All Pro Dad
A friend of mine decided to coach his son’s basketball team for the first time this past year. He made the effort of planning practice drills that were both fun and helped the players develop fundamentals. During the first practice while doing some of those drills his son started to whine and complain, eventually asking if they could do something else instead. As you can imagine, my friend was frustrated by his son’s attitude, especially since his son’s attitude affected the attitude of the entire team.
A child with a negative, complaining attitude can wear down even the best dads. Authors Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller offer some hope for parents trying to stop the complaining in their book, Good and Angry. Here are 6 practical ways to help give your kids an attitude adjustment without losing your mind:
1. Identify Emotions.
Help your child self-express via identifying feelings and choosing words carefully when frustrated or making demands. “It’s okay to tell me how you feel, but you need to speak respectfully. Even if you’re tired or upset, try to stay calm.”
2. Identify Influences.
Try to identify where some of your child’s bad attitudes come from. One dad noticed his son’s frustration worsened after playing video games. Perhaps your child is mimicking the behavior of someone else—a parent, sibling, friend, or even TV character—who complains or criticizes.
3. Point Out Attitudes.
“Identify a thinking error that needs to change. You can offer the insight of an objective outsider.” For example, if your child had a bad day and takes it out on his brother, he may need help in how to properly handle his emotions. Target more than the behavior; look deeper to see what’s causing the trouble.
[ctt template=”12″ link=”JX86e” via=”no” ]Target more than the behavior; look deeper to see what’s causing the trouble.[/ctt]
4. Challenge Attitudes.
If your child is complaining about doing his chores or homework, offer motivation to change his attitude.
Dad: Son, how’s your homework coming?
Son: It stinks. Why do I have to do it anyway?
Dad: You can do it! Try working hard for the next hour, then take a break. We’ll get ice cream together.
The real reward of accomplishing something will be what motivates a change in attitude.
5. Teach Responses.
6. Affirm Progress.
When you notice your child making improvements, praise him and let him know you’re proud. Even if you’re tempted, skip comments such as, “It’s about time!” Instead, encourage him in his progress and keep the focus positive.
Turansky and Miller summarize dealing with a complaining child with this: “Attitudes are windows into a child’s heart. If you help your children learn to adjust attitudes, they will have the skills necessary to develop healthy perspectives about life’s challenges and struggles as they get older.”
Used with permission from the book Good and Angry: Exchanging Frustration for Character…in You and Your Kids! by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Instead of complaining when things are hard, what is something you can do instead?”
Even though most of us would love to have a healthy relationship with our parents, that just isn’t always the case. Just because someone is your parent doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship with them will be perfect. If you feel tension because your mom is too controlling or if she constantly makes you feel guilty, then it can be difficult to build a successful relationship.
To be frank, this kind of relationship isn’t healthy (even if it can be common). As much as your mom would probably love to guide you throughout your life and prevent you from getting hurt, it’s also her job to let you make mistakes so you can grow and learn. Often times parents are stuck in their own ways (just like children can be), and continue this behavior because they think they’re doing the right thing. There is probably an underlying issue as to why your mom is controlling and if you want to fix it, getting to the root of these issues is key.
For instance, licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, Psy.D., states in an email with Bustle, “There are many reasons a mom might be controlling. One reason is anxiety. People with anxiety tend to think the worst case scenario and fear that their life or their child’s life is in danger at any given moment. Being controlling is a way to protect her child from harm and a way to manage her anxiety. Another reason a mom might be controlling is that it is a learned a pattern of behavior. She may have grown up with controlling parents which taught her that controlling is how you parent effectively. Unless she has gone to parent training or therapy in an effort to change, she is most likely going to do what her parents did.”
“Another reason a mom may be controlling is if she has power issues. She may have grown up in a home where she felt out of control or powerless. Her feelings may not have been respected or she may not have had a voice in [her] home. If she hasn’t done the work to get over this, she will continue fighting this power struggle throughout her whole life,” continues Schewitz.
In short, moms are human, and it’s completely natural for them to make mistakes. But if the above stories kind of sound like your mom, here are nine more signs that indicate your mother may be too controlling.
