How can we parent with love in conflict? What can we do to stop our kids from hating, kicking, screaming, fighting, biting, and all those other behaviors that we find ourselves screaming:
“Stop, no, don’t do that. Don’t hit your brother, don’t kick the dog, don’t fight”
What really works to do that?
What I’ve found that works for me as a parent is to focus completely on what I do want my child to do.
This sounds easy, and really is simple, unless you’re in the habit of saying what not to do, in which case, it takes a bit of mental work on our part as the parent to translate and figure out exactly what we do want our child to do, instead of what we do not want them to do.
The more difficult this is the more of a reflection of our internal state, I find when I focus on what I want, for example, I want subscriptions on this video, I want you to follow me on Facebook, I want you to love and enjoy the videos, I keep putting out every day, that’s what I want.
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I want you to be the amazing, loving parent I want when I see you out to have your kids behaving well and you look good and all of us feel good.
If I focus on what I want, and how to do it, then that helps me to do the same with my children.
What I noticed with a lot of us as parents is we’re always saying:
“Don’t do that, stop doing that, quit hanging the dog, don’t hit your brother”.
The problem is we’re not telling our child what to do instead.
For example, with my daughter, she’s almost four years old, she has a one year old brother, often she will hit her brother push her brother, kick the dog, smack the dog, and then start fighting with her brother sometimes.
When I just say something like don’t hit your brother, that doesn’t work at all, because she doesn’t know what to do instead, what she’s doing is the best she knows how to do when she feels a certain way and something’s happening, she hits them. I must give her something to substitute in place of hitting him, I must give her clear instructions on what to do instead. It’s parenting with love.
Here’s what works and we’ve been doing this a lot with the dog. My daughter at four years old will get really kilted on the dog sometimes and he’s a big 60 pound flat coated retriever and he can take it and yet I it’s up to me to help her learn what to do instead of when she gets mad at him kicking and punching him, biting him, pulling him.
I’ve taught her something that works really well. I have said:
—Madeline, when you are petting the dog, we use open gentle hands on the dog. That’s what we do with the dog. When we get upset with the dog, we move away from the dog, you can yell at the dog if you need to but we step back from the dog when we are upset. We give the dog space when we’re upset, if you want to touch the dog, you touched the dog with open hands we pet him.
Therefore I show her how to maximize the good that we want done.
I was just doing the same thing literally five minutes ago with Madeline and her little brother Jack.
I was explaining to her when you take something from him:
—You’re big and strong, take it nice and slowly.
It’s understandable if he picks up one of her toys, she wants it back.
What I don’t like is when she grabs the toy and rips it out of his hand. What I would tell her to do instead is look, please grab whatever is in his hand and take it nice and gentle.
What I even did with her is said:
—Look, let’s practice this, give me your favorite thing. Pretend that I’m your brother. Now take it away from me nice and slowly.
She practiced that with me several times. Then she wanted to practice it with her brother too. This helps the behavior become conditioned to normal when there’s an agitated state.
A lot of us that understand ourselves as parents realize when we’re in an agitated state, we really need to practice healthy routines to take over at that point, because many of us that revert almost on autopilot when we’re upset or when we’re frustrated.
Whatever behavior we’re modeling with our children is what we’re teaching them by our example. If we rip things out of their hands when they’ve got something. How are we going to tell them to do something different?
What I’m modeling as a loving parent is the primary way I’m teaching my child what’s right. Therefore, when I take something away from her little brother, I do it nice and slowly as that is what I want her to do and that’s what I would want done if I was him, I wouldn’t want as a one year old baby to have stuff ripped out of my hands all the time by anyone.
When I’m petting the dog, I pet the dog with nice open hands, I show her the same way to treat the dog. When I get upset with the dog, I let the dog go outside and get away from the dog because the I’ve struggled myself with being physical with animals especially and when I would drink before which was a good motivator to go to Alcoholics Anonymous and to get sober and open up about these things.
Because any struggles I have or have had are things my children are likely to inherit either through genetics, or through unconscious mental routines.
A lot of us as parents, when we understand that some of the things our kids do that short circuit us most are things we didn’t like about ourselves.
How many parents out there get short circuited when their children lie to them and then the parents lie to the children just the same and don’t like that they’re doing the lying? And yet then when the kid does lie, it’s this really big deal.
