It’s the festive season.
One thing for sure there are going to be moments of emotional overload, even for the strongest amongst us.
In order to enable harmony, it’s really useful to have perspective on what is and isn’t reasonable as we go through all the different cycles of events throughout the season.
One of the biggest considerations, and discussing in Dr Ross Greene’s book Raising Human Beings is, how are we doing in managing ourselves, first?
How do we know when limit breaking moves beyond what is developmental normal and healthy? Take a couple of minutes to answer these questions (honestly!):
- Do I find myself in a power struggle about a broken limit at least once a day?
- When I attempt to follow through on a limit, does it often take 30 minutes or more for my child to be able to move on?
- Do I often feel like I’m making “exceptions” to limits for the sake of avoiding a power struggle?
- When I attempt to stand firm on a limit does it result in behaviours that are disruptive to the day?
- Do I (or the rest of my family) often feel like we need to tiptoe around set limits in order to avoid a power struggle, argument, or meltdown?
- Does my child’s limit breaking often toe the line (or cross the line) of unsafe or unhealthy behaviour?
If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, your child is likely struggling with breaking limits and it may be time to revamp how you set limits AND how you react to limit breaking.
Your job as a parent is to set limits (aka healthy boundaries), and to coach your kid so s/he’s learns how to respond to them in functional and resourceful ways.
Our responsibility is to be adult in setting those boundaries. What that means is, avoid letting our “shark music” take over. Meaning even though our kid might be doing something we don’t like, is it something that is unreasonable to do?
If it is unreasonable, what is unreasonable about it? Depending on the answer, it can open up different potential solutions. The big thing is, as much as possible, to enable your child to be the solution finder. This is extremely empowering to them, and builds their skills in self- management and intrinsic motivation. Yes we are supporting them though the work is being done inside their heads, rather than passively from us telling them what to think.
Enabling security and trust
Children actually need limits to feel secure. That’s one reason why kids test limits – so they’re reassured that the limits are there. Otherwise for them, it’s unsettling to have too much flexibility. It can be a type of freefall feeling.
It’s accepting they don’t consciously go about testing us, they are discovering their world. Even older kids are seeking evidence to prove that we mean what we say, that we are trustworthy to be their safe-haven. That we love them unconditionally, meaning even when they are at their worst, we love them, even when we don’t approve of the behaviour.
One of the traps, especially for those of us who don’t like confrontation, or don’t want to seem “mean”, we can cave in. The thing is, in those moments, even though we don’t mean to, we break trust. We unconsciously send a message that they can receive as “we don’t know what we are doing”. Inside their heads, if we don’t know what we’re doing, how can they possible expect to know. After all, we are bigger and stronger, and we are therefore meant to be wiser and kinder.
Through limits, our kid learns self-regulation skills so s/he can make good choices in the wider world. S/he also learns about healthy relationships, and that he needs to take others’ needs into account when they make their choices.
Important to remember is that these skills evolve along the way. We must consider their needs (to be heard) and capabilities based on their neurological stage of development.
Raising Emotional Intelligent and Resilient Adults
At the end of the day, what we want most is to be supporting raise an emotionally intelligent and resilient adult. We don’t have to have succeeded at everything today in order to be heading towards success.
Raising children is a steeple chase, with dips and curves and hills and valleys. There’ll be days that are epically amazing, and days that we’re thankful for tomorrow.
What our children need most is our acceptance of who they are in the moments, even when we may not like what they are doing. That’s where we must focus our desire for mastery, to BE the model of the type of person we want them to be. Probably the type of parent we wish we’d had, even if we do love the ones we have. They too were imperfect in their parenting journey.
If you are in the trenches of parenting,
come join me in
the Conscious Wholehearted Parenting Tribe on Facebook,
where you can access tools, strategies and support, to assist you in raising children to become emotionally intelligent to meet the needs of Adulting in the 21st century.