All posts tagged positive discipline

When You Blow It As a Parent – Dealing with Guilt and Shame

utah_county_reception_venue CROPPEDParenting rewards us with plenty of smiles, laughter and celebrations. There are lots of highs when kids accomplish new skills or utter those “out of the mouths of babes” comments. When parenting is great, it’s really great!

Being a parent also has its lows – sleepless nights, sick toddlers and the everyday pressure to keep kids fed, clean and expanding in moral development. It’s not an easy job and all parents know that some days it feels like too much. You’ve been there. I don’t know a parent who hasn’t been there. The pressure slowly builds up inside of you – your words start to sound snippy, your tone of voice raises or lowers, signaling that you’re nearing the end of your rope. So when a drink is spilled or siblings argue over a toy, the event becomes  the last straw and you find yourself exploding with shouts of threats and shame. Of course this scares your kids – they cry and you hope the neighbors aren’t home to hear the commotion.

In many homes, this scene ends with some of all family members in separate rooms to step away from the conflict and calm down. After you calm down, you try to process what happened and why it ended so harshly. You might float back and forth between blaming the kids for being so selfish as to want the same red truck ( because there’s another truck exactly like it in the toy box!) and blaming yourself for and wondering why you were SO bothered over one little argument.

How Does the Guilt or Shame Show Up for You?

If you’re like most parents, you feel guilt or shame after a blow up with your kids. You might feel guilt that you yelled. After all, you’re a good parent who loves your kids. How could have screamed those awful things? You might feel stupid about the threats you made. You know that you’re not going to take the toys away for three months, so why would you say such a silly thing? Maybe you’re still wondering about your neighbors and what they think of your parenting skills. Did they hear you screaming uncontrollably?

When my son was two-ish, I lost it while sitting in a parking lot in front of the CVS pharmacy in Simpsonville, SC. I still remember exactly where I was and the direction my car was facing in the parking lot. I screamed at the top of my lungs at my precious little boy. (I posted his picture yesterday on the Think It Through Parenting facebook page. He was almost four in the picture.) My son was sitting in the back seat on the right side. I have a vivid visual memory of the event. All of the doors were closed in the car and the windows were rolled up. I don’t remember why I was upset or what triggered my yelling. I do remember getting out of the car and feeling shame when I saw a man walking past. I was positive he’d heard me screaming from inside of the car just seconds before. I was embarrassed for sure. As I opened the door to get my son out of his car seat, the man smiled and said, “Aren’t children beautiful!”

I remember feeling intense shame and to this day I feel guilt when I think back on this event that happened eighteen years ago. Back when this happened, in 1995 I’d just recently read Jane Nelsen’s book Positive Discipline for the first time. I was excited about the new ideas I’d read on parenting and was trying hard to implement some of them. After I yelled at my son, I felt intense guilt and wondered if I was going to be able to be a good parent.

In Daring Greatly, Brene’ Brown writes, “According to Dr. Hartling, in order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves and keeping secrets. Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please. And some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame.” How do you deal with the shame of making parenting mistakes?

What I Know Now That I’ve Learned from Positive Discipline

Since that day in 1995, I’ve learned tons about lowering my stress level. I’ve gained new skills to keep myself calm. I’ve acquired plenty of parenting tools to navigate differently around power struggles. (I’m sure my son and I were in some sort of power struggle when I yelled.) I’ve even practiced different ways to apologize when I make mistake. On top of all that, I view the mistake as a learning opportunity. I commit to making a new plan for how I will handle the situation differently the next time a similar one arises.

All of the tools above have helped me deal with my guilt in a way that is empowering for me as a person. And I’ve discovered some powerful teaching opportunities for my kids about  my mistakes. I now understand that we all make mistakes as parents. To me the issue is – what do we do as parents after we make the mistake?

As parents, we have lots of choices of how we handle the mistake. Some of us don’t discuss the mistake. We’re too embarrassed and don’t want to bring up the awful subject again. Or maybe you’re the type who hugs your kids and says a short, “I’m sorry” and you move on through the day without discussing the issue. Possibly you’re the type who apologizes over and over to your kids throughout the rest of the day. I think I’ve tried all of these methods and other ones until I focused on learning the Three R’s of Recovery, one of the Positive Discipline Parenting Tools.

I’ve been working on this issue of recovering from parenting mistakes since 1995. I’m much better at being proactive about my mistakes rather than being reactive. I now know that the actions I take after I make a mistake can be wonderful teachable moments for my children. I can be a role model for what to do after I make a mistake. What an awesome gift to give to my children!  And I don’t think my kids would learn these concepts as well if I was perfect and always kept my cool.  I think they learn more from watching my example – seeing how I pick up the pieces after I’ve caused damage. I’m not saying that I don’t feel any guilt or shame at all now when I blow it with my kids. I do believe that feeling a healthy sense of guilt indicates that I experience empathy and have a moral conscience. But now I’ve learned proactive ways to mend my mistakes, acts that relieve my guilt in a refreshing way because I know I’m also teaching and modeling skills.

