The stories we tell ourselves matter. If we say “I’ve tried everything”, we tend to stop searching for new ways. We stop trying new strategies. We have convinced ourselves there is nothing left to try.
The same goes for when we say “nothing works”. When we believe that nothing works, we give up trying. What’s the point if it’s not going to work anyway?
“No matter what I do, my child doesn’t change.” Yep, that’s another one. Another reason to not seek out new ways, to not try different strategies.
But here’s the deal…those “I’ve tried everything”, “Nothing works”, and “No matter what I do, my child doesn’t change” are not realities. They are not truths.
It’s time to change those statements. Time to start to speak truth, start seeing things clearly.
Next time you hear yourself saying or thinking those, STOP. Reframe. Reword.
There is MORE I can try. There are new options, other possibilities. New strategies. Different tools.
I AM going to find something that works. It may not be this, but I will keep searching. I will keep trying because my child deserves that. My family deserves that. I deserve that.
My child IS getting better. Maybe not as fast as I would like. May not always be easy to see. And yes, there will be steps backwards. But my child is making progress and will continue to do so as long as I keep trying and keep holding onto hope.
Your story matters. Your words matter. Your belief matters. Your hope matters.
Okay so when people ask me for a parenting tip that really works this is the FIRST one I give!
There are three reasons why I share this one first...
1. Anyone can choose to do it!
2. You can start immediately!
3. It works every time!
Here's the thing...YOU are your child's best chance at healing and being as successful as possible! Getting the ugly stuff out of the way of your relationship is HUGE! So, my (not very difficult - on paper) tip is...Start Over Every Day or Every Hour or Every Minute!
Here are 5 steps you can choose to get there...
2. Look at the whole situation - your whole child (deficits, history, bigger picture, anxiety, etc).
3. Re-frame it for what it really is - (too much for my child, too many transitions, fear, anxiety, grief, a trigger, etc).
4. Forgive - your child, yourself, your friend or family member, etc.
5. Still no talking - no big heart to hearts, explanations of what you are doing, excuses or arguments.
6. Start over - start new whenever necessary (no, typically consequences don't even work anyway...this is about the healing of a child who, among other things, isn't great at doing relationships - punishing a deficit is pretty pointless).
One thing I know for sure...Starting Over is the MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do to help your child, much less you and your whole family! However, I also know that on paper it seems easy, but in real life there are times when it seems like the last thing you can or want to do. It is truly a CHOICE we have to make. The great thing is that it is a choice that makes all the difference!
Have you tried it on a consistent basis? Having trouble? Come on over to Facebook and let's talk about it...you CAN do this but lots of times it helps to talk it out! I look forward to hearing from you!
I am getting ready to travel a lot this month and I was thinking about the whole (boring, but necessary) procedure that happens before you fly and I was thinking how brilliant that information really is! Before takeoff, you buckle your seat belt and listen to the flight attendant review emergency procedures. You hear that if the oxygen masks drop, you should adjust your own before assisting your child. It's just like that on this long journey for us parents of children who struggle. We must absolutely care for ourselves before we can REALLY care for our children in the everyday moments of life!
Self-care, however, tends to be last on our list of to-dos and there never seems to be any remaining energy to tackle it. Most parents say that it is easier said than done. I agree! It is difficult to not to give endlessly to others - especially our children. There is always a worry that if you don't keep on top of things they will regress or all heck will break loose.
Parenting a hurt child is hard! Lots of times we question whether we can do the job - whether we are meant to be this child's parent. You can do the job; you have to claim what is yours, move it and spend time taking care of you too! I have to tell you I personally am so much more INTENTIONAL when I take time to do the things that take care of ME!
Also, self-care really models a sense of self-esteem for your children, spouse and other close relationships. It's about balancing your needs with the needs of your child and intentionally ensuring the connection stays in place even when you take care of you!
Here are some helpful ideas.
1) Exercise daily. I am not great at this, but when I do it I am a different person. Exercise is so essential in relieving everyday stress. Do it alone or include your child...it will be a benefit for both of you.
2) Get a Project. Sorting clothes at Goodwill or serving soup at a shelter. Sometimes it is hard to see progress on our journey; help someone else out to help you see your impact. It is empowering!
3) Take classes. Pay for a course and go. Fun, creative classes as well as those that equip you with new knowledge and techniques to apply in your everyday life. Being inspired is truly energizing.
4) Listen to soothing music. Whether it is by just turning it up loud in the car, dancing to it in the kitchen or just plugging in some headphones and listening to Mozart, music is brain organizing.
5) Talk to someone. When your child has special needs you tend to spend all your time thinking and planning to stay ahead. You need to talk to someone that gets it...someone who has walked your same path.
6) Trade time. Find another family who is walking this path and trade childcare with them. Agree on what you'd like it to look like and enjoy some peace. If you don't know another family, then groom a babysitter to do "it" the way your child needs "it" done. Educate them, pay them well, have their favorite snacks and keep your time away short - but get some time alone.
