Sometimes we respond harshly to our children, we say mean things, we shout and yell, or we threaten them. Sometimes our children’s behavior brings us face to face with our wounds from our childhood and we explode. Often we were shouted at a lot as children so yelling feels programmed into us. Parenting is the hardest job in the world. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and stressed and exhausted. When we add financial stress, a global pandemic and most of us raising our kids without enough support in our nuclear families, it’s understandable why we would act harshly at times to our beautiful children.
We know that it can be scary for our children to be shouted at so, when this happens, we often feel so guilty afterwards, so defeated. We tell ourselves we are bad parents, we are damaging our children and we need to do a better job. This in turn creates more disconnection and pain for ourselves and so we sometimes end up feeling stuck in a vicious cycle, wanting things to be different but at a loss as to how.
Aware Parenting supports us with both highly effective tools to be able to rewind and reconnect with our children after we have lost our temper with them and also with ways for us to be more resourced so we are less likely to shout in the first place.
This is a very helpful technique for when we have shouted at our children.
Rewind – firstly we rewind - we apologise for what happened, we explain what we were feeling at the time and that we were frustrated, angry or upset.
Repair - we let them know that it’s not their fault and that they deserve our love regardless of how they are behaving. We talk about their behavior and we remind them that we aren’t willing for them to do that AND that us yelling at them was not ok either!
Reconnect - And we ask to reconnect. We might offer them a big cuddle to help us all to feel close and connected again. We might invite them to play with us – any games that bring laughter will help them release feelings of fear or stress from how we have spoken to them, once they feel safe with us again. Power-reversal games, where our children get to be the strong one and the fast one, while we are weak and silly, are particularly helpful. We might try to say what we wanted to say at the time, but this time in a loving way. And we tell them that we aren’t always able to be loving and kind coz we are human, but we will try harder in future.
We can talk to our children and tell them that we are trying to work on not shouting at them when we are stressed and ask them to help us. We can invite them to choose a word to say to us when we get angry to help stop us in our tracks. This can be a really silly word that makes us all laugh and brings us back to connection in the moment or they might say “Please don’t shout at me – it is hurting my feelings” when we start to raise our voices. This empowers them to learn to stand up for themselves and to know that they deserve love from us. This also helps us to remember that, no matter how we are feeling, we still deeply love our kids.
When we do shout and react to our children in harsh ways, we can get support and listening from a listening partner or in a session with an aware parenting instructor or in a journal. The more our feelings are heard and released, the less we feel stretched and stressed ourselves and the easier it becomes to stop before we get to the shouting stage. When we feel supported we can take ourselves away to meet our needs and express our feelings instead of shouting. This feels so much better for us and for our children and modelling this self-awareness and self-care in the moment is so helpful for them to learn too.
Getting support for ourselves also helps us to not feel guilty but instead to offer ourselves self-compassion. This models to our children that imperfection is OK and self-forgiveness and self-compassion are vital for us all. By forgiving ourselves we are showing our children that no-one has to be perfect in order to be lovable. We just have to keep trying to treat our kids with loving kindness and respect and get support for ourselves when we need it.
Sending you love.