How to manage your child when they trigger you

Our beautiful kids are here to push our buttons! It is as though we made some sort of subconscious deal with them before they were born that went something like this…

“Okay, I’ll be your mum (or dad) and you be my kid and your job is to see how many different ways you can get me fired up (or upset, or feeling hopeless or any other horrible feeling you can elicit out of me) so that I have to let go of my baggage.”

By baggage, I mean all the Shady (or fearful beliefs or rules) we have about ourselves, other people or the way the world works. I’ll give you an example:

Until recently, my gorgeous 11-year-old son was an expert in the field of procrastination! He knew he had to do his homework and empty the dishwasher before he was allowed to play with the kids in the street (or if no one was around to play, to have 30 minutes on the ipad or DS).

Instead of doing his jobs he chose to read a book (which is technically part of his homework) but instead of reading for 20 minutes he would read for as long as he could get away with it.

What parent in their right mind would take a novel away from a kid? Well, me! And that’s because on a lot of afternoons there would be kids knocking at the door wanting to play with him. He wanted to play but he hadn’t done his homework or emptied the dishwasher yet so I would say very loudly so he could hear me, “Sorry guys, he can’t play yet. He’ll be out in 20 mins!”

Then he would start on his homework but get easily distracted by what was on the table, or he would decide he needed more food, or his favourite was to go to the toilet for a poo!

“Okay” I would say, “so take your homework into the dunny and finish it in there.”

“No mum. I can’t do my homework on the toilet – that’s disgusting. Can you pass me my book please?”

“Arghhh!”

My son’s avoidance tactics or procrastination seriously triggered me!!

Okay so if you have something similar or not at all similar but you get what I mean by ‘triggering’ then here is what I did in case you want to give it a try…

Say upfront to your child, “I feel really angry and frustrated when you don’t just get in and do what you have to do so you can enjoy the afternoon playing with your friends” or whatever is specific to your child.

Then continue with, “Obviously I have baggage about having to do all your work before you can play and also about being a good friend and being ready to play by the time your friends knock on the door, so I will take a Pit Stop and let that baggage go so it doesn’t trigger me anymore!”

Then when you get the opportunity – take a bloody Pit Stop.

“Why do we have to take the Pit Stops when our kids have the problems?” I hear you ask! Believe me I feel the same way, but wait for it…

After you have taken a Pit Stop and let go of your baggage about your child having to follow those rules, which means feeling the fear of them being a total loser and growing up to be someone you would not be proud of… keep the same rules (well of course – you don’t want them turning into lazy, good for nothing drop outs do you?) BUT notice what has changed!

You no longer have the emotional charge of being fired up, (or upset, or feeling hopeless or any other horrible feeling you child used to elicit out of you) because you let your feelings out in the Pit Stop. In other words when you bashed a pillow in anger or cried in great sobs at the thought of your child being a complete loser you got all the emotion out of you.

The result is your child will no longer need to have those behaviours to trigger you, because you will no longer have the baggage that needs to be triggered! Once your angry, sad and scared energy over them ‘having’ to do it is gone, your response is calm and nonchalant, like, “Oh well, no homework, no play, no ipad, sorry mate, your choice.”

Then before you know it your child is most likely going to do what you want them to do because it is, after all, the best option for them and others and it makes them feel good.

Look out however, because you’ve got more baggage and it will only be a matter of time before they find it and start triggering you all over again over something completely different!

Damn that pesky subconscious deal you made with them!! How dare they agree to help you be the best person you can be! (And vice versa of course – you trigger your kids too you know!)

Love Kathy

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