Own your reactions and actions.
Don’t like your boss? Poor managers cost organizations around $400 billion in one year. Have a difficult time dealing with your family (or maybe you’ve chosen not to deal with them)? You’re not alone here, either. Tired of fighting with your spouse and ready to divorce? Join the 40-50% of Americans who do this in their first marriage (higher for second marriages).
If you want to read the articles and research that have been written on difficult relationships, you will need to allocate several hours of your time to plow through all of it. There is no lack of people out there – whether family members, workplace associates, neighbors, exes, “friends” or others – who seem intent on making your life miserable. The truth is that many people operate with bad behavior. The reasons for this are many, but include:
- Lack of self-esteem or self-confidence
- Unhappiness with themselves or their lives
- Difficult situations such as financial duress, job loss, health issues etc.
- Jealousy or envy of others
- Difficulty communicating
When someone exhibits destructive, mean or otherwise uncaring behavior, they are usually acting out from something going on with them, not with you. They may say it is about you – “Oh, you make me SO mad!” – but the reality is that people who manifest these negative behaviors are showing an outward display of inward pain.
However, where does that pain get inflicted? On you! It’s hard when someone is yelling at you, forgetting your birthday, trying to undermine you, being unnecessarily nasty, ignoring you, etc. to remember “That other person is in pain.” Unfortunately, when you don’t remember this, you are giving your power away. Their pain actually becomes your pain. You ruminate. You think about how you will deal with them next time. You fantasize about saying just the right thing to knock them off their game. You buy a voodoo doll and stick pins in it each time you leave them.
Our minds and our attention are drawn to the person’s negative behavior, and we keep our minds focused on what they have done (or not done) to, and for, us. The problem with this is that the other person doesn’t change. Your rumination is not going to change their narcissism. Your attempts to say “just the right thing” won’t shift their unhappiness with themselves (unless perhaps you are a trained therapist). So the cycle continues. They act badly, you react and feel badly, and nothing changes.
Next time you encounter someone’s bad behavior, consider taking back your power. Realize that you can own your reactions and actions, and can actually shift the dynamic and lessen the sting inflicted by the negative person. It takes work and it isn’t easy, but if you are game try these five steps next time you encounter the difficult ones:
- Seek to understand. This doesn’t mean give the bad behavior a break, and it doesn’t mean get your psychology degree so you can understand their motivations. It simply means asking yourself: “Is there something else at work here?” You typically react to the bad behavior; instead, simply pause to ask what’s underneath the bad behavior. Some negative actions require compassion, which most are loath to give when they have been injured somehow.
- Do an objective analysis. Instead of ruminating and reacting, take a moment to act like a consultant or a detective and analyze the situation with facts and data: “My boss is a yeller. He seems to like to yell about things. He has asked me to fix something. I am going to fix it.” Then go ahead and fix it! Forget the inner dialogue about what a jerk your boss is, and become clinical and objective.
- Identify impact. Is your sister just an unhappy, nasty person, but it doesn’t really affect anything in your life? Is your neighbor always pointing out how horrible your lawn looks but then the day goes on without serious impact? There are some things that just don’t matter in the scheme of things. If someone is negative toward you, and it doesn’t really impact you, just let it go. Let them – and their negative behavior – just walk away, and get on with your day.
- Give up the need to win. Yes, this one is extremely difficult, especially in personal relationships when you know you are “right”. Fighting to win doesn’t actually benefit anyone. It just leaves bad feelings in its wake. If you want to be rewarded for being right, sign up for “Jeopardy” or some other game show. In relationships, “right” usually means hard feelings.
- Have a mantra or a calming practice you employ. Your father is telling you all the things you’ve done wrong, your ex is regaling you with stories about his wonderful new love, your former co-worker is telling you how great the workplace has become since you left… choose to breathe, and have a saying or little ditty you enjoy. Sing some lines of a song you like in your head while you are listening with only one ear. Go internal in a positive way to block out what might hurt you.
Negative behavior feels like it comes at you. It can seem impenetrable when you are on the receiving end of it. Decide to take your own power back, and be ready the next time someone seems intent on upsetting you somehow. Turn their negative energy into your positive power.
