Today I get to welcome a post from Kristin Little, who did so much to help make The Co-Parents’ Handbook what it is. Thank you for these great words of wisdom, Kristin!
By Kristin Little, Contributor to The Co-Parents’ Handbook
I find myself using certain phrases with children over and over again, ones that I’ve found so useful that I thought I’d pass them along. The reason having a good phrase is so helpful, is that you have to think less and can use your mental energy to stay calm and confident. Often they were the result of some deep thinking (after some big mistakes or difficult exchanges) as to why I felt something that I did as a parent or counselor was important, fair or explained a stance upon which I was willing to stand firm.
“I care about you/love you enough to be okay with you being mad at me.”
This is a great way to let kids know that their anger towards you won’t change your actions.
“You can make a mistake, it’s your job as a kid- it’s how you turn it around that I’m interested in.”
Kids often feel overwhelmed when they are “in trouble” this phrase great in helping them focus on what you really want them to do rather than on their own guilt or embarrassment. The idea of “turning it around” introduces a useful skill of making things better after making mistakes.
“Remember, with me you don’t get good things by doing bad things.”
This is a great catch all for when children begin to try to control or manipulate things with tantrums, sulking or other difficult behaviors. Remember it’s a kindness to your child’s future happiness to not reward behavior that is harmful, unkind or disrespectful.
“It seems like you are feeling ________, is that right or is it something else?”
This is a great way to help kids label their feelings and it plays into the natural tendency of children’s desire to tell you that you got it wrong!
“I think it’s time for a do-over.”
One of my favorite techniques for when things are really going sideways—it levels the field by letting kids know even adults make mistakes and that it is possible for both of you to let go of bad feelings or experiences (I especially like to pair it with a good hug).
Use my ideas, or find ones that feel comfortable and meaningful to you. They are a great shortcut to teaching meaningful lessons in just a few words and can help make you job just a little easier.