Who are the parents you most want to be in 5, 10, 20 years from now?
What do you want your children to say about what it was like to grow up in your home?
Imagine yourself ten years from now. Your children are grown up, and a documentary film crew are in your house, interviewing your family about what it was like growing up in your household.
What is it you hope your kids will say about you?
Like the time they did something incredibly stupid, did you lose your cool, yell and make a fuss? Did it seem like the world was ending?
Kids already feel bad enough when they do something wrong. Losing your cool doesn’t add anything. Keeping calm, being cool, showing your kids this is how we handle situations when ‘shit hits the fan’.
Think about how the last time you lost your cool, you lost your temper at your kids. Imagine watching this back on the documentarian’s video account of your family’s life. If it makes you shudder, that’s telling you it’s time to stop doing that.
Being a parent is no easy task. We lose our cool a lot. What’s important is that we remain calm, show our kids that yes, life is tough, but this is how we do it, this is how we regulate ourselves, this is how we make light of our mistakes, because after all, isn’t that why we have families in the first place?
You might be thinking, yeah, sure, but what do we do now?
Pay attention to behaviour that you like. Praise, do a dance, jump up and down, let your kids know when they make the right choice. We are hard wired to respond to attention. Good and bad. Make the choice to only respond to the good behaviours, ignore the ones you don’t want and watch them fade. And if you’re having trouble, time-out is your next step. A lot of parents might not realise that yelling and smacking are forms of attention, empty forms of venting frustration that only create anger and disrespect in return. Ignore the behaviour you don’t want, and pay attention to the behaviour you want more of.
So, back to the documentary.
How do you feel about discovering the goings-about of your family home are now public?
What are you pleased about?
What are you most afraid that people will find out?
What would you like to go back and change?
If your imagining watching this when your kids are adults, how do you imagine your kids will feel about you? Do they see you as hard and angry, or cool and kind?
The opportunity to do something about it is now. Parent with the end in mind.