A lot of times, our parenting is filtered by negative stereotyped expectations of who our child is. Terrible twos, the awful potty training phase, all tweens are sassy, and the teen years are a nightmare. Just because you hear the stories, doesn’t mean you have to expect your child to fall in line with the negative expectations. Stay connected to your child. Listen without judgement and be there for them. Marvel at who they are at each stage of their development.
If you are having a hard time seeing the wonder of your child, try this little exercise to bring back that wonder and positive regard for your child that you may feel like you have lost.
Find a time when your child is in a common room of the house and is occupied in an activity. Go to another room of your house, where you can be alone. Sit quietly, take some deep breaths and push out any anxiety or stress you are feeling. Picture yourself putting your worries in a box to deal with later. Right now, focus on calm. When you are feeling relaxed and calm, purposely think of your child and what you love about him or her. Think of their traits, their passions, personality and physical features that you love. Stay focused on the positive aspects of your child. If your mind wanders to the negative about your child, picture yourself adding that to the box of worries and negative thoughts and refocus on the positive. It may help to tap your legs lightly with your fingers, right-left-right-left while you focus on your love for your child.
After you feel calm and warmed by the love for your child, go into the room your child is in and just sit there. Continue feeling the love for your child with calm, deep breaths. Get up when you are ready and go back to your normal activities. You may notice that your interactions are more positive with your child and it may seem like your child is behaving better, simply because you have positive regard for your child. Your child can feel that love and will respond to it! If this works for you do it as often as you need to during those difficult stages when you have a hard time remembering just how much you love this amazing kid.
References: Duffy, J, (2014). The Available Parent: Expert Advice for Raising Successful and Resilient Teens and Tweens. Viva Editions, Berkley, CA