If we want tame the overwhelm, who do WE need to be? We can’t wait around for everyone else to change first.
Listen: Scramble the letters and what do you get? SILENT. To listen we must not talk, nor may we think about talking. Our kids act, behave and do what they do because of what they think and believe. The most efficient way to know what they think and believe, and to modify what they think and believe, is to listen to what they have to say.
Refrains from commenting: Letting it go, avoiding mini-lectures (even if they are really super duper amazing!). If their shirt doesn’t match their pants, if they spill some Doritos when they are filling their baggie for lunch, when their hair is not your favorite, when they got a B on a test. You guys – lighten your load – every moment doesn’t have to be teachable!
Interprets our kid’s behavior compassionately: If they tidy their room by chucking everything into a “corner of shame”, notice the effort. If they wake up late, remember they were studying for a big test the night before. If they are watching lots of tv, maybe they are stressed (not lazy).
Notices improvement: They brought that C in French up to a B- . They woke up on time this week 2 times instead of zero times. They tried a vegetable. They ignored, instead of hit, their sibling. Focusing on lots of 2% improvements is more encouraging then focusing on everything that is going wrong.
Understands what is normal, passing and annoying developmental behavior: Two-year-olds say, “NO!”. Four-year-olds have tantrums. Teenagers roll their eyes. Most kids try lying. Most kids don’t really care about chores and won’t do them up to your standards until they pay their own mortgage. Trying to ‘parent’ your child out of these normal developmental stages is a giant waste of our limited parenting mojo.
We are up and ready to go before we start nagging children: We get off our phones. We worry about our own hair, weight, clothes before we criticize or lecture them about theirs. We have our own exciting new adventure where we have to learn something new and make new friends.
When we tame our own overwhelm FIRST, we become the parents our kids need us to be so our house and family can be harmonious (not quiet) and cooperative (not obedient).