Can you slow down long enough to see their intention?
Can you see that they didn’t mean to “break the rules”? They were just being curious.
Can you see that they didn’t mean to hurt anyone? They just don’t yet have the foresight to realise it might happen (even if you could).
Can you see how overwhelmed they were by their own feelings? They didn’t mean to make your life harder. They just aren’t ready yet to manage their own feelings.
Can you see that they wanted to leave the house on time as much as you did? They just couldn’t find the words to tell you they were anxious, and it came out as procrastination instead. (And they really didn’t like the red t-shirt).
Can you see that they didn’t make a conscious choice not to finish their school work? They tried. But they aren’t developmentally ready to tune out all the distractions, even if the child next to them can. Instead of expecting them to change - what can you change about the environment? How can you set them up for success instead of struggle?
Can you see that they didn’t mean to fidget endlessly? It’s not to annoy you. It’s not disrespecting you. It doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. It’s just their body, meeting their need for movement. Their brain doesn’t really get a say.
Can you see that they didn’t mean to drive you crazy by spending all day on their screens? Our tech is designed to hook us in. They aren’t yet developmentally mature enough to resist it (I’m not sure any of us are). They need your help.
This list could go on.
My point is actually this: there are so many times, SO MANY TIMES, when we attribute conscious choice and intention to our children’s behaviour, and we get it completely wrong.
We react according to the story we tell ourselves… so when we attribute conscious choice and intention to these moments, we are far more likely to react with shame and blame.
Instead of offering help, we get mad, and we let it show. We puff ourselves up and we make them feel small. We step into our power and push them out of theirs.
😠 “Ok Caroline, so what are you saying? It’s just a free for all with no boundaries because they didn’t intend to break the rules? That’s the whole problem with kids these days!”.
No. It’s not a free for all. Boundaries, limits and guidance help kids feel safe - but only if they are implemented with love, empathy, and an explanation.
😠 “That just looks like a long list of EXCUSES”.
They aren’t excuses. They are reasons. And they world would be a better place if we could all learn to tell the difference.
💖Shall we continue?
…Most of all, our kids need us to really see them.
See what is truly going on. See how hard they are actually trying. See that they really do want to do well.
They aren’t consciously choosing or intending to be in this place of struggle. It doesn’t feel good to them either.
The first step is to slow down.
Bite your tongue, and breathe.
Get curious about what is really going on.
Name the fact that you can see this isn’t on purpose.
Watch as the relief of being properly seen and understood floods over them.
It might just make a lifetime of difference.