The 3 great questions!

December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized by Hilary Akman

708436_NIMI want to share 3 great questions you can ask yourself whenever you are about to engage your child to cooperate with you. Put simply, to listen! There are times when we just want our kids to do what we ask because it would make our life easier. I get it! We have places to go and things that need to get done.  It would make our lives so much easier if our kids would just listen so we can get on with our day.

But people, and kids are no exception, don’t always do what they should.

When children feel right on the inside they can act right on the outside.  But when something doesn’t feel right because they have a basic need that is going unmet, that gets manifested through undesirable behavior.  Behavior is a symptom of something much deeper that is going on for your child.

If we can stop taking their behavior so personally and stop making judgments about their behavior (She’s being such a brat!) and stop ourselves from becoming so reactive, then we can create a space of figuring out what is going on for them so we can help them feel right.

These are  3 questions you always want to have in the back of your mind when you interact with your child:

1. What is my child likely to conclude after the interaction we just had?

  • All that really matters are the beliefs your child forms about themselves, because these beliefs formed in childhood continue with them throughout adulthood. Will they conclude, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m a failure”, “I don’t matter”, “I’m only lovable when I do what others want me to do”.  As a therapist, I work with clients whose core beliefs such as these are still ruling their life. These beliefs manifest in behaviors such as explosive tempers, approval seeking and people pleasing, dissatisfaction in relationships or multiple failed relationships, depression and anxiety.
  • Threats and punishments, rewards and brides can all impact children to conclude negative, dysfunctional beliefs about themselves that do not set them up to succeed in adulthood.
  • As parents, we really have the power to help children conclude positive core beliefs about themselves so that they can thrive and create meaningful change in their life.  When you grow up feeling that you are a failure- these things don’t happen.

2. What is the COST to get my child to do what I want them to do?

  • We all want our children to learn how to function in society. Without a doubt, there are things that are absolutely not tolerable.  You might be able to stop your child’s undesirable behavior through punishments, time-outs, taking privileges away, withholding your love and affection, but at what cost to them? The cost is usually low self -esteem, increase aggression, and lower emotional intelligence. Because the focus is only on behavior and not the underlying feelings. Once you peel back the layers of the onion and get to the feelings the behavior typically resolves it self.  Now they don’t need to act out their feelings anymore!
  • Many parents think, “But they need to learn…”. Yes, children do need to learn what behavior is OK and what is not.  They are experimenting with all of that into adolescence.  How are we teaching them? They usually aren’t learning the lessons we think they are through these methods.
  • How can we expect our children to stand up to a bully when we demand blind obedience from them? How will they learn to question when something isn’t right when we don’t allow them to respectfully question us?  We are the ones they feel safest with.  If they can’t do it with us, they are not going to be able to do it to a boy pressuring them into something they don’t want to do, or that bully who is harassing another child, or the employer asking them to compromise their values.

3. What would best serve my child right now?

  • Negative behavior is just a symptom that something doesn’t feel right for them on the inside. Our job is to be little detectives and help them to feel right on the inside so they can act right on the outside. That way they can get really good over time at identifying when they don’t feel right and how they can regulate themselves.  We are the emotional coach for our children so that they can do it for themselves later on.  What a gift to give them!
  • We have all had those moments on the playground when our child’s behavior mortifies us! When their behavior is not in alignment with the values we are teaching at home.  I have been there. We feel the judgmental eyeballs boring a hole through us.  This is the moment to ask, “What would best serve my child right now?” Not, “What are all those parents expecting me to do so that they will think I am a good parent?”
  • Sometimes what is best for your child is leaving the playground, not to punish them, but so that you don’t explode on them because you need some time away from judging eyes to calm down so you can best think about how to handle the situation. Or maybe it is leaving in order to make sure other children are safe and your child isn’t able to do that now.

It is about taking the long view of parenting vs. the short view.  It is about considering the whole child vs. solely focusing on behavior. We are raising future adults! Parenting isn’t for wimps!  Our job as parents is to help our children form positive beliefs about themselves and the world. I hope these 3 questions will help you do that.