What do you do when someone you love hurts you? (Now I am not talking about abuse... if you feel unsafe call 911 and seek help.)
I'm talking about the child who makes you feel like you are the worse parent on the earth... or maybe a lover who hasn't been too nice lately, or a friend who doesn't return your call because they are too busy, or a teenager experiencing unruly hormone changes (you know what I'm talking about!).
When someone damages you emotionally, you have an opportunity to be powerful. Do the unexpected. Be an observer. It’s like an out of body experience. Suddenly you have a shield that everything bounces off. Nothing sticks because you are not taking anything personally. Remember, feelings are neither right nor wrong, they are just feelings.
Here are 3 rules when someone you love hurts you:
Rule 1. Don’t hurt them back...
Instead recognize that they are upset and calling out for love. A way to do this is to change your thinking... Let go of "good" and "bad" and see all behavior as a person is either "thriving" or "struggling". What do I mean? Instead of saying "you're a good kid" or "you're a bad kid", acknowledge that children (and adults) are either struggling or thriving. If someone is hurting you, they are most likely struggling, so don’t take it personally. When you know someone is struggling, it's easier to come from a place of empathy and help that person.
When we let other people’s hurtful words stick to us, we become the victim. What if I told you that the hurtful words are not really about you? Which leads me to the second rule...
Rule 2. Don’t make assumptions...
Instead be curious. Say to them,
"Tell me some more about how you are feeling. I can see how upset you are, and I feel terrible.”
Our gut is to get defensive and hurt back. If you don’t want this to be a reoccurring argument, complete it by making the person feel understood. Once you make someone feel understood the problem can be resolved.
Imagine the person saying, “It would mean a lot to me if you could just repeat back to me what I am trying to get across."
Then tell them what you are hearing to confirm it is correct and help them feel understood.
Rule 3. Remember the kids are watching you.
This is the most important rule. If we want your children to grow up feeling loved and powerful, we have to model it.
Try these rules out in your life and tell me in the comments below what you experienced. Did it help you resolve an issue?
Your children aren't good... but they aren't bad either.
The first step to redirecting your child's negative behavior is to realize that your child is either THRIVING or STRUGGLING. When you shift your mindset to realize your child is neither good or bad, you will have empathy for your children. This is so important, because you would not punish a child that you know is struggling. Your reaction would be to help that child to thrive.
If you know your child is struggling, think about how you can help your child. Maybe it's giving your child a choice so they feel like they have some power. For example, if your child is throwing a fit because her dress shoes are dirty, you could say, "I'm sorry, your dress shoes are dirty right now. Would you rather wear your pink shoes or your brown boots?" You are not manipulating your child, rather you are giving your child a choice on a matter in which you have no preference. By giving your child choices, you can redirect their behavior.
Additionally, you can give choices to adults and peers in your life. Possibly offer two positives first. For example, "Honey, I appreciated that you worked on the walkway yesterday and it was helpful that you played with our daughter while I got work done. I just have a few things left to do, would you be able to help me? The dishes need to be put in the dishwasher and the garbage needs to be taken out. Can you do one, which would you rather do?"
Remember, the children and people around you are either struggling or thriving. Help them thrive! Support them. Offering choices is one simple way to help them gain some sense of power. Try it and tell me how it worked for you.
Hear more about this topic here.
If you have a problem in your relationships and you don't know what to do, bring your question to my next radio show.
Susan Dockerill has ten years of teaching children in public, private, and military schools at home and abroad, plus 17 years teaching and mediating with parents and teachers. Susan has the expertise to speak frankly about marriage, divorce, children, and being responsible for living the life of your dreams.
Learn how to redirect your child's behavior and improve relationships in all facets of your life in our Redirecting Children's Behavior Course.
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