"You can't teach children to behave better by making them feel worse." Pam Leo
When I've made a mistake, the last thing I want is someone to make me feel worse about it than I already do. And yet that's often what I do to my kids. My intention is good - I want to make sure they know all the things that could have happened, so that they don't do it again. And yet, how often do I go on excessively and just make them feel worse? As a child, the only thing I learned from being shamed into better behavior was to be excessively critical of myself. (The way we talk to our kids becomes their inner voice.)
Often times the things I get upset with my kids about are things they didn't even realize they were doing "wrong." (Wrong being - not to my prescribed method of accomplishing a task or behaving in a certain way.) I remember how painful that was for me as a kid, to be yelled at for something I didn't even know I was doing wrong. I notice one of my biggest anger triggers is when I feel overwhelmed, and yet when my kids are overwhelmed and have the same reaction to me it's not allowed - because I'm the parent. How can I expect them to behave in a way that I haven't mastered yet at the age of 45?
My biggest take away from my Anger Transformed mindful parenting class and is that most of what triggers me into anger is not my kids, but my own inner stuff from my childhood that gets activated when they do something similar. It's amazing to see how we all want our kids to respect us and be kind to us, and often we just disregard their wants and needs. We treat them in ways that we would scold them for if they acted that way towards their friends or siblings. When they react angrily towards us, it's often for the same reasons we do - they have underlying feelings of hurt, shame, or overwhelm, they don't feel listened to, they feel invisible, they don't feel like they are enough etc. etc.
I signed up for this class thinking - if THEY would just change their behavior and learn to listen to me, I wouldn't be so angry. That's the easy way out, expecting someone else to change so I can feel better. Allowing my kids to serve as a mirror for my own inner work is not as easy, but it allows me to model the behavior I want to teach my kids, instead of feeling like a hypocrite. I never understood when my parents would say, "Do as I say, not as I do." I'm exploring a different path with my own parenting, where I don't hold them to higher expectations than I have for myself. Some days are better than others.