What happens in your home when your child gets upset, angry or lashes out? Or they make a huge mess or fight with their sibling?
Do you sometimes notice yourself speaking to your children in the same way that you were spoken to as a child?
Do you find yourself blaming, threatening or yelling at them, even though you vowed that you weren’t going to do that?
Sometimes we get triggered and a reaction just bursts out of us. We say and do things to our child that we regret.
Does this happen to you? Would you like to reduce the yelling?
You’re not alone. This is something I’ve been working on for the last 15 years. I’ve managed to change the way I communicate with my children and dramatically reduce the frequency of my angry outbursts. I’ve got some tips on how you can do this too.
What can you do?
Notice your reactions.
The first thing to focus on is noticing your reactions; especially those outbursts that come with uncomfortable emotions like fear, anger or frustration.
The good news is that you’ve probably already made this step. Your awareness is already growing as you pay more attention to what you are saying to your children. This awareness can sometimes come as quite a shock, but try not to give yourself a hard time.
Understand where your reactions come from.
These ways of reacting were programmed into your mind when you were young. It might have come from your parents, or from someone else, but you can be sure that the pattern of judging, threatening, shaming or yelling was lodged in your head from somewhere outside of you.
It’s not YOU. It’s just old programming.
This old programming gets triggered by situations in our relationship with our children. You are innocent in all of this. It just happens. The programming runs on “autopilot” unless it gets interrupted or changed.
Interrupt the pattern with a new habit.
The next time your child gets upset and starts screaming at you, or attacking their brother or sister, see if you can pause rather than yell. Then try this as a new habit:
Listen to your child’s feelings and to what they want. Not what they are saying or doing.
Mirror their feelings back to them:
- “I can see that you’re very upset right now.”
- “I hear that you’re angry at your brother.”
Keep listening to your child express their feelings in whatever way they can. Let the content of what they say pass by as you pay attention to their feelings.
Then ask them what they want:
- “Do you want my attention right now?”
- “Can I help you with something?”
- “Would you like your brother to leave you alone?”
Offer to help your child if you can. Don’t feel pressured into trying to fix the problem or to make their feelings go away. Just keep listening until they calm down or a solution appears.
Above all, be gentle with yourself and watch out for your own self-judging thoughts. It’s taken me a long time to dissolve this old programming in myself and it’s still a work in progress. Every time the new habit of listening and responding comes in, it brings me greater peace of mind. I’d love for you to experience this peace of mind too, as your old patterns let you go.
Would you like more details on how I’ve reduced my angry outbursts and found peace and joy in parenting? You receive the first 50 pages of my book “Joyful Parenting” when you sign up to receive news and future articles here: https://www.freyadawson.com.au