Do you struggle to take control of the frustrations that your children have with everyday things like homework; getting up and getting ready for school; tidying their room, and so on? Since the start of this new school year, I’ve been trying to help my seven year old daughter overcome her frustration and anger when dealing with these types of situations.
My plan when she’s like this is for me to remain calm, but I always seem to end up raising my voice and having conversations with her that lead nowhere. It feels like we’re going through the days of the ‘toddler tantrums’ again, but at a whole new level.
Suspecting that I wasn’t helping the situation by being reactive, intervening, and arguing back, I knew I needed a new approach – FAST. I talked to friends and work colleagues (who have been there) and also went in search for a self-development book which would provide me with a few new skills (any excuse to buy a new book!).
At lunchtime yesterday, I stumbled upon a book called Parenting Without the Power Struggles (Raising Happy Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Collected) by Susan Stiffelman. I don’t know about you, but sometimes book titles just grab my attention, and before I even opened the book, I knew I was going to love it.
The cover had a nice calming picture of a family of four standing in a line on the beach, holding hands, and although you can’t see their faces as they are facing the sea – you just know they’re happy. My instinct was telling me to just buy it. I flicked to the index and when I saw that there were so many references to ‘frustruation’ (both for the parent as well as the child), I knew this book was for me.
The first page I read taught me a very important lesson –that we must allow our children to truly feel their frustrations so they can learn to cope and adapt. How simple but powerful is that?
Our natural instinct as parents is to cuddle the tears away so that they will be happy, and tell them everything is going to be okay. We try to make their frustrations go away by distracting them and taking their mind off it and never actually allow them the space and time to deal with it.
“When parents intervene because their child is frustrated – believing they are doing so out of love and care – they prevent him [or her] from learning how to adapt”.
Susan Stiffleman, Parenting Without the Power Struggles
I’m now realising that whilst both of my daughters are learning to deal with their frustrations and adapting, I just need to be there for them; be in charge of them, but not intervene, and certainly not try to control the outcome.
How many times have you seen your son or daughter cry because someone won’t play with them or they are arguing about who’s turn it is in a game, and then the next minute he or she is running around and laughing with that same person? In this example, you haven’t intervened and he or she learnt to deal with it and adapt.
“Tears actually release stress hormones and toxins” says Susan Stiffelman. Maybe that’s what they mean by ‘getting it out of your system!’
I’m sure this is one of many techniques that people use and maybe it wouldn’t work for everyone, but it certainly did for me - I was able to successfully put it to use last night and again this morning!
So, my question is, how you deal (or have dealt) with your child’s frustrations and anger?
Until next time…