I recently had a returning mum tell me she hasn’t been able to do a proper Pit Stop (a strategy to cope with problems) with her daughter because her daughter can’t hear Sparky when she is emotional.
Despite this, the mum said she believed the first part of the Pit Stop was helpful and that it did make a difference to her daughter’s behaviour once she vented her Shady thoughts and feelings.
During this conversation I realised that I should probably explain how Pit Stops are tidy in theory but very messy in reality.
My two sons (Jack, 15 and Ash, 26) both know the theory of why and how Pit Stops work, but neither of them take textbook Pit Stops to let go of baggage (unhelpful Shady beliefs).
They are great at the Shady venting and getting their feelings out but not so great at listening to Sparky and putting new Sparky beliefs in their subconscious straight away.
Does this matter?
Nope! Not a jittery jot!
In fact, as a mum I do not follow the Pit Stop steps when I support my sons to get rid of unhelpful Shady beliefs because it isn’t a natural process.
(Mind you, I absolutely do follow every single step when I take one myself because they work and I want to get them over and done with in one go!)
For instance, with Jack, I focus first on supporting him to get all his Shady thoughts and feelings out. Once he has got most of it out, I leave him alone and let him do whatever he needs to do to feel better.
For Jack, it is usually something physical, like throwing ninja stars at a target or cutting some lantana down with his machete! For your child it might be something physical too or it could be listening to music, drawing, reading or whatever works for them!
Later on, whether it is hours, days or even weeks, I ask Jack what his Sparky told him to believe to replace what Shady was telling him to believe. Almost every time Jack has a pretty inspiring answer.
I’ll give you an example.
After Jack stuffed up his high jump at a local athletics carnival (he still won, he just jumped 10cm less than his best) he was saying stuff in the car on the way home like, “I can’t jump anymore. I’m not going to be able to jump my best height ever again. I’m getting worse at high jump.” So, I said, “What else?” every time he paused until he said, “That’s it, nothing else.”
Then when we got home he went out the back and hacked at the lantana behind our house.
A few days later Jack had high jump training and refused to go because he “sucked at it”.
I said, “Yep, I heard you tell me you sucked at high jump after the carnival but what does Sparky say? Then Jack replied, “I’m not going mum, don’t use that Sparky shit with me!”
I replied, “No problem matey, you don’t have to go, I can’t make you go, but just so you know, you still have baggage about it and it isn’t helping you!”
I think I got a “f—k off” for that comment. I’m sure I followed up with my stock standard, “It’s okay to be angry, but it’s not okay to talk to me like that.”
Jack would have given his stock standard, “Sorry mum.”
About 3 days later Jack had an argument with his dad about phone usage (he is supposed to plug his phone in the kitchen at 9pm and go to bed). He yelled and carried on about it not being fair and then he went to his room and started crying.
I went into his room and asked if I could sit with him and he said, “yes”.
I rubbed his back and didn’t say a word (I suspected he was crying about the high jump as well as the phone so I just let him cry). He cried for about 10 minutes, and then he told me he was going to sleep. I gave him a cuddle and left him to it.
The next weekend when I asked Jack if he was going to high jump training he said, “Yep, I’ll go.” On the drive there I asked what Sparky said to change his mind. He said, “Sparky said to go and practice my nine-step run up.”
That high jump session Jack jumped from his nine-step run up every single jump and equalled his personal best (at the carnival he was doing his five-step run up).
In the car on the way home I told Jack I was proud of him for listening to Sparky and doing what Sparky told him to. He said something like, “Yeah, I know mum.”
I asked, “So what do you believe about high jump now?”
He said, “I will keep improving with practice!”
Even though I didn’t sit with Jack and go through every single step of the Pit Stop in one go he ended up doing all the important steps – eventually!
The important steps are:
Pit Stops are not tidy in reality, but if you trust the process and gently give that loving nudge reminding your child to listen to Sparky, then they most likely will! Even if it’s when you are not there!
PS If you have baggage related to your child, for example, if I had the belief, “Jack can’t jump high anymore” then it would help both Jack and I enormously if I let go of my fear first.
For some magical reason to do with kids being connected to their parents, kids pick up on our unhelpful Shady beliefs and they end up coming true.
The best way to get rid of our fear about our kids is to take a Pit Stop on our own! As I mentioned earlier, I follow the steps exactly as they are laid out in the book because I want to get my Pit Stops over and done with in one go!
Try it yourself and see if it makes a difference!