We Can All Learn New Skills

I should probably add that now I don’t “lose it” often with my kids and haven’t for years. Through practicing Positive Discipline, I’ve learned to walk away or take a break before I reach the point of flipping my lid as well as other conflict resolution tools. There are so many layers and variables to dealing with parenting guilt, but using great relationship tools after the blow up is one that has helped tremendously.

In a future post, I’ll offer ideas about how exactly to use the Three R’s of Recovery.Kelly014

Kelly Pfeiffer

Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Imperfect Mom to 2 Teens/Imperfect Step-Mom to 1 Teen & 1 Young Adult



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

How Spending Quality Time with Kids Improves Behavior

quality time project quality time project with frame and wordsAre you and your child in a constant power struggle? Do you spend more time arguing with your child than not? When you try to change your child’s behavior, do you get lots of backtalk and resistance? These may be symptoms that the relationship between you and  your child is super strained and not growing. Yes, it could also be a phase that your child (or you) is going through, but either way spending regular quality time together can improve the situation. In this post, I’ll explain how the Positive Discipline tool of “special time” makes the top of my list for parenting tools that affect child behavior.

In my recent article, Top 5 Positive Discipline Parenting Tools You Need in 2013, I listed my favorite parenting tools and promised that I’d write a more in-depth article on each one of the tools. Here’s the first article.

Common Parenting Problem – Discipline Without Relationship

Think about a past teacher, boss, mentor that you admire – a person whom you respect and someone from whom you learned a lot. Odds are that this person was good at building a relationship with you. There are exceptions to every principle, but when it comes to teaching people anything, relationship is the superglue that bonds our life altering experiences – our growth.

For some parents, it’s hard to understand how relationship and discipline fit together. You may not have experienced or witnessed many examples of this in your life. Some of us were taught to believe that including the relationship in discipline is counterproductive because it’s “soft” and takes away from the firmness required in discipline. But the truth is that we learn best from those we trust.

Think about your adult relationships. If you called your spouse, adult friend, significant other to ask them to stop by the store and pick up some tomatoes on the way home, what would they say? If your relationship is going well, they’d most likely say, “Sure, how many? What kind?” If however the two of you have been arguing for the past three days, you might get a different response, “You called to ask me a favor? After all the things you’ve said to me lately?” It’s the same with kids and with all of your relationships.

Keeping the Relationship Glued Together

An ounce of superglue bonding is worth a pound of improved behavior. The secret is to apply an ounce regularly. Strong relationships are formed over time though repeated positive interactions. That’s why the tool of special time recommends scheduling one-on-one time between parent and child at least once a week for children ages 6 and up. This is like a weekly date of 45 minutes to an hour in which parent and child spend quality time together. For children younger than age 6, it’s recommended that parent and child spend 10-15 minutes a day in one-on-one time.

Making It Happen – Special Time with Children

Three simple tips will help you implement one-on-one time regularly with your child.

  1. Schedule It: Put your special time on the calendar. If you can find a time that is the same each week, it really helps.
  2. Try Different Things: You’ll get to know your child better if you see him or her in different situations. Play a board game at home one week, go to a park and swing another week, ride bikes around the neighborhood another time. Maybe take turns choosing the activity.
  3. No Lectures or Life Lessons Allowed: Special time is a time to simply enjoy your child and get to know your child.  Special time isn’t an opportunity to discuss grades, messy rooms or sibling arguments. Do more listening than talking and it’s okay if no one’s talking too.

“We do Panera Bread a lot, just sitting and talking. I think that because I sit and I just listen, then she shares more.  It’s opened up that communication. I also show interest in her interests. I sit with her sometimes when she watches videos. She loves to draw and I ask questions about her drawings.”

– Kim Phillips, mother of a 10 year old daughter

Examples and Ideas for Special Time

mom daughter tea partyYour imagination is the only limit for what you’ll do during special time. I’ve been having special time with my kids since they were preschoolers.  They are now ages 19 and 16. I’ll list some of my favorite ideas and then I’ll provide links to some web articles I’ve written about special time. I hope you’ll try this tool and then reflect back after six weeks of spending one-on-one time with you child. I think you’ll notice a difference.

  • Pack a picnic and take a bike ride together
  • Take a board game to a restaurant and play while you sip fun drinks (I’ve play chess at an indoor restaurant with my son and Sorry at an outdoor drive in type restaurant with my daughter.)
  • Take a blanket, snack and deck of cards and sit by a lake

Kelly014Kelly Pfeiffer

Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer

Think It Through Parenting

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather