We need to end this suffering!
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I WAS RAISING MY KIDS or I WISH MY PARENTS HAD KNOWN ABOUT YOU.
This is a statement I hear from my clients all the time.
Sometimes after a day of ﬁve sessions where I listen to people from all over the world and virtually every walk of life share about their problems, I look at my parenting product and weep. I want so desperately to empower parents to help their children form positive rather than negative beliefs in their lives. I ache to end the needless suffering that people have in their lives as adults. Why would someone be afraid to speak in front of people when talking to people is not scary? Why do people have anxiety when most of us live in environments where there are no threats to our survival? Why are we depressed or unhappy when we have more than 98 percent of the people who inhabit our planet?
Why do we worry about what people think of us when most of the time it doesn’t really have an impact on our lives? Now obviously, those of you who have been following my work know that I’m going to say this comes down to beliefs. It is our beliefs about ourselves and life, most of which are unconscious, that are responsible for our suffering.
So, this blog is going to give you a few suggestions for quick changes you can make that will help your children be free from what ails most people.
1. I’m disappointed in you
Saying, “I’m disappointed in you,” is like telling your child that they’re a failure and that you don’t love them. It’s giving them the message that they are here to live up to your expectations. This leads to a life of looking outward rather than inward. It’s hard to be authentic when you’re afraid of letting others down.
Adults who have heard this in life grow up with a fear of not living up to peoples’ expectations. They are afraid to take a chance or make a mistake for fear of disappointing someone. They are afraid to take risks and rarely feel conﬁdent in expressing new ideas or their own desires. They often have a fear of public speaking.
What to do instead
Let your kids know that they are not here to live up to your expectations. They are here to live their lives and you are here to guide them and keep them safe until they can do that on their own. When they do something that can hurt themselves, others, or property; sit with them and have a discussion about consequences. Ask questions like “What happened?” “How do you feel about what happened?” What did you learn from the experience? What was the outcome you wanted? How might you do it next time? Depending on the age of your child you can help them brainstorm by playing the possibilities game.
Sometimes parents will say to me “how can I teach my child that what they did was wrong if I don’t punish them?” I always reply “did you ever notice that punishment doesn’t work?” If it did you’d only have to do it once. All children learn from punishment is resentment, revenge and to not get caught next time. They see themselves as bad. It doesn’t enhance your relationship with them because they get angry with you and it certainly doesn’t empower them. Recently I had a client whose parents used to take away his electronics when he didn’t do his homework. He is now in high school and the cost of this is getting serious. He’s a smart kid whose grades suffer only because he won’t do his homework. We were looking for what he believes that has him not to his homework and he said “I want to show my parents that taking my stuff away won’t make me change.” Interesting.
What to do instead
Get to the source of the problem. Sit down with your child and ﬁnd out what (not why) is going on with them. What do they feel when they.. What is it that they’re trying to get or accomplish from this behavior (whatever it is). Is there something happening at school, sports, the playground, that is upsetting them. Ask questions and play detective with them. Then brainstorm solutions that have will handle the problem for them.
Comparing is a tricky one because it may work. What do I mean by that? I always tell parents to beware of what works in the short run because it will come back to haunt you (or your child) in the long run.
Jim was compared as a kid and it motivated him to be the best. Unfortunately he is a driven workaholic whose relationships suffer because he’s always working. He says he doesn’t even know his kids. He believes “What makes me good enough is being better than others.”
It’s not that being the best is a bad thing, it’s when you are miserable if you’re not the best, and you sacriﬁce your quality of life to be the best that it becomes toxic.
When I was a child my dad used to always say “why can’t you be like Nina? She locks herself in her room and studies and get’s straight A’s.” I was a very social being (and still am) and my cousin wasn’t. I remember feeling like there was something wrong with me and I would never be as good as Nina, so why even bother? The truth was I was bored in school, and surely was not learning in my learning style. I was a visual learner in an auditory world. If my parents had known this they could have done something that could have helped me learn better. The comparison took away my motivation.
What to do instead
Find something that children are doing well and acknowledge them for that. Again, get to the source of the problem by asking questions and ﬁnding out why they are not motivated. Get educated about how children learn. You can Google information on Howard Gardners Multiple Intelligences, and discover how to help your child learn better. In my parenting course I give tons of skills and tools and to help motivate your child. Do your research and learn how to empower your child. Comparing always makes them feel less than and that never leads to helping to build self esteem.
This is something that parents do unconsciously. When you are angry at your child or with something they did and then you walk away, they feel unloved. Children do not have the concept of unconditional love and so they conclude that you don’t love them. Losing the love of the person on whom your survival depends is very frightening. A client of mine named Joe had a father who would stop talking to him when Joe did something he didn’t like. He ended up with the belief that if he makes a mistake or does something wrong he’ll be rejected. Since he has a fear of rejection he is terriﬁed to speak in public or anger his wife or his boss. He lives in constant anxiety of displeasing people.
What to do instead
Tell your child that you are not angry at them. That you are upset about what they did and tell them why. Have a discussion about the consequence of what they did and engage them in making this a learning opportunity. This blog would go on for pages if I told you all of the negative beliefs that arise from these behaviors and how they manifest but here are the most common.
- Im not good enough
- Mistakes and failures are bad
- If I make a mistake and fail Ill be rejected
- I’m a disappointment
- I’m a failure
- I don’t have what it takes
- What makes me good enough is having other people think well of me
- Im not capable, Im not competent, Im inadequate
These are the most common beliefs that people have. Now imagine what your child’s life would look like if they had these beliefs. Now imagine their lives with the opposite. What do you want for your child?