Many Moms and Dads I work with ask how to get along better with their kids? What will help them fight less? How to get their kids to cooperate more? What can they do that will lead to less resistance and more ease and fun?
The shortcut answer is to validate their emotions first, problem solve second.
Too often we unknowingly have our 'Fix it' hat on and unconsciously jump right into problem solving whenever something happens. Like the siblings are fighting over who's turn it is.
Here's the key: none of these are actually problems to be fixed. They are emotions to be heard.
Brene Brown shows us how important knowing the language of emotions and experiencing the biology of them in her book Atlas of the Heart. Without them, we can't relate and connect.
So when I react, "Ugh would you two quiet down! It's Justin's turn! I can't think and I'm on the phone! Just work it out." They don't feel seen or heard emotionally. I'm unintentionally treating them like they are an object, not a whole person.
Try this shortcut to more ease instead:
Validate their experience and emotion first. This builds trust and connection. They feel seen and heard, real. We relate. Then if still needed, ask them what support would look like.
Say they come in and complain that their younger sister ruined their project.
The normal way of 'helping' them or 'fixing it' is to say: "Oh we can rebuild it." or "You know she didn't mean to." or "She's too young to know any better, did you forget to keep it up high?"
But all of these INVALIDATES their experience. We THINK we are helping them feel better, but instead we skip over their feelings of sadness, frustration, irritation, upset, anger, hurt.
Validating could sound like: "Oh, that sounds frustrating. It makes sense you feel that way. I hear you. I believe you. I would feel that way too. I know how important your careful work is to you, tell me more about what happened."
Then, "What can I do to support you now? Would you like a hug? Would you like to stomp on mouse pads together to express all that frustration?"
You'll be surprised how this 180 shift can create connection, build emotional trust and improve your relationship. It's like magic!
So the next time your oldest comes to you angry and in tears, or your teen complains of a heavy workload they are anxious about try this 180 shift and let me know how it goes...
Want more support?
Facing an perpetually anxious child who gets stomach aches before school?
Dealing with an angry child who resists transitions and picks fights?
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