There is a popular mantra in personal development that says: Change your thoughts, change your life. I believe this concept applies very well to the area of raising children.
Change your attitude, change your children
The better our attitudes are about solving problems and dealing with challenges in life, the better our children’s attitudes will be about solving problems and dealing with challenges in life.
Why? Because children look to us as their example.
Children learn how to behave, and they learn it from those who they spend the most time around and those they feel most strongly bonded with. Which in most cases is the parents.
If we are dealing with challenges with exasperation and a sense of despair, then our children will also be likely to deal with challenges with exasperation and despair.
And on the flip side, if we deal with the problems and challenges in life with an attitude of joy and gratitude, then our children will also be likely to deal with the problems and challenges in life with an attitude of joy and gratitude.
When our children are having trouble dealing with their emotions or seem to be deliberately testing our patience, this is often a signal that we aren’t meeting their needs. Therefore we as parents should take responsibility for their discomfort and see what is in our own attitude that might need adjustment.
For example our child may be doing something over and over we specifically told them not to do, and we know they are doing it because it’s a cry for attention. In this case it is possible that there is something we missed that the child asked for previously (before the episode of doing what we told them not to), and now they are acting out this unmet need.
Often when children are very young, they simply don’t know how to express the emotion they are feeling, and turn to some type of misbehavior as a result.
Empathize with your children
The best approach that I believe a parent can take is to acknowledge there is a problem, empathize with the child, then proceed to try to figure out what was missed earlier. We might not be able to figure it out, but at least we are showing our children that we care and are attentive to their concerns. That much alone will go along way towards both happier parents and happier children.
But even better is if we can find out the root of the issue and deal with it. It may have been something as simple as not noticing something the child had done and were proud of, which they desperately wanted you to see. Other times it may be a challenge to come to terms with, but the child will sense very strongly that at least we tried to connect with them. Which is infinitely better than ignoring their concerns and trying to force them to change the behavior.
Changing your own attitude, changes your children’s attitude and behavior.
When we change our own attitude, our children not only sense this and will adjust their attitude too, but they also see us as an example of an imperfect human being living in a stressful and imperfect world.
We teach our children best through our own behaviors and actions. When we learn to focus on changing our own attitude (instead of theirs), we realize that most of the time it is our attitude that needed adjustment in the first place.
I would love to hear what you think in the comments below!