Don’t Flip Out: Choose to See the Good in Your Child
And flip around the potentially negative situation.
Whenever we’re faced with a situation with our children (or anyone for that matter), we’re so quick to size it up as either “positive” or “negative.” We usually do this subconsciously, so we don’t even realize that it is happening.
In order to change things around, we first need to notice what is happening. For example, when a child looks at the floor while an authority figure admonishes him, the typical reaction from the adult is to get even more upset and chastise the child further. “You should look at an adult when they are talking to you!” The adult reacts, thinking that the child is rude and disrespectful, and needs to be taught a lesson.
Now let’s flip this situation around, so that we create a bond between ourselves and our children so that they want to be respectful, instead of us trying to force them to be.
To illustrate, here’s a real-life challenge I experienced. To celebrate my daughter’s 17th birthday, her friends decided to throw her a surprise. They showed up at the house with party hats, faces painted, blowing party bugles, with food and lots of homemade signs with all their inside jokes. They made a LOT of noise. It was 10:30 PM and I had been out most of the night for a teacher’s orientation. So the house was (more than a) little messy. I was already running late putting the little ones to bed. My nerves were taut. It was impossible to even try putting anyone to sleep with the loud shrieking teenagers shaking the walls of the house until midnight.
How do you view this situation? Many people would label this as bad. How rude for friends to barge in at such an hour and be so inconsiderate of the family.
But I kept this in mind: No situation is actually bad or good. It is purely the way we see it. Our perception is the deciding factor!
With this mindset shift, I kept myself calm and didn’t hurt my teenaged daughter’s feelings.
I was grateful that my daughter has friends that adore her so much, that they went to such great lengths to make her birthday meaningful. I realized that given their schedules and needing time to get everything ready, they couldn’t do it any earlier. And I also knew that the memories of such a fun time together would last for years. In two days, the inconvenience of such a late night wouldn’t make a difference to anyone.
With this mindset shift, I kept myself calm and didn’t hurt my teenaged daughter’s feelings or our relationship. There were no mean exchanges, no tension, no relationship drift.
So with the child looking at the floor, is it true that a child must look at an adult talking to them while they are in middle of being put down? That’s what is considered socially appropriate, but is it helping them be confident people? They are already in an uncomfortable situation, and looking at the floor is their coping mechanism not to run away!
While I don’t endorse giving lectures to anyone about what they did wrong, if you are doing that, do it with sensitivity. Let the child know that you see how strong they are for having listened to something that they probably did not want to hear. For the maturity it takes to do that.
Next time you are faced with something that causes your distress alarm to go off, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What part about this can I be grateful for? Even if it’s not what I wanted, is there something here that I can appreciate and focus on?”
With the High Holidays coming, let’s see our loved ones in a positive light, even when they are not acting perfectly the way we want. And then we can request from God in confidence, “Even though I don’t always act perfectly the way You want, please judge me in a good light.”