Talking back, sassy comments and rude gestures by children are a common complaint among parents and can cause some problems within the family if the behavior is not acknowledged. What can parents and childcare providers do to put a stop to this unacceptable behavior? Here are some tips:
Be Aware of What Language Is Used Around your Child
What kind of talk occurs around your child? How much sarcasm, fighting, and inappropriate language is he exposed to? Children model their parents and if you are exhibiting undesirable behaviors, then your child is sure to repeat them. If you know your home is not the place your child is picking up these behaviors, pay attention to his other environments, such as how daycare providers speak to each other, and how relatives speak to each other. If you notice one environment is where the bad behaviors are stemming from, you may have to change the environment.
Notice Your Child’s Feelings
Often when a child talks back, he’s really expressing is anger, frustration, fear, or hurt. Talking back guarantees you will pay attention, and negative attention is better than none.
Talking back and other behavior issues are more common during times of transition, such as a new baby in the house, a change in a parent’s work schedule, or something going on in school.
Your child may feel ignored or abandoned and resort to backtalk just to get you to pay attention.
Pay Attention to Your Child’s Self-Esteem, Sense of Powerless and Level of Comfort
Does the youngster feel powerless or not listened to? Does he seem out of control? Is it possible that the back-talk occurs because the child has found that it is the most effective way to get an adult to listen to him and to get what he wants? Again, if this is the case, tackling these issues first may resolve the problem.
Establish Expected Behavior and Give Alternatives
Teach kids that talking about it not allowed and give alternatives for what saying are allowed. Simply say: “Talking that way is not allowed” and provide an example with the appropriate way to say the statement. Remain firm and direct and coordinate these expectations with all caregivers.
Consistency is the key to changing behaviors. Show children an alternative, polite way to use language.
This important lesson must be understood by a back-talking child. Adults can simply say: “I am not going to talk with you or listen while you have this tone with me. Once you change how you talk to me, then I will be glad to listen.” Parents and caregivers should always follow through with listening and paying attention once the child does change his tone.
Teach Proper Communications Methods
Sometimes, a child really doesn’t know how to properly ask for things or to communicate. In an appropriate setting and time (and not when a child has just challenged an adult with back-talk), calmly explain to a youngster how to properly communicate. Reward your child’s ability to properly community with positive reinforcement. However, be sure that they understand that simply asking respectfully still does not necessarily mean they will achieve the outcome they are requesting. Praise your child’s good behaviors. You may say “I really like the way you said you asked for two more minutes on the IPad but it is time for dinner.”
Teach Your Child How to Handle Disappointment and Failure
Many times talking back comes from a child feeling disappointed or angry. Teach your child ways to cope or even voice disappointment or displeasure without talking back to an adult. Encourage your child to vocalize frustration and feelings of sadness and not bottle these feelings up so later explode with an attitude.
Role Play Scenarios
Reinforce that inappropriate reactions/behaviors should always be followed by an apology and an attempt to again relay the communication in a non-“sassy” tone. Role-play with your child alternative ways to speak in certain situations and make it fun and silly. Children are more inclined to participate in silly games and will remember the games when it is time to communicate properly.
by Janene Schmitz January 24, 2018
Everyone knows that new moms get a ton of unsolicited advice; it comes with the territory. So what’s the big deal, and why shouldn’t you impart some well-intentioned wisdom without waiting for them to ask?
The reason is asymmetric information. Asymmetric information simply means that in a given scenario, one party holds more complete information than the other. In other words, parents hold more information about their own child and family situation than anyone else does. When you give someone your opinion on a topic related to their child rearing, you often do not have the whole picture, leading to frustration on the parents’ part. This is true regardless of how well you know the mom — friends, sisters, grandparents are all included in this list.
Here are a few common ways that your lack of information affects the mother when you give her unsolicited advice:
This one is the biggest and, therefore, first. When my daughter was born, my husband and I carefully picked out a pediatrician we love and feel we can trust to give us the best information regarding our baby’s health. She is great, and we still use her. However, our baby had terrible witching hours/maybe mild colic. She screamed every night from around 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. It was horrible. My husband was a champ and took that shift every night so I could sleep and have enough strength to get up and feed her the rest of the night. Our doctor gave some advice on how we could help, but, ultimately, it’s just something a lot of newborns do and she was honest with us about that.
