If your kids drive you up the wall sometimes, don’t worry: You’re not alone. As much as we love our children, they can get to us at times. As a parent, you’re aware of both the negative and positive characteristics of your kids, and sometimes, the minuses outweigh the pluses. It’s only natural to want the best lives possible for your kids, so when you notice things you view as negatives, the first thing you want to do is fix them.
The problem with that, all good intentions aside, is that you can become so fixated on what’s wrong with your kids that you miss what’s right. Use the following four rules to flip your parental lens from negative to positive, leading to less anxiety and better communication for the both of you!
1. Don’t Self-Realize Your Fears
You might not even realize you’re doing it, but there’s a definite chance you’re looking for the things you fear for your child and seeing signs that aren’t there. For instance, if you weren’t popular in school, it’s only natural to fear your child will have the same sort of experience, and you might look for evidence of that to confirm your suspicions.
The issue here is that if you already believe your child is struggling socially, you may take anything you find as evidence of that because your view is already biased. And if you do find genuine evidence of it, your anxiety will prevent you from helping your child in the best way possible and can even transfer some of your negative feelings to your child in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Keep yourself calm if you suspect a fear you have about your child is true. Approach the subject open and honestly, in a way that doesn’t reinforce your anxiety in your child at the same time. Take a deep breath before you have these types of discussions with your kid, so your mind is clear and you’re keeping the negative out of it as much as possible.
2. Alter Your Lenses
Even “bad” behaviors can have positive aspects if you can keep yourself from getting too annoyed with or frustrated by them. Your child’s extreme stubbornness might be driving you up the wall now, but later, it’s a trait that can keep him or her from engaging in risky behavior because of peer pressure.
Try to address and handle bad behavior without as much anger and frustration by looking for the silver lining. Use the positives you can find and channel those aspects of your child into more productive behavior. For instance, if your child is aggressive, you can change that into assertion by giving him or her limits, having consequences for poor behavior and talking to her about what she did wrong and what she can do to make better decisions next time.
3. Walk In Their Shoes
You’ll have an easier time understanding and handling your child’s behavior if you can understand how he or she got there. Visualize yourself as your child to see things from his or her point of view. Use this information to approach the bad behavior in a more calm and understanding manner. This will help you keep your own emotions in check while fostering a more open dialogue between the two of you.
When you’re visualizing, take the time to ensure the root of your child’s negative behavior lies solely with him or her. Children are emotional sponges, and negative behavior is sometimes an expression of what’s going on within your family. Have an honest and forward conversation with your child about his or her feelings if you suspect family tensions or problems may be a factor.
4. Remember We’re All Different
It’s easy to get anxious about your child not fitting in or being different, but those aren’t necessarily bad things to be. Appreciate your child for who they are, differences and all, so the both of you can feel less anxious and worried.