you seem like you’re having a really BIG feeling right now. Let’s take a breather.”
“This kid I knew once had this big, dark secret. He was SO afraid to tell his teacher or his parents. It was so funny though – he told them the truth and they were so glad he did.”
Now, I know it might not always be easy to implement this approach when you’re feeling frustrated (hint: here’s a tip). You may need a breather first. However, it’s worth it. You’ll start to notice changes in your child’s responses and she’ll start to realize she is worthy of love – even when she makes mistakes.
What has your experience been? Tell me in the comments – which positive message will you try today?