Enter: Anyone who had a child in the ‘80s or ‘90s. According to them we were basically starving our baby by not putting rice cereal in her bottle. “She is obviously hungry,” they said. Nevermind the fact that standard medical care has changed drastically and parents are advised not to start any solids until at least four months (six months is preferred), but babies have aspirated on adding rice cereal to their bottles. The well-meaning advisors were not up to date with standard medical care, and simply didn’t have all the information we did.
Pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period are exhausting and full of raging hormones for the new mama. It’s great because those hormones help bond you to your sweet new baby, but they also wreak havoc on your emotional stability.
Constantly hearing about what you should do, why you should do it, or having the passive aggressive questioning thrown your way (i.e., “Are you sure you want to do that?”) is debilitating for someone who is already worried about keeping this new human alive. Everytime my daughter cried, I felt like my heart was tearing in two. People whispering what I should do, or why they think she is crying in my ear was enough to make me scream and tell my husband to lock the doors. I would rather have no help from anyone than deal with that. No one can possibly understand what a new mom is going through, even if you have done it because every mom and every baby is different.
There is no one way to raise a baby. Every parent has to make decisions on what is right for their family. For example, I have two different couple friends. One adheres to a pretty strict schedule. Playdates revolve around naps, and she and her husband rarely go out after 7 p.m. because they know that this structure helps with their two-year-old son. The other couple is the exact opposite. Their son is around the same age, but isn’t really on any schedule. They take him everywhere, he sleeps when he is tired, and is a good-natured kid. Neither of them is right or wrong. Both their sons are healthy and happy two-year- olds. We generally fall somewhere in between because it is what works for us. You do not know why a parent has their child out late, or why they seem to “rigid” in their schedule. You are not privy to their private parenting decisions, and so you should not give advice on whether or not their baby should be in bed earlier or how they could relax their schedule a bit.
To you, your advice or opinion is well-intentioned, and you do not understand why some moms are so sensitive to a bit of advice here or there. What you do not know is that five other people have all given their opinion on that particular subject this week, and usually all five opinions are different. So to the mom, it is a constant onslaught of what you should change, do better, or think of more quickly. Add in the fact that there is often no clear right answer and the hormones we have already talked about, and it is enough to send anyone through the roof. Again, you don’t have all the necessary information. Seeing the theme yet?
I know, this is probably where I will lose a lot of people, but if you have the patience to hear me out, then I think you will agree with why I say this.
A gift is not a gift if it is a burden. Unwanted advice is a burden to new (and even experienced) mothers. Even if they ignore it and move on, there is the burden of wondering if the person giving it will be offended. I know the catalyst for giving lots of continual advice is a desire to help, which stems from the desire to be involved in the new mom or baby’s life. That intention can be good, but needs to be harnessed into something more effective. It needs to be a gift of what the mom needs, and you cannot assume you know what she needs. If advice is wanted I promise the mom will ask. If she doesn’t ask, she doesn’t want it.
So, how can you do something actually helpful for a new mama?
Ask! I promise, she will tell you. By taking a step back and letting her know you want to help in a way that is actually helpful, you will make her feel loved and comfortable enough to ask your advice once in a while. I have one friend who gave me a book on baby sleep when I had my baby with a note that said, “This really helped us, but I know every baby is different. Feel free to pass it back if it isn’t helpful for you, and let me know if I can do anything. I know how hard the postpartum phase is.”
That friend is the first person I go to (other than our pediatrician) if I need advice. She cared enough to help, without making me feel like she knew my daughter better than I did. She did not assume to have all the information necessary to fix my problems.
We have all been there. You know, when you’re about to lose your marbles.
The steam is coming out of your ears, and you wish it was OK to just scream. You may say some inappropriate words under your breath as you’re about to look at your child.
You have had a long day of whys, whines and tantrums.
The last thing you want to hear has been said, and your mom patience has been thrown out the window.
