Have you ever found it hard not to set the record straight when your child tells you that you’re rude or ALWAYS say no and JUST DON’T GET IT?
If so – you are completely normal.
It can feel almost impossible to resist the urge to contradict and defend against what can feel like an unjust attack.
“I am NOT rude.. I’m telling you in a calm way to tidy up”
“I don’t ALWAYS say no, stop being silly”
You might be thinking it is important that your child is discouraged from just making up stories and accusing people of crimes they didn’t commit. And you’re exactly right.
But how we go about teaching this makes all the difference.
The number one mistake we tend to make when disagreeing with our child
Have you ever noticed that the goal of all conflicts is to win. To establish who’s right. And who’s wrong. This mentality is so deeply engrained in most of us that unless we were raised by parents who worked as diplomats or mediators – we most likely did not develop the skill as a child that all conflict resolution rests on:
THE ABILITY TO LISTEN.
Listening – is not the same as agreeing.
I invite you to reflect for a minute what you might fear if you were to listen and acknowledge your child’s perspective when you don’t agree with what they are saying.
What comes up for most of us is:
- The fear that we loose leverage to stay in charge.
- The fear that we are seen to agree and therefore will have to give in
But the opposite is in fact the case. What happens when we contradict or moralise is we force our child to dial up the volume by:
BECOMING MORE RUDE
in order to feel heard and get through to us.
Because what matters to children more so than getting their own way is to feel that their thoughts and feelings are allowed.
If you can relate to this and feel exhausted and sad about the back chat, rudeness and disrespect that always follows an argument with your child – remember this:
It is possible to listen and acknowledge
At the same time holding on to your own agenda or setting a limit
Show your child that you HEAR him.
“What you’re saying is.. “
“I know.. you feel I’m… ”
I hear you.
Show your child that you ACCEPT his thoughts and translate if need be:
“It feels like I’m being rude”
“It feel like I always say no because you’re so sad that you can’t ..”
I am willing to understand your perspective
Show your child that you can hear him – and still honour your own limit:
“And I still don’t want you to…”
“I can see that you are so upset.. and I don’t want you to hit me / speak to me in a rude way”
When we meet our child in this way as opposed to immediately taking offence at the crassness of their words or inaccurate account of events – we invite them to soften. A lot of anger gets pent up from not feeling heard. And this is the energy they will bring to future conflicts – which prevents them from expressing themselves more authentically and getting to their tears.