One of my sons has a problem. This problem is called Coming Out Of His Bedroom When He’s Not Supposed To And Sneaking Around “Collecting” Things.
This problem turned me into a mad woman. A mad woman with an axe to grind. The first few times it happened I was a calm mom. I handled the situation with ease and without yelling. I didn’t even consider it an anger trigger.
Then it happened another time.
And another time.
And another time.
And I could tell my consequence wasn’t working and became convinced my child had it out for me. He was trying to give me gray hairs.
He was trying to make a fool out of me for having a blog about being a mom when my own child doesn’t listen to a word I say and “borrows” jewelry from the women of the household to hide behind his rocking chair.
I’d gone off the deep end.
- pinpoint an issue
- draw out how it’s affecting you
- label what you don’t like about it
- determine areas of responsibility
- figure out how it’s showing up
- say what you’d rather happen
- brainstorm solutions
Then somehow someway, I remembered I’m the mother. The more mature one. The one who’s supposed to realize we cannot take our children’s behavior personally.
We can’t assume our children are doing anything “to” us just because their behavior is striking a chord.
How to Not Take Your Child’s Behavior Personally
It’s a struggle, for sure. But we are reasonable moms and I know, with encouragement, we can stop making it about us and realize it’s about them.
Remember They are Not an Extension of You
What, you say? They actually, uh, are an extension of me. Well, yes this is true! They are Mini Wes. But they are also their own individual people. They exist completely apart from us. If we were not here, God forbid, they would continue on.
They will make choices and think thoughts completely based on their own impulses, preferences, and compulsions. They may have personalities like us or they may not. They might look like us or they might be completely different in every way.
The fact is, just because we birthed them and have spent countless hours on their personal hygiene and feeding them… they don’t actually think about us that often in their decision making.
It’s not about us, it’s about them.
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Stop, Pivot, and Breathe
This is the biggest one for me. In my head I can conjure up “all the right answers” but in the moment Emotions Are King. If I can stop even just One Mississippi before exploding, I’ll make good choices. I’ll use proper tones of voice. I’ll get a grip on my emotions and be the calm mom I know I can be.
If you tend to overreact when something happens you don’t like, the best thing you can do is turn around. Physically turn around, take a deep breath (this will help get your heart and breathing rate back down and get the adrenaline to stop pumping), and think before you react.
If you do this you’ll have plenty of time to realize they are not trying to annoy you, give you a migraine, or multiple your gray hairs.
Their choices are not about us, they’re about them.
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Repeat to Yourself
I’ve read a few books lately that discuss the power of Affirmations. This is basically saying positive things to yourself until you believe them.
I believe this can be effective provided what you’re telling yourself is actually true. So if your child does something for the 15,356th time that day and you’re sure they’re just trying to make you nuts… tell yourself out loud.
“This is not about me. They did this because they wanted to. That is all.”
Get a Life
I am typing this to myself. Boy howdy do I need to get a life outside my kids. Not a life that prioritizes Things over my family.
Not a life that over emphasizes entertainment, fun, or selfishness… but I need to have enough of a life that I’m not completely emotionally intertwined with my kids’ actions and behaviors.
I know I do. Maybe you do too.
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Connect and Discuss
I have learned, from my 2nd born child, that kids do have reasons for what they do. And, contrary to what we believe in the moment, it’s not usually related to us. My kids know they aren’t allowed to come out of their bedrooms after we’ve done the wind down and bedtime routines.
Until they’re not afraid to walk down a dark hall to the bathroom, they have their own potties. One evening I was Past the Point and my son came out. He saw my face was about to transform into something not pretty and he said, “I needed to get my potty!!!“
This was a good idea. Yes.
Had I taken the time to ask (which I do now!) then I’d have known his behavior was perfectly legitimate. It wasn’t about me. It was about him. And that’s good, frankly, because I’m encouraging my kids to think on their own.
Kids are their own people.
They make their own choices.
If we’re too worried about ourselves, we can’t effectively connect with them.