Your cool is nowhere to be seen, and you wish you could calm down but there isn’t enough wine to relax you.
You feel the anger flood through your body, and you never knew a pint-sized little person could get to you.
You hear words come out of your child’s mouth that strike a chord. You turn and look at them and give “the mom look” before you even say a word.
The look where your eyes bug out of your head, your lips clench together, and your nose tweaks to one side.
You don’t even know you are giving a look. But the look is words that you want to speak. Your child starts to know this look at a young age.
The look your own mother gave you when you were younger, and you swore you would never give that look to your children.
That one look is all you need. No words and your children know you mean business.
25 Reasons Why A Mom Wants To Give “The MOM Look”
“But Mom, I forgot how to do that”
“I’m too tired, I can barely walk”
“I forgot to brush my teeth”
“You are the meanest mom I have ever met”
“I don’t like rules”
“I hate this dinner”
“I don’t like potatoes anymore”
“I used to like turkey sandwiches, now I don’t”
“But Billy’s mom lets him do it”
“I’m going to ask Dad”
“Why do I have to put the fork on the left side of the plate?”
My sister and I are pretty much as close as best friends, and while this arrangement has been amazing, I know it’s not typically the norm. It’s a bummer when I hear about siblings who have nothing in common, but totally understand that it’s much better to stop speaking to a sibling than to let a toxic relationship fester for years. Not all sisters get along, whether it is based on personality differences, or possibly due to household issues from the past.
Having a brother or sister that you don’t get along with isn’t necessarily the end of the world. While you might have to reunite (and be civil) for big family events, you shouldn’t feel obligated to keep up a fake relationship based solely on the fact that you’re relatives. No matter what caused the break between the two of you, you probably would have easily mended things if it were easy enough to do so. (For example, your sister stealing your sweater is in a completely different category than your sister stealing your fiancГ©.) Even if your parents have tried to get you to forget the past and move forward, it’s much easier said than done. I’ve seen sibling relationships crumble for a number of reasons, the top reason being that the two of you are so different, you can’t even relate to each other on key issues.
You might feel guilty about letting the relationship fall apart, but if you at least treat it with respect, and don’t try to tear apart the entire family based on your negative opinions of your sister or brother, you can definitely thrive based on this period of separation.
Here are a few situations in which cutting off communication with your sibling is the absolute right move.
1. You have nothing in common with each other.
Talking with your sibling is similar to talking to your mom’s aunt that you see once every five years. Your brother or sister has opposing views with you on absolutely every topic, and you’ve ruined holidays based on starting up a political debate with them after a glass or two of wine. In a situation like this, it’s better to keep your distance for the sake of everyone else.
2. Your sibling has no respect for your romantic life.
Whether it’s hitting on your boyfriend, or treating him like absolute garbage during their initial meeting, your sibling just doesn’t understand limits. And it’s not like she’s looking out for your well-being, or thinking that nobody is “good enough for her sister” вЂ” it just seems like your sibling doesn’t want you to be happy, period.
3. Your sibling has a grudge that you just can’t resolve.
Maybe something happened between you two during childhood, and your brother or sister can’t let it go. Instead, they take their anger out on you. Even if you’ve tried to mend the relationship, it’s obvious that they’ll never stop painting you as a villain, even if you had no control over the situation.
4. There’s been a sketchy issue with money.
Everyone hits a rough patch every once in awhile, and lending a sibling a few bucks isn’t unheard of вЂ” it’s actually a really sweet gesture. But if your sibling treats you like their personal bank, it’s healthy to walk away from the situation. There’s helpful, and there’s financially dependent. Your sibling is the latter. And you probably shouldn’t expect to see any of that cash ever again, even if they promise they’ll eventually pay you back.
5. Your sibling has lost your trust.
If you trusted them with a secret, and they immediately squealed to mom and dad, you might lose your ability to open up to them. Unless this secret was something that could have impacted your life negatively, this is a somewhat sneaky thing to do. It’s like they were just looking for an opportunity to throw you under the bus.
