It’s common to get overwhelmed and feel stuck when you have a child who challenges your current parenting skills. Perhaps you’re trying to leave the house on time, get your child to bed, or effectively say ”No” to a request. In response maybe, like Silvia, you have a child who argues, yells, and gets very upset when told “No” and so does Silvia.
Silvia came to me for private parent coaching to learn strategies to help her not be angry and yell. She needed to know how to handle conflict with her very strong-willed child in a reasonable manner.
Before coaching a parent, they fill out a parenting assessment that tells me and them what they are thinking, believing, saying, and doing currently that isn’t working. Without understanding the causes of the problem, you can’t make effective parenting changes.
Trying out new strategies without a complete understanding of the current situation is like going to a doctor and the doctor says, “Try this pill and let me know if you feel better” without doing any diagnostic tests. This “hit-and-miss” approach is ineffective and can lead to worsening the problem.
You may also look for solutions online or in parenting books. Perhaps you find good ideas in my book for example, but if you don’t know the causes of the problem and how to effectively implement the new approach you could just end up frustrated and saying “it doesn’t work”. Thus, you feel hopeless and discouraged.
When Silvia came to me, she was very discouraged, however, she didn’t feel hopeless. She knew there had to be better solutions that she could get from an expert. Silvia heard about me from her personal therapist.
There were 5 main areas that Silvia rated a “5” on her assessment that were her biggest personal challenges. These were the focus areas that she wanted to improve as we worked together for 3 months.
- Losing my temper and yelling
- Learning how to be a better listener
- Not feeling so responsible for my children’s behavior
- Being more forgiving of myself
What would you like to change in yourself?
On the assessment, she also revealed some beliefs and thoughts that had developed over time, and that were contributing to Silvia getting angry. Perhaps you have similar thoughts.
- You’re taking advantage of me.
- You turn everything into a power struggle
- This is manipulation
- You don’t care (what happens, how I feel, etc.)
How we think about our children has a direct influence on how we feel about them and what we do. Therefore, it’s crucial to self-reflect on and write down what you are thinking during a challenge or conflict.
Once we knew what Silvia was thinking and what strategies she was currently using, then we examined the conflict more deeply. Some of the conflicts needed her to use the Director Role and some needed her to use the Collaborator Role first and then the Director Role.
Regardless of what parenting role is needed, emotional connection is at the basis of all human interaction. Brain scientists have determined that our children need to feel emotionally connected to us in order for us to have a powerful influence on them. When we use threats and other forms of punishment, such as consequences, the emotional connection is lost, and often hurt feelings arise in both adults and children.
As a sidebar—Yes. Consequences used to be taught as a positive form of parenting. For many years now, discipline-based parent educators have discovered that a consequence often feels like a punishment. I would encourage you to stop this approach of trying to come up with a consequence. Feel free to contact me for more discussion on this topic of what I consider unhelpful consequences.
To make this article more helpful for you, I hope that you have chosen one particular problem that you want to solve and have started to analyze it as I have with Syliva. You have been learning steps in the Family Harmony Formula that I use with parents I am coaching.
Regardless of whether you need help setting limits effectively without getting a HUGE child outburst as Silvia does, want to do more problem-solving together, or want your children to share their struggles with you more, learning how to build a stronger emotional connection is key. Children will not listen to you if they don’t feel listened to at the appropriate time. (Not when you are a Director) It doesn’t work to first think, “How do I get my child to stop arguing?”
Instead, the effective approach is to think, “How can I create a solid foundation of an emotional connection so I will have greater influence during a conflict?”
You may be thinking, “I try hard to be emotionally connected but my child is putting up a wall.” This is a common feeling and roadblock. I have taught hundreds of parents steps 5 and 6 in the Family Harmony formula which gives solutions to this challenging question.
Step 5 – Stop Blocking
Step 6 – Listen Openly
Previously I was sharing how Silvia is working on defusing her daughter’s and her own outbursts. It’s important to understand that challenges are intertwined. How you respond when your child is sharing their own thoughts about their concerns impacts how they respond when you want them to do something they don’t want to do.
So, we started with evaluating how Silvia was responding to Beth when she was struggling. Silvia had to know how she was blocking communication with Beth before she could stop blocking. (Step 5)
I gave Silvia guidelines on how to talk to her daughter and get feedback about blocking her. Beth told her mom that she commanded her too much, with words like “stop crying” which made Beth mad and hurt. Silvia also tended to ask too many questions, the block Interrogating, which was another way to try and control and fix her daughter’s own problem.
Examples of her interrogating blocks:
“What did you feel?”
“Did you like it?”
“How did the class respond?”
Understanding how you are shutting down your kid which is making them hurt which leads to hurting you in return is crucial. I’ve created this step and concept as a key component for the successful reversal of parent-child conflict. If you skip this step, then attempts to get kids to cooperate will be fruitless.
So Silvia stopped blocking Beth and learned how to respond empathetically instead. This Step 6 is also unique to my Family Harmony Formula. My empathetic phrases are not about saying, “I understand. I’m sorry.” These don’t feel empathetic because you are saying “I”. In other words, you are talking about yourself, not your child. You can read more about empathetic statements here.
Silvia also learned that Beth was exploding because she has a big need to have power and she was getting it through the negative approach of rebellion rather than the positive approach of independence. So, Silvia learned how to not engage in the power struggle when she had to say “No” or tell Beth it was time to do something she didn’t want to do.
Knowing the right words to say with confidence to Beth, almost totally defused the outbursts for both of them. Silvia understood her daughter better so she wasn’t angry with her defiance. Instead, she thought, “Take a deep breath. How can I respond respectfully and clearly without giving in so I can get a better response from Beth?”
Silvia now has the tools to successfully interact without fear of her daughter getting upset. Beth still does at times however the outbursts are short-lived and Silvia has the confidence to stay the course with her approach and it’s working.
The Family Harmony Formula is a clear path on how to approach a challenge with clarity and confidence. Like a doctor who analyzes the symptoms and then gives the best prescription, this formula teaches you how to analyze your struggles and come up with the best Ally Parenting solutions.
Silvia is only one of the hundreds of parents who have successfully transformed their family conflict into cooperation. With this formula, you too can create a more harmonious family.
Check out my bonus parenting classes on getting kids to listen, be respectful, cooperate, and share their struggles plus more. CLICK HERE.
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Cynthia is available for private coaching sessions so you can quickly get the answers you need and make those much need changes right away. Click HERE for a complimentary 45-minute Fast-Track Clarity Session to learn what you can do now to create more harmony in your home.