LESSON 1: Scripts to Compliment the 3 Vital Things
Download and read over the Scripts to Compliment the 3 Vital Things I Wished I'd Known Sooner to Parent my Strong Willed Child.
LESSON 2: Integration Journal Exercise
Think back to a recent interaction with your child when you got triggered. What was your internal dialog? Were there any "You should..." or "They shouldn't have..." (It's normal if there were.)
Did it feel like a power struggle? Like you were on opposing sides?
Which of the scripts below would have created a come alongside connection instead of a power struggle between you?
What to say when your child feels controlled & reacts/resists/disrespects/yells/lies/steals
"Sounds like something is really important. Tell me more. What do I need to know?"
"Of course you want to play with the ___________(crayon/lipstick), it looks just like a fancy cool crayon that opens and closes.
I know you are sad that I have to take it away.
I know it must be so hard to understand. It must seem really unfair.
I feel sad that you want something that I can't give you.
But I am your mom and it is my job to keep you and our home safe, so I'm going to take the crayon away because it isn't really a crayon, it is a lipstick. This is how a crayon and lipstick are different and that's why I can't let you play with it."
Pro Tip: Validate and mirror emotions. Empathize. See them, hear them. Set and hold a limit with kindness and give information.
What to say when your child needs clear boundaries and expectations but hates to be told what to do
"Let's work together. The big goal here is...(getting to school.) There are tons of strategies to get there, what matters to you most? "
"I think I'm stuck in strategy, needing to be right. Let's get underneath, to our needs. I'm needing Ease and Partnership. How about you? "Understanding? Power in Your World?
"You have good ideas too. Tell me more. What would a win for all look like here?"
Pro Tips: Validate their experience, no matter how far-fetched it sounds, as they will feel heard and become more receptive and less defiant.
First key is to work with and recenter your own reactive state; consider taking a break prior to re-engaging so you don't unconsciously see them as a 'threat/enemy image'.
Second, respect and take them seriously.
Third, be brief, firm, clear; you are on their team. It's us against the problem.
What to say when your child is experiencing strong emotions
“That makes sense."
"I can see why you feel so angry."
"Wow, it sounds like you really feel ______ and it matters a lot!"
"Something's important. What are you needing? I want to understand you better."
Pro tip: Mirror what they have said and take them seriously, so they don't feel manipulated or patronized.
Validate what they have experienced.
Ask them to tell you more about the way they were wronged; underneath is a very real wound. This is our opportunity for them to feel like we have their back and are willing to listen, not like they are wrong to have those big feelings or act defensively.
Since you can't change all your old patterns at once which one script will you choose to start implementing today?
LESSON 3: Integration With Friendly Accountability
Journal exercise to integrate
Write down the scripts you are going to practice with the next time your strong willed child is resisting something. Refer to your journal and practice them for the next 3 days.
Check in with yourself at the end of each of the 3 days as your practice. How did your child respond when you showed up with different energy using these new scripts as a teammate rather than a 'me' - 'them'?
Note this in your calendar. Also note down 3 days from now a check in on behavior. Improved? Worse? Unchanged? Anything surprising.
Tell your best friend or Mom or Sister about this for friendly accountability.