Last week, I was getting ready to record a video so I went to fetch my lipstick.
I looked on my desk where I keep it sometimes. It wasn’t there, so I went into the bathroom. It wasn’t there, either. I then looked in my handbag – in that zippy little pocket inside where I sometimes keep it. But it wasn’t in any of those three places.
When I realised it wasn’t in any of the three places where it should be, I thought perhaps I hadn’t looked properly. So I went back to look at my desk – not there – I went to the bathroom – not there – and I went to my handbag – nope.
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And then I did that routine for a third time! But nothing.
I thought I must have just lost my lipstick.
At that point, my son came into the room and he saw me looking a bit disgruntled, or confused, or something! And he said, “What’s wrong?”
I told him, “Well, I’ve lost my lipstick. I’ve looked in the three places where it’s meant to be and it’s not in any of them.”
He pondered for a moment. And then he said, “What about the time, a couple of days ago, when you went on that walk with so-and-so?”
And I suddenly realised – I’d used another bag. So I went to look in that bag and there it was! Success!
That’s when I realised I had been completely stuck in my approach to solving the lipstick crisis – to the point where I wasn’t able to see any other possibilities.
I think this can happen in our parenting too – that we get stuck in certain ways of dealing with things and don’t realise that we’re just repeating the same things that didn’t work last time.
So today, I thought I would highlight three of the most common parenting traps, as I call them, which I see parents get themselves stuck in – without even realising they are traps.
And what’s interesting about these traps is that we’re more prone to getting stuck in them if we’re trying to be a ‘good parent’. And you’re definitely trying to be a ‘good parent’ if you’re reading this blog. 😉
Trap #1 – Explanation and Correction
We think we need to explain and correct a lot, especially when our children do something we don’t want them to do – spit, hit, be rude, for example. We feel it’s a parental duty. And it’s true that it is expected out there in society, particularly when we’re mixing with other parents, that we should tell our child off and do a lot of correcting/explaining.
The thing is, we can get stuck in that trap.
A sign that you might be in this trap is that you find yourself taking your child aside and spending time explaining why what they just did was wrong. Or you may find yourself telling your child the consequences of certain behaviours, saying, “People won’t like you,” and that kind of thing.
I had a client who was a teacher. She was particularly stuck in this trap. Being a teacher, she knew how to do this stuff. And I remember the moment in our first session where I recommended just not doing 95% of it anymore – because it doesn’t work.
There was a look that went from confusion to relief, because doing all that explaining and correcting is tiring, right? And there was also, “Aha! Maybe I’ve been barking up the wrong tree!” It was a real revelation to this hard-working mum who was just trying her best to be a ‘good parent’.
Trap #2 – Worrying about upsetting our children
There’s been so much information shared over the last century – particularly in the last decades – about how neglectful or cold treatment can harm our children and their brain development. Naturally, we don’t want to make these dire mistakes. And maybe we feel something was lacking in our own parents’ technique. We don’t want to repeat old, dysfunctional family patterns.
But needing our children to be happy all the time can become a trap in itself.
A sign that you might be in this trap is that you feel like you’re walking on eggshells around your child, or you notice that they’re very demanding or cranky.
I was talking to a lovely mum last week who was telling me how stressed she feels because the pockets of time in between her child’s demands, when she can go off and make a sandwich or do a little bit of cleaning up, are so small. She feels she shouldn’t upset her child by doing other things. Being stuck in this parenting trap is exhausting for this mum.
Trap #3 – Believing it’s never going to get any better
I come across this quite a lot. It’s the feeling that there’s no way out of this – you’ve tried everything – this is just how it is.
“I’m like this, my child is like this, and it’s never going to get any better.”
Living with a belief that there isn’t a way out is very tricky. It can weigh heavily on a family and the people in it. It’s a bit like me, on a very small scale, thinking I’d lost my lipstick.
But, just as my son came along in the nick of time and gave me a new idea, I’m here to help you find a new focus – a way that really works so that you’re not just tweaking the old ways but really focusing on something completely different, which changes everything.
The new thing that I recommend your focussing on is your relationship with your child. If you feel you might be stuck in any of the above parenting traps, it’s a sign that there are areas of your relationship which need attention. Your child is expressing needs which require your attention.
Let’s look at that more closely:
In the first case, if you’re in Trap #1 – the explanation and correction trap – it’s about your child needing more understanding.
If you’re in Trap #2 – worrying about upsetting your child or causing damage – your child needs more trust from you to know that they’re okay.
And if you’re in Trap #3 – feeling that this is just how it is – things can’t get any better, you’ve tried everything – your child needs you to believe in the possibility that you can be more peacefully together, that you can be happier together, that your relationship can improve, and you can feel more comfortable with each other so that times of conflict don’t need to feel so bad, or be bad at all. This is the first step that will help your child feel better – and behave better.
It sounds simple when I summarise it with 1, 2, 3, but it’s not easy, as we know, because anything to do with relationships requires careful attention.
And that’s why I’ve set up my powerful FREE challenge – Reset Your Relationship with Your Child in Five Days. I ran it last year and it was a huge success. People had fabulous transformations – children just leaving off their favourite game, going upstairs happily to bed, arguments averted. You can go to the page and see the comments that people made about the shifts and changes that they were able to make.
I’m doing it again, starting on Monday, April the 19th 2021, and I’d love for you to join us.
I really recommend grabbing this opportunity to work with me for a week for FREE. You get my individual feedback on your comments and your shares.
And it’s great fun!
I hope to see you there…
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