I remember my parents, I spilled my mother’s perfume and I got yelled at and spanked and my dad was so upset that I lied about spilling my mom’s perfume.
Why did I lie about spilling my mom’s perfume when I was three years old?
Because I was afraid if I admitted to spilling mom’s perfume, I was going to get spanked and yelled at, I lied because I hoped it would avoid the expected punishment. Therefore my line was more a function of the normal treatment I was getting, than any indicator of my character.
We understand the behavior of our children trying to get the best response out of us even if that means they’re lying, because they’re scared of how we’re going to respond if they tell the truth.
We understand that we’re better equipped to deal with things when they come up.
My intention is to constantly prepare to be the best parent I can be and at the same time, I understand that even bad parents so to speak can be a good example.
If my father didn’t hit me when I was growing up, and he wasn’t horribly abusive, he spanked me frequently and I got different hitting and punching here and there. That was a bad example for me.
I understand that, that is something I am not willing to do as a parent, no matter what my child does, I don’t care what my children do, I will not hit them, or punch them or spank them because I understand how it is being on the receiving end of that.
Even seeing other parents out and seeing judgmental thoughts with other parents can be an indication of what there is to work on ourselves. From what I’ve seen, the majority of good parenting is how much am I working on and taking care of myself how good of a mental state am I in.
That helps me then to parent through the toughest times where there is love. Parenting with love through times when there is conflict. Sometimes it can seem like there’s this big positive reinforcement loop when we successfully apply these things.
They’re kind of also being a negative reinforcement loop that happens that I see parents go through often with, they get upset at a child and the child gets upset and the child does something and the parent gets upset and the parents get upset. So it’s the children and it just feeds and feeds and feeds and everyone is miserable.
In my view, it’s up to the parent to break that cycle. It’s up to the parent to lead by example, and say, okay, let what do we need to do?
How can we help each other to step out of that cycle of “Don’t do this, I don’t like what you did, stop doing that, don’t do that, quit doing this, don’t do that”.
It’s up to us as parents to do better to step out of that and say, Okay, here’s what you need to do. Here’s how you do it. Here’s how I deal with this when it comes up and then we have a chance at being parents that we’re proud of, at the end of our lives.
I understand it’s not a perfect process and there are mistakes and yet, even a mistake, because it’s a good learning opportunity.
The worst I’ve done is I’ve yelled at my daughter and since I very rarely do that she almost instantly will break down in tears because she’s sensitive. I’m happy with that sensitivity today because my father yelled at me a lot and I wasn’t very sensitive to his yelling, because he yelled at me all the time.
That was the best he could do. He did a lot more than that and his father before that did a lot more than that and we’re improving, hopefully, each generation.
The key for me is to look at how I feel in proximity to what I do.
Yes, if there’s any safety issue, like Madeline’s, about stepping out in front of a car, yes, that can be an appropriate time to apply the “y’all stop, stay or stay where you’re at.” Okay raise the voice and tomorrow, save a tone. But sometimes, that can make things worse, often being called is received better.
I got upset with the dog the other day after he knocked the baby over and I yelled at the dog to get out and what he did, he sat down because he was scared.
If I did just say get out calmly, or go outside, he probably would have gone right out. But since I was scared and upset that the baby had just been knocked over by the dog, and I yelled get out of the dog, the dog got afraid and then froze up himself instead of doing following the command.
A lot of us as parents, we have the opportunity to learn that our behavior drives a lot of what happens to our children and we get afraid and upset.
That will be mirrored in our children and the better we can take care of ourselves, the easier it is to parent when our children are upset because from when the children are upset and I’m not, it’s really easy to do a good job parenting.
When all of us are upset, the best I can do is fall back on my habits, therefore I intend to make good habits on a daily basis focusing on telling the child what to do, and learning how to be better and better and better.
This gives us the kind of children we want to be taking care of us when we’re older.
I hope this is helpful to you today for parenting with love.. I hope this gives you the chance to be the best parent you can be to feel good about the parenting you are doing, to look at everything, have the courage to look back and say, all the things I’ve done and been through before I’ve taught myself very well how to do parenting with love right now.
I’m grateful today I don’t judge or condemn my parents, they educated me on how to be the best parent that I feel good about being each day and that’s why I’ve shared this with you.
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