Notice how you interact with your kids, what you say to them, how you say it.
Does it come from a place of love, or does it come from a place of fear?
Dig deep and see.
Let’s say your 3-year-old draws with a marker all over the living room wall. What is your response?
Perhaps it’s something like, “Oh my, you sure are feeling creative today. Walls aren’t for coloring on though, so let’s find you some paper instead.”
Or maybe it’s something like, “What did you do?! You’re in timeout right now!”
Or maybe it’s a calm, “It’s not ok to color on the walls. Go to timeout. I will come talk to you when it’s over.”
The first of these responses is loving–from a place of compassion and connectedness–while the second and third come from places of fear.
Surprised about the third? We’ll get there in a minute.
What makes the second response–or rather, reaction–fear-based? Ask yourself what’s beneath it and find out. If you were in this situation how would you be feeling? Probably angry, exasperated, frustrated, or overwhelmed.
These are signs that fear is involved. We know this because we’re having feelings that don’t feel good. Look deeper then. What are you afraid of? For many moms it is the fear that they have no control over the situation, or even over their kids or their lives. (Even if you find you’re afraid of not being good enough, your child not developing as you want him to, you never having your life back, etc. it’s ultimately an issue of perceived lack of control or power.) What is it for you?
The third scenario is also rooted in fear. This fear is tricky because we commonly encounter it under the guise of love–we believe we’re acting out of love when we are not.
“I put him in timeout because I love him and he needs to learn that drawing on the walls isn’t ok.” Sounds reasonable–or at least socially acceptable–until we ask what you’re afraid of.
Turns out that you’re afraid he won’t learn what is and isn’t appropriate and so, since you love him, you put him in timeout to try to teach him. But fear is your real driver. Fear that he won’t learn any other way, fear that you can’t just explain to him and have it stick, fear that if you don’t do something you’re a bad mom or will fail to do what’s in his best interests.
Notice where you’re coming from in your interactions with your kids. Think of who you want to be as a parent. Think of who you want your child to grow into. These things can only be accomplished through love.
And notice how these interactions are representative of your other interactions with people and of your life in general. After all, how you do anything is how you do everything.