I work with hundreds of committed, energetic, and amazing parents who all find parenting a strong willed child a struggle, and for good reason. The purpose behind what I do is to spread the word that you are not alone in your struggles and that things can get easier. As I reflect on my 22-year-old strong-willed child, I have the benefit of hindsight. I want to emphasize how CRITICAL it is to understand what is going on within these strong willed, passionate children. When I discussed challenging behavior in my three-part parenting series (which you can access here if you missed it), I addressed how our expectations, as well as their inherent inflexibility, are the primary causes of us becoming triggered. As a result, young children are constantly bombarded with negative energy throughout their childhood, which can have a negative impact on their self-esteem. Because of this, it is extremely important for us as parents to refrain from becoming caught in their anger and responding with a stream of; "Stop it! That's not OK. I can't handle your angry outbursts anymore!"
Take heart in the idea that you can reverse the unintentional barrage of misunderstandings, shame, and blame. You don't have to suffer in silence; you aren't the only one; and it doesn't have to be so painful.
But it's difficult when we have hundreds of tasks to complete and when we ask for some help, we frequently receive attitude, inflexibility or anger instead! Isn't it reasonable to get cooperation when we ask?! Here's one example from a Mom who wrote in: "Hey, I’m struggling bad at the minute. My 6 year old is talking back and shouting, totally disrespecting me. She also does the opposite of what I tell her. I have MS and get very stressed about it. Any tips appreciated please."
So what's going on?
The secret is counter intuitive:
We need to validate, not fix.
Sounds simple, but it goes against years of family and societal conditioning.
There are 5 crucial things to learn about anger that most of us were never taught.
Our child's anger is NOT about us. Neither is their behavior. Neither is their tone, attitude or loudness. Yes, we may become triggered as a result of our perceptions of the child's feelings and actions, which we believe should not be occurring.
Their anger is a gift bearing a message; it teaches us what is truly important. It is a compass pointing us in the direction of their unmet needs.
Brene Brown asserts that all emotions, including anger, are felt as energy in our bodies. According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, emotion's energy evaporates after six to ninety seconds if it is not re-triggered by a thought.
Humans are intended to experience anger fully, rather than merely contemplate it. Additionally, anger was never meant to be aimed AT another person.
To properly experience anger, it must be heard, moved, and validated in order for its energy to be released; otherwise, it becomes stuck. Anger doesn't want to be fixed or given a logical solution.
It's no surprise that most of us struggle with anger because these are new concepts to most of us, and most of them were not modeled to us growing up. Seeing it in our children and going through it ourselves without becoming trapped is always a challenge. Exciting news! I've just released a new online course called 'Facing an Angry or Inflexible Child.' This course will teach you how to use proven scripts and practices to support you when your child is angry. Many of us have learned to suppress our anger so quickly that we are on autopilot before we ever recognize it. Or we immediately withdraw and numb out with food, social media or other distractions.
Because, let's face it, most of us struggle with anger.
It's bloody uncomfortable, can feel out of control and destructive, or at the very least messy. It's no surprise that we avoid and suffocate it swiftly. However, as I've realized over the last 15 years, controlling anger means suppressing life energy and what matters most. What you'll learn in the online course is as follows:
Trying to control our child's anger, invalidates them and blocks their emotional intelligence; they don't feel seen or accepted.
How to listen to anger without becoming overwhelmed by it.
The skill to S.T.O.P., a practice for changing how both you and your child responds
Will you join us?