When you feel like you're failing as a parent...

Oct 02, 2023

As parents, we all take pride when other people tell us that our children are great kids…  and that they are so well behaved.  It makes us feel good, and we tend to make that mean that we’ve done a good job as a parent.

But what about when they “misbehave”?  Especially if you are out in public with an unruly child, do you worry about what other people might think?  Do you see your child’s behavior as a reflection of your parenting skills?  Most parents do.

I had one mom tell me that she was “sick of being the show”.  She was making her boy’s unruly behavior in public mean that she was a bad mom.

I had another mom tell me that she felt like her 3 year old daughter’s not listening to her meant that her daughter didn’t respect her.

Both parents were using their child’s behavior as a barometer of how well they were doing as a parent, and they both felt like they were failing.  Unfortunately, judgment and shame shut down the learning centers in the brain, not only for our children but for us as well.  Shame is literally paralyzing, so when we shame ourselves as parents we can’t effectively deal with the situation at hand.  

I knew from working with both of these moms that they really cared about their children and they were actually very good parents.  But when they felt like they were failing they weren’t able to parent well through the difficult situations — which perpetuated their feelings of failure and kept them from parenting effectively.

When you feel like you’re failing as a parent, you tend to keep failing as a parent.

So what is the alternative to making your child’s behavior mean that you’re failing as a parent?

You make their behavior neutral.  

Let’s face it…  You are never going to be able to control everything your child does.  So if you think they have to behave a certain way for you to feel like you’re doing a good job as a parent — you are likely to get frustrated and often feel like you’re failing.

If their behavior means that you’re failing, the only solution is for you to try harder.

But what if their behavior didn’t mean you were failing?
What if it was just age appropriate, or because they were tired and hungry?

When you make their behavior neutral, you are able to think more clearly, you remember the variety of tools you have in your parenting toolbox, and you are so much more effective at managing your child through the challenging situation. 

I will be in Boxford on October 19th teaching my Parent From Neutral concept and tools.  Learn how to take frustration and stress out of your parenting process so you can be more effective and teach these tools to your kids. This workshop is free and open to the public.  You can learn more and sign up here.

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