We feel seen and heard in the arms of connection. One of my clients expressed it so beautifully when he said, “I just want my dad to connect with my heart instead of my head.”
Over and over this young man feels missed and doesn’t know how to find that connection inside. Whenever he brings up deep emotional issues he feels his dad moves into a controlling posture and all the young man hears is that he is not good enough and must try harder.
Have you ever been there? I know I have. So, the question is how do we connect in the middle of a behavior that begs for control?
First, we must sit with our internal discomfort that arises when a certain behavior triggers a story in us. Instead of acting on the discomfort and controlling the behavior we must connect with our story that is driving the discomfort.
Then we must ask is it true? Most of our stories are ones we learned from our upbringing and are often based on the notion that we must control behavior or our children will be out of control and we will be looked on as “bad” parents. When we connect with this story we are driven to control our child.
What we miss is the connection with our child and their needs in that moment. We must ask ourselves what is going on in this moment and how can I connect with my child’s discomfort and support them in feeling safe and loved?
Instead we often take care of our own discomfort by thinking the child is causing it and then controlling them so they can fix our pain.
What this teaches our child is that they are responsible for our pain and now they need to fix it.
I’ve worked with tons of parents and this is NEVER the message they want to give their children and yet unless they question their story and move toward connection in the moment, they inadvertently do just this.
When you are committed to working with your discomfort, calming yourself and being willing to ignore behavior and move toward connection this is when the miracles happen.
When you are triggered: If the behavior is not dangerous IMMEDIATELY move to a safe space (I head toward the couch). Sit yourself down and spend 90 seconds breathing and being with the feelings that are arising. See if you are willing to hear the story without acting it out with your child. Put your hand on your heart and soothe you returning to a place of connection and peace. Let your child off the hook (if the behavior is dangerous make sure your child is safe). Take the time to comfort yourself knowing if you do you will be able to show up for your child and their needs.
Remember this is a practice and over time it gets easier and easier.
But what if you can’t take the 90 seconds. If I did that, my son would pester me endlessly, wondering why I’m not paying attention to him. Is there a way to calm yourself within the frenzy of the current situation?
Love your line “What this teaches our child is that they are responsible for our pain and now they need to fix it.”
Give it a try and see what happens. When I’m able to slow down, breathe and give myself 90 seconds my daughter gets curious and slows down also. It doesn’t mean you have to disengage from him. You do have to engage with yourself while being there with him. You can do it! Let me know how it goes.