Scaring and yelling at children does not work. Fear is a control technic that does not belong in a family relationship. For example, a "Social Norm" of parenting is that yelling will help children listen to you. But positive parents know that yelling only scares a child. It doesn't build skills. Instead, they see the transformation in building a relationship with their child!
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The other day I talked with a high school teacher, who happens to be a dear friend. We often talk about how our worlds are so connected. She expressed that she can tell when her students have a strong connection and secure attachment with their parents versus those who struggle. We often talk about the outcomes of childhood trauma and how she works to show up in ways to hold children accountable without making them feel like crap about themselves. For example, she understands that yelling at the children in her classroom causes them to act out MORE, not LESS.
She sees the difference in kids that get attention from "bad" behavior and knows they will spiral lower to "get more attention." In contrast, the kids who strive to improve and tap into their positive energy and how fast that will skyrocket.
And she said, "It's like Monster's Inc." She shared that if more people stopped living in fear, they would learn the power of tapping into joy and its abundant energy.
With that seed planted and my focus there- I paid attention to that idea this week. I asked myself:
Where was I feeling resistance and operating in fear?
Where am I living in flow and alignment and working from unlimited energy?
Let's imagine for a moment. What are the feelings that energize you? I love to refer to a feelings chart to help me deepen and strengthen my emotional intelligence. For me, it's excitement, joy, and happiness. Those are the obvious moments. But, if I'm digging deeper and sitting with these thoughts more, I feel energized by courage, pride, and appreciation. And those feelings come just after a challenge.
Let's relate this to parenting. I want you to think about a moment where you feel energized. Let's go deeper. Let us go through these questions one at a time.
1. When do you feel energized by your children?
Let's dig even deeper-
2. When do you feel energized by your children in a challenging moment?
a. What are you doing?
b. How does your child feel?
Now, let's flip it.
1. Where do you feel burned out?
2. What sorts of feelings are those?
3. What are the thoughts you're thinking and the actions you're doing?
4. How are the relationships around you impacted?
For me, it's hostile, hurt, mad, rage, and helpless. These are the feelings that instantly ZAP the energy right from me. How about you? How about your children?
If you're asking yourself these questions, you're feeling the difference. You can already feel the difference between approaching a challenge with the feelings that energize you and zapping the energy from you!
Now that the lens is set- let's learn from Monsters Inc- because it's in alignment with this!
"The children aren't built like they used to be." - Henry J. Waternoose III
The Brain is wired for protection.
In the scene where the energy shortage is causing stress- you can hear the leader of Monsters Inc caught in the feelings of stress (flipped lid) and looking for ways to get scarier because the children aren't reacting the same way. So he's looking to hire SCARIER monsters. Learn more (here) about social norms and why it's hard to be outside them. So he's working with what he knows- instead of thinking from a different perspective.
He wants to get scarier. You might be about to see this inside your home. When something isn't working for you, when you're facing moments of stress do you reach for something scarier? If so, you're within the social norm- I get it. It's a common belief that if someone, i.e., your child, isn't listening, you need to get SCARIER or think of a bigger punishment. Which may look like taking something away, threatening, bribing, yelling- now check in with your feelings when you're doing this. Are you feeling energized? Or are you feeling drained?
Children aren't built as they used to because they've spent years building up protection. Their brains have rewired themselves for survival, building their defenses against scary things. So it just simply makes sense. When we operate from the flipped state, we build skills like scaring and yelling at children. We will live in a reactive environment.
The real solution is working through the challenge using a different perspective so we can tap into the feelings of being an accomplishment, confident, and trustworthy caregiver- not a scary, critical, irritated caregiver.
"Did you see her face when she saw me?" - Sulley
The entire movie is about Sulley and Boo forming a close relationship. He is taking care of her and learning that she is trusting him. One of the first interactions they have is Sulley trying to put her to sleep, and Boo is scared of the closet because of Randall, the scary monster. This is where he comforts her and says nothing will be coming to get her. This is the beginning of Sulley's awakening because he's comforting someone for something he does without coming clean about it.
So it's only natural that later in the movie, Sulley does his "job" and scares a fake child in a simulation, and Boo sees him and is terrified of him now. The entire movie Boo thought he was a caregiver and building trust with him- and now she has a different reality about him. He's one of them. Upon watching the replay, Sulley sees Boo's face, and it's a HUGE wake-up call to him.
"Did you see her face when she saw me?" is what he says to his BFF Mike. This wakes him up and sets him on a path to reconcile and change the entire system for himself and others.
Now, what is it like for you? Have you ever thought about your child's face when you scare them? If you were to video tap those outbursts, what would you see? WAIT...
Here is a time for self-compassion. Punishing ourselves at this moment is expected, but I invite you to give yourself a big hug and say, "you can only do what is practiced." You know, have the potential to be a joyous caregiver. Like Sulley, the awakening might hurt, but it is worth the pain to grow. So let's start learning new tools to start being the joyous caregiver.
"But at least we had some laughs, right?" - Mike Wazowski
SPOILER ALERT: Throughout the movie, there are subtle hints that laughter is more powerful than screams. It's not until the end that Mike connects the dots for Sulley. Upon reconnecting Boo back at her home safe and sound, they reflect on the entire situation, and it's cemented for Sulley. LAUGHTER beats SCREAMS!
From that moment, the Monsters Inc factory is turned into a comedy club that brings children joy instead of fear. I love this part because it's genuinely learning how to tap into the elevating feelings of joy, love, and connection- literally releasing operations from fear and tapping into the abundant nature of LOVE!
And that exact change is possible for you. You can start your positive parenting journey right now with The Understanding Us Series. If you're tired of struggling with temper tantrums, power struggles, and feeling disrespected, this 3-phase series will help you understand WHY it's so challenging to parent your strong-willed child.
You can also discover the journey to my program C.L.E.A.R and Kind parents.
The two best ways to learn are through play and making mistakes. During play, we tap into feelings of curiosity and innovation. Learning through mistakes is something we can do if we are not too scared to make them.
This is why when we learn how to see mistakes as opportunities to learn, not moments to be shamed and punished, we can learn how to support learning with a lens of growth! We can hold that space with the children in our care when we have that power.
ALL roads will lead back to mindset and how to use it for connection!