In her new book The Light We Carry, Michelle Obama shares tips and strategies for coping with the stressful times that we are living in. In a recent interview on NPR she talks about what we can do when we want to take action but feel overwhelmed in the current political climate. She says we can ask ourselves, “All right, what can I do in this moment that I can uniquely control when I think something is about to happen that I cannot control?"
When I heard this I immediately thought of its relevance to parents who find themselves in power struggles with their kids. Try as we might, we can’t control our kids at any age and that can be frustrating. What we CAN “uniquely control” is our response to challenging behaviors from toddler to teen. We have the power to change the narrative from reacting to our children’s behavior with frustration and intolerance to responding with compassion and understanding. It is important to note that what our children are experiencing is true for them, even if it doesn't make any sense to us. Here are some strategies that can help get you started keeping your cool when things go south with your kids:
Remember that change is never a one and done situation. If it was, then it would be easy. Little by little you ease into a new pattern of looking below the surface of your child’s behavior and meet them where they are with calm and compassion. It won’t work every time, but with practice, commitment and patience this small change can make a difference. I can’t help but believe that if we are able to do this with our kids, when they grow up, they will be well positioned to bring more compassion, calm and understanding to the larger issues we are facing in our community, our country and the world.
Jenny Michaelson is a PCI,
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