Step 1: Describe the negative cycle in detail.
- What does your child/teen do repeatedly?
- How do you respond each time?
- How does your child/teen respond to your response?
Step 2: Analyze what you are thinking and feeling about your child/teen during each step of the cycle.
- Are you labeling your child/teen, assuming they are doing “it” intentionally, or magnifying the event? What exact thoughts do you have?
- What feelings do you have that makes you unable to respond rationally? Examples: hurt, rejected, discouraged, resentful, overwhelmed, worried, afraid, defeated, embarrassed, unloved, irritated, frustrated, guilty, hopeless, provoked, disappointed, concerned, cheated, ashamed,
- Are you feeling like the victim and powerless to change?
Step 3: Expand your perspective beyond yourself and explore how your child/teen might be thinking and feeling during the conflict cycle.
- Walk in their shoes. How would you be feeling and acting if you were the child/teen?
- What would you have wanted and needed from your parents to stop the cycle?
- Are you listening to your child/teen’s feelings and thoughts without interruption?
Step 4: Reflect on why your current parenting strategies aren’t working.
- Realize that the cycle will change when you first change your thinking, feelings, and actions.
- Honesty admit the effects of your current actions. What are you teaching your children?
Step 5: Shift your inflexible thinking to flexible thinking so you can take responsibility to start creative problem solving.
- Be willing to let go of thinking you are right and that you have the answers.
- Acknowledge that your current approach is not working and that you are willing to learn and change.
Step 6: Figure out who should make the final decision on how to solve the problem; you, your child/teen, or both of you together. This determines your parenting role.
- Problem ownership can change as your child matures.
- Be willing to set limits, find solutions together, or support your child/teen’s problem solving process when appropriate.
Step 7: Learn the 5 Step Problem Solving Process to finding solutions.
- Stop blocking communication
- Listen openly
- Discuss ideas
- Make a plan together or support your child’s plan
- Follow-up to determine success or try another idea if needed.
Learn about the Bridges 2 Understanding Parenting Approach
Watch Dr. Dan Siegel’s talk from his book called Brainstorm: The Power and Purposed of the Teenage Brain
©2015 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Family Success Coach since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 25 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.