7) Fight to find the good. When we are able to find the good even when things are far from where we'd like them to be, we can continue to have HOPE. With hope we have the energy and stamina it takes to keep moving forward toward healing!
When you find the time to care for yourself, you will see your family’s spirits soar. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, we are about to take off!
Okay I know that this is hard stuff. I know there are lots of times you are not sure what to do next. I totally get it - been there!
The reality is that we have to do this differently to stop the lying. We can't just do it the way we did it before or the way everyone else does; our kids come from very hard places and it is all different! Stop hitting your head against a brick wall...if it is not working, it is time to try something different!
Okay, cause I know how hard it is to live with push back behaviors like lying I put together a bunch of tools and strategies to help you get your stress under control. Learn a new way. You can feel like a good parent again. You create some peace in your home. Seriously, it doesn't have to be SO hard!
My biggest selling class Solutions for Lying, Stealing and Other Push Back Behaviors is available to you to listen to whenever you are free! Go get it, put it on your phone and go for a walk so you can listen to it. Then put the new tools into play and watch as things begin to change for you and your family.
I just wanted you to know that there IS a choice. Take control and start doing it differently! Follow this link formore information.
Make things the way you want them to be!
Most friends and family don’t truly understand what’s going on inside as you raise a child who struggles. They don’t see inside your heart, mind, or home behind closed doors. You, your child, and your household often look entirely different to them than the reality of your life.
Feeling alone is the hardest part of raising our hurt kids. To be truly understood and supported would change the entire experience for the better. I thought I would put together a few things I think we all want our friends and family along with teachers and other professionals to understand. If it resonates, share them with and educate those around you.
5 Things That Parents of Hurt Kids Want the World To Know (and REALLY understand)
1. My child looks normal (and sometimes even really put-together) on the outside, but not on the inside. A child who has experienced early trauma looks like any other child physically. However, early trauma actually changes the brain. He is behind emotionally and neurologically.
2. My child probably seems like a "perfect" kid to you, but...there's a lot you don't see. Mental and emotional health struggles are tricky and not always obvious.
3. I can feel when you judge parenting decisions and it hurts me. To live with a child who struggles the way mine does is like always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is overwhelmingly stressful. I really need you to stand beside me rather than behind me.
4. I know that the way I parent is very different than the way you do. It's on purpose. Typical parenting techniques don't work for children who are hurt in the way mine are. Unless you have walked my path, please don't question me.
5. I feel SO alone, but it is hard for me to reach out to others. It would mean a lot to me if you would call me every once in a while, drop off a casserole or make plans for coffee.
As you’re raising your hurt child, remember that you’re not alone. People across the globe experience the same isolation. This is a very difficult job - parenting a hurt child. Let's talk about it, let's teach about it and let's reach out to each other. There's a lot of hope to be had when we stick together. Remember...you are NOT alone!
"I just don't want to be this child's Mom anymore." Have you ever said these words before or have you ever thought them? Today, I want to let you know you're not alone and that it is okay!
When you're the parent of a hurt child, the journey can be long and painful; it's hard to see progress, the connection doesn't seem to get any stronger, and always having to do it differently is EXHAUSTING. You are doing especially difficult work. You are literally trying to SAVE A LIFE.
So... as you look to continue forward I want you to consider this:
What is the definition of Mom when it comes to your child? It may not be what you first envisioned. It may not be what your other children need. It may not be how your friends do it, etc.. Being this child's mom may mean that they get good health care, that they never worry for food and that you have hope for them...just basic hope like that they can find happiness. This is the ultimate in meeting your child where they are at.
Eventually, we have to decide that it's okay to be the kind of mom that THEY can handle - don't step back too far, that will backfire for sure, but this is a process and our children can only go so fast. And they can only do so much.
Being the mom your kiddo needs you to be (even if it means no real hugs or some mistrust or you don't get anything back at all) is absolutely okay. Don't sell yourself short, what a gift you are giving your child when you can just be the mom they need. No pressure. No disappointment. That gift CAN be given by changing YOUR definition of a good Mom. And in fact it will feel freeing for you too.
You have done all the right things for a long time now so give yourself permission to tweak your definition of mom a bit. Then go find what fills you up and do that too. You'llll have more room, emotionally speaking, to take care of you. And ultimately, that's good for everybody!
Remember...you are NOT alone!
I am just SO moved by the huge number of moms that I talk to who share with me that they do not take care of themselves. You know the drill (I know the drill)...no sleep, unhealthy eating, not seeing the doctor as they should, no support group, not moving their bodies like they should, not reading, not seeing friends, and so on and so on.
