Now I’m not quite taking a victory lap here on this one, because its’ the fool who gets struck down immediately after bragging about themselves. But I was feeling pretty good about one aspect of my parenting over the weekend. And that was that I pulled my kid aside and said, I don’t appreciate the taking of your brother’s toys, but I still love you, and I think you can control yourself better the next time you get the urge to snatch something from him.
And there is no followup on whether he was better or not, that’s not the point. The point is actually about me. I felt like I handled it well. I felt like I conquered one of my foes for a minute. I felt good about parenting. And that’s why it’s not bragging, it’s just that feeling of a job well done. It can feel good to parent properly.
And what it comes down to – that foe that I felt like I conquered. Is anger. Every damn one of us has gotten angry at a child for taking his brother, daughters, or a friends toys. This episode is one way to help deal with that real anger.
So sometimes we have to say the same thing but differently. Because every one of us will have a different phrase or story that straight up resonates in us like the liberty bell. My hope is that this helps someone – but maybe not everyone.
And the phrase is “attack the behavior and assure the person”. I’m not sure of the source. I doubt I wrote that down as I thought of it, but for type A and similarly driven people the word attack is a great starting point. If we, as parents, are in attack mode – be it for use of curse words, hitting, or simply not listening to us, we have a tendency to attack the tiny person performing these actions. But assuring the person after our scolding can help us teach ourselves what that middle ground is in parenting that we’re all in search of. Those magical, non-existent words which immediately stop the behavior, but don’t make our children whimper and pull away in anger.
The next time you go to solve a parenting problem, think of this phrase and take that next step to assure the person, to believe in them, and to remind them that you’ll always love them.