—how to avoid it
and how to open up the doors to allow for growth and change
Karen James, responding to a mom who was saying her child was "always" and "never" one way and another:
(Quoting the other mom):
- He has always been a bit impulsive and hyper
- he has never been able to sit at a table for long
- He has always had really BIG emotions
There's a problem with thinking in terms of "always" and "never." It's a way of convincing yourself (and others) your point of view is absolute and non-negotiable. If you are telling yourself that your son is always and never anything, you are effectively telling yourself (and aiming to convince others) that there is no other way and never has been. That is rarely true.
(Quoting the other mom again):
Take some time in the next little while to really see when your son *is* patient and calm instead of "impulsive" and "hyper." Then look back in time a little and notice what helped him feel that way.
Witness, with a full and open heart, when he *is* immersed in anything...not just sitting still at a table. Some people think better on the move. Both my son (Ethan) and my husband (Doug) are that way. In his new office, Doug just planned it so that he can be standing and moving around most of the time. His desks are adjustable height. He has stools instead of chairs. He has two desks. One for himself and one for his students. That way, his students (or visitors) have the option to stand, sit, move around, be still too. We think best when we are comfortable. Being comfortable doesn't look the same for everyone. Pay attention to when your son is comfortable, and support *that.* It may look very different from what you've imagined.
See him before he has "BIG" emotions. When he is more expressive in the way he communicates, don't corral those emotions into one neat category called "BIG." Look at each one. Again, think back in time a little ways to what might have led to such an expression. Notice not only the big negative emotions. Notice the big happy ones. Sometimes people who are capable of great, exuberant expressions of joy and happiness are also the people who feel sadness and frustration quite profoundly. My son is this way. Help your son navigate his emotions.
The trouble is that I put my relationship on the line for so long with my demanding ways that now he doesn’t necessarily trust me/might still have anger towards me for not always being trustworthy. So I feel at a loss about what to do?
(and back to Karen:)
Think of new ways of describing your son to yourself and others. The words "impulsive" and "hyper" bring to mind the idea of a person who is problematic, erratic, out of control, irritating, thoughtless, etc. That picture you paint for yourself will get in the way of seeing the whole, real person right in front of you.
Be precise in the words you use to describe those you love, aim to support and care for. Be as generous as you can too. The clearer you see your child, the better you can respond to their needs. The better you learn to listen to them, see them, and be of useful service to them, the more they will have confidence in your ability to have their best interest in mind.
It'll take time if you have some relationship repairing to do. Be as consistent as you can be. In time the trust will deepen and become more solid. Your son will grow to trust you more. You will grow to trust your son more. You will grow to trust yourself more. Then be extra careful not to erode that trust. But when you do, be honest, apologize, and do your very best to mindfully make amends.
Being reliable in your relationship is more important than trying to figure out how to do things perfectly. Which reminds me of today's beautiful "Just Add Light and Stir:"
http://justaddlightandstir.blogspot.com/2015/07/solid-and-reliable.html [editor's note: See post below]
Subscribe to that, if you haven't already.
July 2015 original, if it's still there, and more by Karen James
Solid and Reliable|
photo by Sandra Dodd
|Integrity is a strong wholeness. The fabric of the being of a thing can't be broken. A bucket with one hole in it is lacking integrity. It's not a good bucket. A frayed rope lacks integrity. No matter how long or strong the rest of the rope is, that frayed part keeps it from being a good rope.
. . . .
It's exactly why every person who hopes to have a positive influence on any other person needs to figure out how to find and maintain as much integrity as possible.|
Being Mindful of Words
Problems with Labeling Children
Clarity of thought