Do you ever think to yourself, “I wish I could stop yelling at my kids”?
I get it!
Yelling was my vice, and the ensuing guilt was what motivated me to parent differently.
The thing is—when you are trying to do away with one behavior, you have to replace it with another, or you will just revert back to your old ways.
That is where this phrase comes in. When I find myself at my wit’s end because:
* they aren’t listening
* they are being disrespectful
* they are snapping at their siblings
* or a multitude of other frustrating scenarios…
I pause, make sure I am regulated (meaning not snappy or sassy myself), connect with them through eye contact or a gentle touch, and say to them, “Can you help me understand?”
* “Can you help me understand why you are not getting ready for bed, when I have asked you to do so multiple times? I’m feeling pretty frustrated.”
* “Can you help me understand why you seem so annoyed with me?”
* “Can you help me understand what’s causing you to have a hard time with your sister right now?”
* “Can you help me understand whay you are struggling with right now? You don’t seemlike yourself.”
One of the principles behind positive parenting is the belief that children need to FEEL better in order to DO better.
So, when your kids are not being the best versions of themselves, you can assume they are not FEELING like the best versions of themselves.
Yelling at them only exacerbates their uncomfortable feelings, and it causes their defenses to go up.
By offering connection and empathy, you are giving them a safe place to express their feelings or needs.
Most of the time, especially for preschool and elementary age kids, they aren’t fully aware they are feeling off.
When you gently point it out, and offer support, you help them to make the connection between what they are feeling and how they are behaving.
And that is self-awareness, which is exactly what they need to learn in order to handle their big feelings effectively.
Let me ask you this — when you are feeling off, and even a little snappy because you are having a rough time, how would you want your partner to respond to you?
By yelling at you to change your attitude?
By telling you to go to your room until you can be more positive?
Or by checking in with a connecting and empathetic “Can you help me understand”?
Your kids want that, too.
Have a wonderful, connected week with the ones you love!