Leave that alone!
Stop doing that!
No you can’t!
Put that down!
Listen to me!
3 Magic words? Nope, none of the above. Nothing magical about those.
Last week, whilst trawling the aisles of Sainsbury for Umami, I overheard a young girl screaming at her child. All things considered, she may have had a bad day (it must have been really bad). Perhaps she was hormonal? Or maybe she was deaf and didn’t realise how loudly she was screaming? She was at one end of the aisle and her toddler at the other.‘Oi! Oi Oil Oi!’ she yelled. Then when he didn’t answer, ‘OOOOOOII!’ at the top of her lungs. I wonder what his real name is?
Did screaming hurt her throat or make her blood pressure rise? Worst of all, did she terrify that little boy? Actually, he didn’t appear to be terrified at all as he ran off in the opposite direction. Whoops. Cue more screaming and chasing whilst horrified shoppers looked on.
“Because the dirty little secret of yelling is that it is a parental tantrum. It erodes our child’s respect for us so she is less likely to “follow” our guidance.” Dr. Laura Markham, Peaceful Parenting
There was recently a blog post about how Mums never talk about the rage that sometimes takes over you when you’re at the end of your tether with your children. The part of parenting that nobody talks about. I don’t think the Sainsbury Supermarket Screamer was having a bad day nor was she deaf. In my opinion, she didn’t consider her child to be worthy of respectful behaviour. I saw her and her friend later on their way to the checkout chatting and laughing together. 🙁
Every parent is imperfectly perfect
We are humans and not robots. Some days it goes really well and other days it all falls on its bottom and we wind up feeling frustrated and impatient. That is life! Instead of trying to control the things around you that you have no control over (your children are included in this list), learn to love what is . Appreciate this strong and inexplicable bond between Mother and Child as sacred and special.
Why would you want to break it with shouting or harsh words? Why would you want to terrify your child and put fear into them so they do what is required? Because this is the way you were brought up and it comes naturally to you perhaps? Or maybe you don’t like it when things feel out of control? If it makes you feel any better, you are reading the words of the world’s biggest control freak, so I’m with you on that one 🙂
“Part of the myth of parenting is that you can control your kids, that you can somehow wave a magic wand, or that you can, by force of will, exert your authority and your children will respond. When you have a child who is so defiant that he says, “I don’t care,” when you punish him, then you have a problem on your hand that seems unsolvable.” – Brian Gresko, Babble
Anyway, judgemental or not, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a better way to speak to your child that got the desired outcome. I’m passionate about children’s well-being and recognise that their fragile little hearts and their beautiful little souls need to be gently nurtured and abundantly loved as they grow into well rounded and happy adults. Nothing pains me more than hearing this kind of supermarket screaming situation. This post is not meant to be a rant so I shall get to the point.
“If you press on past your comfort level, it won’t work for anyone – even when you think you’re giving your child what they’re asking for. They’d much rather have you calm and cool and staying regulated, than get what they want and have you freak out. In pretty much all matters, it’s better for the child to have the meltdown than the parent.” – Carrie Contey
As a Coach, I am big on connection. I connect with my clients when they come to see me as I know in that trusting connected space, little miracles happen. You need to connect with anybody before you communicate with them. However, more so with children who regularly need to feel that bond and feel safe. That means going to your child and making eye contact. I believe that you can still set boundaries firmly and fairly whilst communicating lovingly and with respect.
No nagging – say what you see
Making small differences to the language you use, makes a big difference to the response from your child. Do you remember that programme Catchphrase with Roy Walker with Mr Chips? A picture would flash up on the screen and the contestant had to guess the catchphrase. Roy Walker would interject in his strong Irish accent; ‘Say what you see!’
I see wet towels on the bed. Wet towels live on the radiator or in the wash basket.’
(or wherever they live in your house). After a while you can just say ‘Wet towels’ and kids are smart enough to fill in the gaps. When we nag and nag at our children, they zone out. Even when we turn the volume up, they can’t hear if they are not connected (they will not be connected if you are shouting loudly).
3 magic words to transform screaming to peaceful
1. Breathe – regulate your own emotions. Look at what your child brings up for you and notice there is work to be done. Children are mirrors of us and they force us to look at our stuff whether we like it or not. They are not doing it on purpose even though sometimes it feels that way. I like this helpful 10 step plan.
2. Connect – I have written many times about connecting with your child and I have learnt this from Dr. Laura Markham whose book “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How To Stop Yelling and Start Connecting“. Dr Laura says: “The book walks parents through these three steps to transforming their parenting. I have seen hundreds of parents suddenly realize that it has been months since they yelled. It’s hard work, but any parent can do it. My book gives them the blueprint.”
3. Coach – there is a difference between coaching and controlling. Coaching is about listening, asking questions, encouraging, empathising and understanding. If you are struggling with the difference, ask yourself: ‘What would love do?’ You can read more about this in one of my favourite books ‘How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk.’
Magic words to say to your child
There is a time for setting limits and for showing the right way, but there are also words that children long to here. They need to hear them on a regular basis as we are also their mirror. They don’t know how they are and are still working that out. What you say to them, they make sense of and take away. They can lock words deep in their hearts so make sure that for every criticism, there are plenty of loving and encouraging words. See how many of these you can fit into a week or maybe even a day.
You can do it
I love you
You are great
Well done Olivia
Well tried Hugo!
Good effort Lisa
Don’t give up
I’m right here
I’m with you
I get it
I understand you
I see you
I hear you
You are safe
Come up with your own magic words to make sure your child feels cherished and loved; that sacred love from a parent to a child (and vice versa) that is so very special.
Image credits © chrisdorney – Fotolia.com