Our innocent children are born not knowing how stressful and judgmental the world can be. As they grow, they often look to us for guidance on how to react to certain people and situations.
How do you personally cope when you are feeling angry, overwhelmed or sad? Your reactions are cues tucked away in the deepest recesses of your child’s brain, and they retrieve this information to determine how to treat people and cope with certain situations. They observe our behavior and in turn future presidents, teachers, fathers, mothers, mentors (and bullies) are created.
It is no secret that our kids make us angry from time to time. We are human. We all have our triggers and have learned to react in a certain way to each one.
But it might be time to take stock of how you react to your triggers. What are we teaching them when we shame our kids by yelling, hitting or calling them names?
Shameful behavior leads to low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. The child then may begin acting out in ways that are unhealthy — drinking alcohol, experimenting with drugs, fighting or engaging in self-harm.
It is every parent’s goal to raise their child to be an upstanding member of the community. As parents, however, we don’t always realize how our words or actions come across during a heated argument.
If you are seeing the same bad behavior in your child over and over again, then it is time to realize what you are doing is not working.
One of the skills I teach students in my Coping and Skills training group is STEPS. It is an acronym that stands for Stop, Think, Evaluate, Perform and Self-Praise. Utilizing STEPS is a quick and easy when used consistently.
For example, I tell my son to take out the trash, and he responds, “Just a minute.” But it never gets taken out. I get angry. I have learned that when he says, “Just a minute,” it means the trash is not going to be taken out. So I yell at him, “Not just a minute; right now!” We end up yelling at each other until he goes into his room and slams the door. We stay mad at one another for the rest of the night.
STOP. The trigger in this situation is when the son responds, “Just a minute.”
THINK. How can you respond in a way that will set a good example for your child and encourage them to do what you ask?
EVALUATE each option. Are your choices helping mold your child to make good decisions in the future and to treat others with respect?
PERFORM the option you have decided to use.
SELF-PRAISE. Praise yourself for taking the opportunity to evaluate how you will respond to your child appropriately.
The goal is to use STEPS without yelling or saying hurtful things to your child. This will help manage your mood so you can be a positive role model for your child. Teach your child how to use STEPS so they can choose more appropriate ways of handling stressful situations.