True Parent Struggles: Attitude, Listening and Life Skills (Episode 96)
In our final wrap up to this True Parent Struggles series, we address the other issues our listeners have shared with us - all about kids copping an attitude, not listening, and just struggling with basic life skills.
The best answer to all these issues starts with the example you model
It Starts With The Parents
In the process of navigating parenting struggles, it's so, so critical that you are parents are on the same team.
When you have a blended family, this can be even more difficult, as parenting differences can be a huge stressor. But the more you can be a united front with all parents involved, the better.
When you come together as a united front, you set the foundation so children know exactly where they stand and what is expected of them from all sides.
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Get real. Get serious. Be a united front. you are a family TEAM.
Where are we this week?
Follow us on our journey on Insta as the FieldTripGypsies!
It was hard to pick just one picture with all the fun we've been having lately! We took the girls (and Nathan) to their first ever BMX race - and it was the Nationals of all things!
I grew up with BMX, as my father and brothers were all #1 in the state of KY for their age groups, and my brother went on to be 7th in the nation. So much fun to share this experience (and those memories) with my family now!
Lessons in Attitude
When you are navigating attitudes, this comes from the swing of emotions that can be pretty overwhelming at times for any of us! As we've walked through the first 12 years with our kids now, there are a few elements that have really helped.
- Validate them - let them know it's okay to have crazy feelings! When our pre-pubescent daughter was struggling with her emotions, it was a huge relief to her when I sat down and told her it was completely normal and there was nothing "wrong" with her. She seriously thought something horrible was going on in her head.
- Learn to tread the water - Learn how to stay afloat so you can communicate with one another. Just like you can drown if you’re too frantic, you have to learn how to tread - to pace yourself, to keep yourself afloat - in order to navigate the raging ocean of emotion.
- Recognize their impact - Bring their attention to others and help them with awareness. Help them see how their attitude, outburst, etc can drastically shift the energy in a whole room, and how others respond to them.
- Get to the root - Go back to that whole concept of "What Is Your Goal?"
- Course Correct - Look for ways to course-correct by pulling back from the heat of the moment and asking them, "how do you think you could have handled this differently?” It’s amazing sometimes what insights they have that you may not have even thought of.
Give some space
Allow time for your children to process. Don't address an issue in the heat of the moment. Oftentimes they are way too in the midst of it all to be able to find any reason or logic.
Give them the floor to speak. In coaching, my policy is to listen 70% of the time, talk 30% of the time. Ask powerful and leading questions to help them navigate - but let them come to that conclusion on their own.
In the heat of the moment is not a good time. But don't leave it open-ended. Make sure you follow through with a conversation later on. Ask them how their reaction/attitude worked for them - did it give them what they wanted?
Trying to react to every "bump" is going to wear you out. Don't hop on their every move. Recognize that they will also grow out of a lot as they figure out their own boundaries and emotions.
Setting boundaries for toxic behavior starts in your home
It's not about changing the other person, but setting your own boundaries. When attitudes and emotions are taking over in the home, set some parameters around what you'll allow - how are you willing to be treated? Don't just excuse the behavior or try to fix it all the time.
As your children learn to navigate their emotions, it can be anger, disgust, sadness, fear, or joy, excitement, giddiness, etc, set some boundaries on what is allowed and what is not. Being in a foul mood is fine, but lashing out at everyone around you won't be tolerated, for example.
For more on Toxic Relationships...
Life Skills - Coping tactics start as soon as they start interacting!
The biggest thing to start is to simply include your children in your life. How do you navigate life skills? How do you create systems to help you navigate life?
Our daughter Clara wants to build her business selling her art. And quite honestly, she's pretty amazing at it. But she struggles with saying no and managing her time. Well, that happens to be a pretty common theme with many adults I coach as well.
Help them learn how to tread water by setting the stage for looking for solutions vs. survival.
Seek a life of solutions instead of survival
You never stop learning. We so believe in functional education and the importance of life-long learning. So as we navigate these waters and teach our children to tread, we're also treading alongside them and learning new strokes for both of us as we go.
Get them to listen
If you want kids to listen, show them by listening to them! Acknowledge that they are important, you value their opinion and voice, and you are willing to hear them out.
Be honest with your kids when you don't feel heard. Don't just get mad at them for what they didn't hear, but own the emotion you really feel - you don't feel heard.
This tactic has worked well:
- Stop everything and make eye contact
- State what you need and have them repeat it back
- Clearly lay out the expectation at the end - for example, we need to leave in an hour, so by that point this should all be cleaned up and you in the car.
- Show your appreciation when they get things right, when you do feel heard, and when you love what they've done. Be intentional about affirming, not just critiquing.
Your Weekly Challenge:
Give your child the floor. Set aside a time to just connect with them, and ask them questions. Listen 70% of the time, talk 30%. See where the conversation flows and what you may learn about how to connect with them better.
Get to know your child and what they want to do...and keep in mind their own beautiful personality style. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.
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