Last week I scared myself. My parenting skills with my tween, who I was helping with homework, deteriorated into yelling.
I didn’t want to yell. I don’t normally yell. What happened? And, more importantly, what can I do differently in the future?
Well, after I apologized to her, I started where I usually start — with recommended books. This time is was How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years (affiliate link) by Julie A. Ross, M.A., recommended by Blues Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and Super Why creator, Angela Santomero.
Which prompted some huge ah-has.
Thoughts –> Feelings
We all get into an unconscious cycle of thoughts leading to feelings leading to actions. (Read Byron Katie to really dig deep into this — I promise it will change your life.)
To break this down, I had to start at the action.
What was my feeling? Or feelings? (I had to think about this for a few minutes.)
Anger. Frustration. Fear.
What were the thoughts that led to those feelings? (I really had to ponder this — this was a lot harder!)
She’s impossible. She’s going to fail school if she doesn’t get her homework done. She’s so uncooperative.
Julie Ross, the author of How to Love a Porcupine, says that to break the cycle, we need to FIRST look at our thoughts. And then alter them so we can experience a different feeling.
OLD THOUGHT: She’s impossible. NEW THOUGHT —> She’s not perfect, none of us are.
OLD THOUGHT: She’s going to fail school. NEW THOUGHT ––> She’s really struggling with this assignment.
OLD THOUGHT: She’s so uncooperative. NEW THOUGHT ––> She’s really frustrated and struggling.
Now I had to look what these new thoughts would make me feel.
She’s not perfect, none of us are. –> compassion and concern
She’s really struggling with this assignment. –> compassion and concern
She’s really frustrated and struggling. –> compassion and concern
WHAT a difference! If I had those new thoughts, and those new feelings, then my actions would be different.
For sure, I wouldn’t yell.
I’d behave as my best parenting self. With patience and kindness.
That’s what I want. And what I want to share. Because it’s so powerful.
Thoughts Are Key
Change starts with realizing our internal dialogue — those thoughts that we don’t even notice until we’ve already had feelings and actions. Shift those thoughts and it will change everything.
Byron Katie says to ask yourself, is that thought even true? REALLY?
Then, how do you feel with that thought?
And, “Who would you be without that thought?”
Then, look at what IS a true thought. Like I did above.
Or, as Katie says, turn that thought around. (Read Bryon Katie’s books or website to get examples on how to do this. It’s the hardest part.)
This works for more than just parenting. I’ve used this in my relationship with my husband, my friends, and my family. It’s incredibly powerful.
Today, join me in breaking the unconscious thought-feeling-action cycle. Leave me a comment and tell me if you’re up for trying this. I want to know!
Also, I hope you’ll download these free “Love Tickets” I made from Julie Ross’ suggestion. She says that the written notes allow our tweens to absorb our messages in their own time, letting their emotions settle down.
Also Read: Family Time Inspiring Quote Journals
Download my "Can't Put 'Em Down" book lists for your kids ages 3 - 13.
Also, I'll send you a bonus "23 Reasons to Read" printable poster!