As much as I want to believe I've got this parenting thing down (the rose-colored glasses of the days when no one is fighting and everyone agrees with me and does what they're told the first time HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAA)....
Newsflash? I so do not have it down to a science.
One day out of the month might actually go according to my dream plan.
The thing I've noticed when trying to help my kid break up with his perfectionism is that:
- it doesn't happen overnite
- I have to be diligent and intentional if I want it to work
- sometimes he's still gonna be a turd and I'm gonna lose my shit (aka I yell when I shouldn't)
I KNOW how to handle these things, I freakin wrote the book on it, and even still? The "system" is imperfect. Because we're human.
I think it's really important to give ourselves grace as we're learning how to teach our kids this new skill set. WE ARE LEARNING TOO.
As a parenting rule, we give ourselves a really hard time for not knowing the answers.
"I should know. I'm the one in charge!"
And when we don't know, we go to that headspace of "who the HELL put me in charge here??"
(Like how am I 35 in my body and responsible for all this when in my head I'm still 19?)
The truth is, we don't have to know.
We don't have to be perfect at this. ANY OF IT.
And to me, that's awesome! Because now you're really living life WITH your kids instead of AT your kids. They get to see you make mistakes!
This is uncomfortable and challenging and humbling. But I promise it's worth it.
I didn't get a lot of apologies growing up, and so I had no idea how to do them as an adult until I watched my husband do it like a pro.
I thought I couldn't mess up. I thought I had to be perfect. Because that was the model set before me. You don't know what you don't know.
So when you lose your temper and yell (after asking them nicely 1000 times dammit just do the thing already)... forgetting that they're little and trying to be independent and carving their own way and they don't have the same skills as you but you feel like you're in a hostage negotiation and LOSING....
You can give yourself some grace.
Show them what it means to mess up and apologize for your own behavior.
This will move mountains. I kid you not.
1. You set the example that parents do not have to be perfect (nor is it possible)
2. You show them how to apologize. (This should go without saying but "I'm sorry you feel that way" is not a real apology FYI)
3. You show them that life goes on and we get better and grow together. They get to practice forgiveness. They get to see they're not alone.
4. Bonus? You'll see them start apologizing to you. (It happened here and my jaw hit the floor)
It's not permission to yell about everything and have no self control. But when you ARE upset, sometimes it comes out. It's just part of being a person.
I put myself in time-out occasionally (and the 6yo might do it for me) to show that we all need a minute to calm down. It doesn't mean you're in trouble.
It's actually helpful to establish that point, because little minds don't understand that "go calm down in your room" is not synonymous with "go to your room because you're in trouble." Speaking from experience.
Let them choose a place where they can calm down. Have specific things in that location that are helpful to them - and let them choose what those things are. My kid has a specific stuffed animal he likes to hug. Books or those glitter jars are good too.
And I can't say enough about timers. Let them pick how long they want to calm down for, and then problem-solve together.
Establish ALL of this when they aren't upset (or heaven help you).
<SIDEBAR IDEA OVER>
My point being:
It's real easy to believe you need to learn all this new stuff on your own up front and then go spout it off to your kids.
OR (the thing I used to do) beat yourself up when you mess up - yell, blame, etc - and think you're a terrible parent.
Like a perfectionist would :)
But you don't have to do that.
You can just be you. With your kids. Easily as yourself.
NOT trying to be so perfect.
Want a step by step on how to do that?
1. Accept that you're going to have doubts.
When we start to have doubts about ourselves, our abilities as parents, our own worthiness, we immediately jump to "INADEQUATE" like we suck and are failures before we even begin.
"No true mother would question what she was doing at any given moment. Everyone else knows what they're doing, why don't I???"
Doubts are a really normal response to a challenge. Not an indication of incompetence. Mental struggle and uncertainty just mean you're on the path of something worth pursuing. You just haven't been there yet.
2. Remember you know how to practice and get better
You made it through your life so far. School. Jobs. Marriage. Kids. Changing careers. Moving to a new city. Losing weight.
All of those meant you had to figure out something the first time.
- How to get to class on time
- How algebra actually worked
- How to get around town
- How to eat differently
- How to hire a moving van
And you did it. You got better with practice. The same thing will happen here, even though I know it seems like parenting is a monster of a mountain to climb.
Take it in small steps. You don't have to master it all on day 1 (even though I know you like doing that because you're an overachiever).
I like to implement one new thing a week. Maybe 2 weeks. Sloooowwwww because I don't have that much time either and your kid is gonna be overwhelmed if you try and fix them overnite.
3. Process over results.
This applies to how you praise your kids - and SURPRISE - also yourself!
Look how far you've come. Look how much you've done so far. Notice the wins instead of the losses. Hone in on your own learning and focus on the process.
I know you want it fast, but chipping away at this is how to win. Plus, it's lifelong work, so settle in for the journey.