Seriously, as moms we know all of the important and positive effects those kinds of choices can make on a person's life - I mean duh, that is why we make sure our children, husband, family and friends all are having those experiences. For example, many of us bend over backward to provide healthy meals in the midst of a chaotic life, we take our children to the doctor regularly and we make sure they got lots of exercise. Among other things, we always go the extra mile to make sure our children have social opportunities, help at school to make sure they have an opportunity to learn and knock on every door we can find, looking for assistance, when they struggle. The list of what mothers have done to take care of their children and the other important people in their lives is absolutely amazing. Moms are amazing!
Here's my question. WHY DON'T THEY TREAT themselves the same way? Why Not Take Care of Yourself?
I know that in most cases it is not for the fact that they don't know better...
Because the reality is that, I have never met a mom who was happy or proud of the fact that she doesn't take care of herself and, as a matter of fact, most moms are mad at themselves that they don't do it.
I know that in most cases it is not that there is someone literally stopping them from taking care of themselves...
The truth is most moms say that their husband or family or friends have been supportive of them taking time to take care of themselves and have offered to do child care, etc...
I know that it's not because everyone can't afford to take care of themselves...
I mean really, who can find a deal better than a mom? Cutting a few coffees a week to save up for a class or find small, inexpensive or even free options.
As to my question of WHY, I think it does come down to 2 things...Energy and Love.
My dear Momma friends, you must start saving a little bit of your ENERGY to show LOVE to YOU too!
I do know that this is a hard shift for so many of us. I am very familiar with living under a survival mentality. Life does get so chaotic and challenging, I agree, but I want to remind you that you are smart and strong, you are beautiful and gifted, your heart is life-giving and healing and to continue to be all of these things YOU have to be cared for too.
I hear you..."How do I even start?"
My answer to you is three part:
1. Start today
2. Give yourself permission to take 5 minutes for yourself. Then say to yourself, it is okay for me to take 5 minutes to _______! (paint your nails, clean a drawer, read a magazine...something you like, just for you)
3. Communicate BRAVELY with those around you about what you are doing and how they can help take care of you too.
One thing I know for sure...life is more fully lived with intention. You intentionally do your job, parent your children, even drive down the road; now it is now time to INTENTIONALLY TAKE CARE OF YOU!
As moms, we are on this journey together. Here's just another spot in which we will all be better if we hold each other up, inspire each other with our stories success (post on my Facebook page how you are taking care of you) and cheer one another through the rough spots (no matter how long they are).
We can do this and we will do it together!
I don't know that most parents really understand just how POWERFUL they are in the making or breaking of their child's self worth and life's successes or failures. The reality is the foundation of our confidence and ability to have really strong, satisfying relationships in life all begin VERY early on - in the hands of our parents. (Don't worry this isn't going to be an article about how we can blame our parents for all of our "stuff") However, if I could wave a magic wand and give moms and dads one crucial tool, it would be to understand the power they hold so that they would be VERY INTENTIONAL about each and every moment they parent their child!
It all begins in-utero as our brains are being wired. The choices our biological Mother makes (or doesn't/can't make) has impact on our experience of who we are and how valued we are. In infancy, we began to read cues from our parents and to integrate them into our beliefs about ourselves. Toddlerhood brings the first opportunities to experience the concept that we can make a positive impact on our world. Preschool years are when the building of a strong verbal relationship is begun between child and parent. And the school-age years are when, among other things, we develop our own personal style and strengths as we go out into the world, always knowing we have a soft place to land - our parents. It doesn't end there. Young adults still look to their parents for acceptance and understanding, which affects all other relationships (jobs, marriages, etc). And finally when we, the children, are parents ourselves, we look to our own parents again for input and acknowledgement. A powerful relationship!
In the midst of our automated, fast-paced, competitive world, it is SO easy to forget that we as parents play a role in our children's lives that can make the difference between struggle and flourish. And (as they say) with great power comes great responsibility.
Parents, be wary of becoming emotionally unplugged from your child. So many times we miss crucial moments when we are stuck in our own stuff. Make consistency your goal. Showing up for someone again and again no matter what is happening in life sends a strong message that the recipient is very valuable to you!
Communicate clearly. Don't underestimate the message sent by the look in your eyes or the tilt of your head or the sigh or silence. If misinterpreted, this kind of language creates doubt and shame. Stop what you are doing because this is your most important job...translates to YOU (my child) are VERY important to me and therefore the world.
Be sure to see your whole child. Parenting your child with all his gifts and challenges in mind instead of what everyone else is doing will create successful experiences for him - ultimately creating self-esteem and a deeply integrated understanding that he IS worthy of goodness in his life. When we believe we are worthy of goodness, we create goodness.
Self-esteem and the belief that you can make a positive impact on the world are the key elements to living a life that is flourishing! As parents, we create the foundation for a lifetime of continued building.
Let's build it strong and functional.
Let's maintain it through all the challenges.
Let's break free from doing it like everyone else is doing it.
Let's fight to stay plugged in no matter what.
Let's be INTENTIONAL in our parenting every step of the way.