6. Your self-esteem plummets when your sibling is around.
If your brother or sister uses every family get-together as an opportunity to pick at your appearance, or your job, or your relationships, it’s pretty obvious that he or she is using you as their personal punching bag. Maybe they’re insecure about their own lives, and think that pointing out your flaws is the best way to keep the heat off of their own situation. It’s not right, and you shouldn’t stand for it.
7. You’ve never, ever been close.
It’s nice to imagine a great relationship with your sibling, but if you two live completely different lives on different sides of the continent, starting one now might be a little difficult. If your sibling never really took the time to get to know you, or vice versa, chances are that you’re both content with the way things are. Siblings can help enrich your life, but if you’ve just never had that type of relationship with yours, it’s OK to back off and live life the way you always have.
8. Your sibling has been abusive to you in the past.
Whether verbally or physically, your sibling has gone too far before, causing you pain and possibly quite a bit of fear. Nobody should ever be in an abusive situation, and if your sibling has a prior history of being aggressive in any way, the right thing to do is cut contact. Don’t put yourself in danger based solely on the fact that you’re blood related.
Images: Sayamol Boonto / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images; Giphy (4)
Empower yourself to be less vulnerable.
As a parent coach, I often hear concerns similar to what Joan recently said to me: “My adult daughter Briana knows exactly what to say to make me feel guilty and then I give in to her unreasonable demands. I try to be kind and generous but she makes me feel like I am the worst, most unsupportive parent in the world!”
Before I go further, let me say this: I realize that there are many toxic parents of adult children out there. If you are an adult child of truly toxic parents who traumatized you, I empathize. I also work with many adult children who have been mistreated and abused by parents. And as a parent myself, I’ve made my own share of mistakes and could have done some things better. At the same time, there are countless parents who try their best while falling far short of being perfect.
So, if you happen to be a frustrated adult child, know and reclaim your value. Don’t compromise your worth by riding on a horse named Victim and repeatedly heading to the same rodeo. Don’t blame your parents for your own struggles without also taking a look in the mirror. Ask yourself how you can move toward your own valuable independence. Bottom line: Learn to feel good about knowing your own value as an adult even if your parent(s) did not do the best job of seeing it or expressing it.
Returning now to the opening of this post: Joan’s description of her adult daughter, Briana, (names changed for privacy) is heart-wrenching. She feels vulnerable to her adult daughter’s manipulations. Many of my clients share similar stories with me. They feel sucked into the vortex of guilt-inducing messages such as:
- If you really loved me, you wouldn’t question why I need this!
- You make me feel like the black sheep of this family!
- You’re selfish and never think about anyone but yourself!
- You invalidate me all the time!
- I thought I could count on you but obviously I can’t!
- Fine, I’ll just end up homeless!
As a parent, maybe you can identify with being on the receiving end of toxic, manipulative messages like these. And if you can, you may ask, “So, now what do I do?” I can tell you that Joan learned to respond to these types of manipulations from Briana in a much more emotionally healthier way.
Now, what about you?
If you are sick and tired of the manipulation, here’s a helpful word to empower you: Enough! As in, Enough is enough!
When your adult child tries to engage you through shame with pressuring demands, when your adult child is emotionally abusive, or when your adult child fails to acknowledge your love and/or the positive things you have done, you have to draw the line and say, or at the very least, think, Enough:
- Enough of being a punching bag for misplaced and displaced disappointments and frustrations.
- Enough of beating yourself up for past mistakes you’ve made as a parent.
- Enough of being what I call a SWAT team parent. Stop setting yourself up to be on call to automatically respond to and solve the next manufactured, drama-laden crisis.
- Enough negatively comparing yourself to parents of adult children who do not have the same struggles as your own.
The next time your adult child tries to manipulate you or is hurtful toward you, step back and do the following:
- Whether communicating in person, on the phone, or through text messages, within your mind, rise up and watch the toxic manipulations from above.
- Understand these manipulations for what they are and thank yourself for seeing them instead of getting sucked in and being a victim to them.
- Now, think “Enough!” and, if you feel it’s appropriate, then also say, “Enough.”
- Realize that now knowing when enough is enough empowers you to set those crucial boundaries with your adult child and no longer be a victim of manipulations.