Dr. Laura, I see how all your
mindfulness techniques make me a more patient mother. But when I find my temper rising, what can I do in that
moment? I know yelling doesn't work. I know that my inner critic that
tells me I'm a bad mother just makes things worse. But what do I actually DO?" -- Cara
Nothing. Really. You notice what you're feeling, you breathe your way through it, and you DO nothing.
When our temper rises, we all feel an urgent need to DO something, anything. But that's our emergency response system operating. And parenting, despite how it feels, is not usually an emergency.
So the most effective thing you can do is restore yourself to calm before you act. Why? Because the rational brain stops working when you're angry. So when you act from anger or fear, you're never taking constructive action.
I define mindfulness as just noticing our own feelings and thoughts without acting on them. Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg says it more directly: "Mindfulness is not hitting someone in the mouth."
Sure, it feels like we MUST intervene at that moment. Otherwise, our child will "get away with" bad behavior, and will become a terrible person. But that's fear speaking, and it drives us to take actions that make things worse. Later, we realize that we let our emotions run amok. We didn't guide our child with love. We didn't help her WANT to be a more responsible or cooperative person. Instead, we dumped those yucky feelings from our full emotional backpack onto our beloved, vulnerable, child.
So what can you actually DO when you feel your temper rising? READ POST
"Yesterday my husband and I had an argument at dinner time in front of the kids. My four year old daughter yelled at us to ‘Be quiet!’ … My two year old had a tough time going to bed, which is unusual for him. Could that have had to do with mommy and daddy arguing?”
In honor of Valentines Day last week, my posts this week are about the intersection between being a parent and being a couple -- specifically, how to work through conflicts when you're in front of the kids. Next week, we'll get back to our Beyond Discipline series, with 10 Alternatives to Consequences and When Kids Just Won't Cooperate.
Conflict is part of every human relationship. If we live with children, those conflicts will sometimes come up in front of the kids. In the past, most experts reassured parents that there’s no harm in children seeing them fight, as long as the kids also see the parents make up afterwards. However, recent developments in neurological research challenge this view. Not surprisingly, it turns out that when children hear yelling, their stress hormones shoot up. In fact, even a sleeping infant registers loud, angry voices and experiences a rush of stress chemicals that takes some time to diminish. READ POST
"Behind the anger, behind the
disrespect, and behind the manipulation is a scared child in desperate
need of connection, love, and acceptance. ... If you show up for your
child in a different state, he can only be different...When you are in a
loving state, you automatically do the right thing...Love never fails."
- Heather T. Forbes
"Whatever the question, love is the answer." - The Dalai Lama
What does Valentine’s Day have to do with parenting? Love. The purpose of Valentines Day is to celebrate love of all kinds. The purpose of parenting, quite obviously, is to raise children. But I believe that parenting has a secret purpose -- to transform us, the parents. Loving our child helps us to heal ourselves, so that we can live more fully. READ POST
"Dr Laura....I'm trying stop yelling, but I can't. And I can't imagine getting my kids to listen if I don't yell at them. ...Can you move in with me for a week?!” - Cheralynn
Like Cheralynn, most parents think they "should" stop yelling, but they don't believe there's another way to get their child's attention. After all, it's our job to teach them, and how else can we get them to listen? It’s not like yelling hurts them; they barely listen, they roll their eyes. Of course they know we love them, even if we yell. Right?
Wrong. The truth is that yelling scares kids. It makes them harden their hearts to us. And when we yell, kids go into fight, flight or freeze, so they stop learning whatever we're trying to teach. What's more, when we yell, it trains kids not to listen to us until we raise our voice. And it trains them to yell at us. READ POST
"Dr. Laura....I've already given up on my New
Year's Resolution to be a more peaceful mother because I've blown it
over and over...and it's only the first week of the year! -- Sylvia
How are you doing at keeping your New Year's resolution?
(b) Not so great.
(c) I've given up on keeping my resolution.
(d) I gave up making resolutions a long time ago because they always fail.
If you answered anything other than (a), join the club. Change is hard. If it were easy, we wouldn't have invented the idea of using the new year to give us some momentum. READ POST
“Before the plane takes off, the pilots have a flight plan…but during the course of the flight, wind, rain, turbulence, air traffic, human error, and other factors act on the plane…90% of the time the plane is not even on the prescribed flight path...During the flight, the pilots make constant adjustments to get back on track. The flight of that airplane is the perfect metaphor for family life…it doesn’t make any difference if we are off target or even if our family is a mess. The hope lies in the vision and in the plan and in the courage to keep coming back time and time again.” – Stephen Covey
You may have noticed that you aren’t perfect. That sometimes you aren’t the parent or the person you want to be. Sometimes you blow it. We all do. Welcome to humanity.
The bad news is that even if we’re committed to showing up with love for ourselves and others, life happens. We get disconnected -- from our child, our partner, our own deepest guidance. There’s no magic that keeps us on the right path. In fact, all relationships are a constant series of connections and disconnections, missteps and course corrections. READ POST
"Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence." - Rosalynn Carter
Most of us judge ourselves harshly. We're so far from perfect. We overslept, ate that cake, forgot to return a phone call, snapped at our spouse, yelled at our kid, didn't feed him a hot breakfast, hustled him out the door so fast he forgot his homework. And while we're judging ourselves, how's the kid turning out? Not so perfect either? Nothing makes us more anxious than whether our children are turning out okay.
But perfection is too low a standard. Why not use love as your yardstick? Can you create more love in the world today? Can you forgive yourself for all those inevitable human missteps -- and just keep turning yourself around so you're on the right track again? Can you remind yourself that your child isn't perfect because he or she is human, and an immature, still developing human at that?
What kids need from us is the space to be imperfect, to be loved and accepted exactly as they are. That's the only place any of us can start from to grow. READ POST