He sat there at our kitchen table crying over math. Today it was his homework, yesterday he cried over his Legos, the day before that, the broccoli on his plate was his undoing. In recent weeks one of my sons has cried daily over one thing or another. I never knew that a child’s sincere tears could be such a trigger for me… until they were.
Though I’ve been writing on this theme of gentle parenting for a couple of years now, I continue to have an ever-increasing surplus of fresh content because I’m still in the trenches with you! My own opportunities to choose gentleness each day are constant.
Read that last sentence again:
My opportunities to choose gentleness each day are constant.
In our book Triggers, Amber Lia explains that our triggers (those things our kids do that cause us to explode) are actually opportunities for us to parent well.
Imagine for a moment that your child’s childishness is his way of communicating with you, “Mom, I need your help!” Whether they are crying over having to leave the park, throwing a tantrum over a bag of goldfish at the grocery store, or saying something nasty to a sibling… believe it or not, your kid is asking you for help.
Their job is to be children, and when they act childish they are inviting you to do your job… to parent them.
So how do we accept their invitation to parent them well, when we’re tempted to join them in their childishness? I’ve come to realize that knowing my triggers simply isn’t enough! I have to find a time, when I’m not triggered, to make a better plan. I need to slow down, sit down, and write down a better response.
Sometimes I don’t just need better words to speak to them, I need fresh scripts to speak over my own heart too. Because, when my inner-dialogue changes, it transforms my outer-dialogue. This is the mothering mantra I scripted for myself a couple of years ago:
“Apparently my child needs me to keep parenting him.” When he does wrong, I tell myself, “He’s inviting me to parent him right now.” He’s not abusing me. He’s not trying to hurt me. Most of the time, he’s just a kid in need of a mom.
Their wrong behavior is an invitation for you to parent right.
Even if you feel your child should have learned this particular lesson by now — apparently, they haven’t. And they need you to keep on training them.
Is this ringing a bell? When your kid doesn’t come to the table when he’s called, and leaves his wet towel on the floor, and doesn’t get his clothes put away or his homework done, or slams his door in anger because he may not go down the street to a friend’s house five minutes before you’re leaving for soccer practice… Whatever it is, whenever it is, when your child does wrong, you can still do right… and keep on parenting.
Is it hard? Yes. Do I forget to speak truth to myself in some triggered instances? Yes. But, do I continue to commit myself to seeing these common triggers as opportunities to parent well instead of invitations to engage them in a fight? Yes. Absolutely, yes! And you can too.
So, here’s a question: Which common, recurring problem in your home can you choose to see as an invitation to parent well today?
YOUR OPPORTUNITIES TO PARENT WELL, WILL LIKELY BE FOUND IN YOUR MOST MUNDANE MOTHERING MOMENTS.
BE ON GUARD, OR, BETTER YET… BE PREPARED.
Make a plan, right here and right now. Choose a recurring problem there in your home, and then SCRIPT a better response. Perhaps it begins, “I see you need my help…” and then calmly and kindly, with the authority you have been given as their mom, go and help them through that thing they do that tempts to undo you.
Right here, right now.
Right here, write now.
If the words you’re speaking to your children aren’t working, it’s up to you to figure out new words. Let us help. In Parenting Scripts, Amber Lia and I have crafted 31 scripts that we say to our own children and over our own hearts. Whether your trigger is naptime battles or dinner table conflict, homework meltdowns or flat-out defiance, join us as we re-script the words we’re saying to those we love most of all! Grab a copy of Parenting Scripts today, and change the way you speak to your family.