Don’t Take it Personally: 4 Questions to Coach Yourself
Are you irritated by your kids' disobedience or disrespect? Are you taking it personally when they don't do what they've been asked? If so, you are definitely not alone! There are 4 questions you can ask to coach yourself through the frustration – and learn not to take things so personally! In this case, the order is important:
- What are the messages I'm telling myself?
- How do they make me feel?
- How am I acting in response?
- WHAT ELSE could ALSO be true?
Here's an example. If you ask your kid to fold the laundry, and they respond, “I'll do it later,” how do you tend to respond? What's the message you tell yourself? Maybe it's “They're irresponsible,” or “They'll never do it,” or “Yeah, right!” You begin to feel like everything is on your shoulders. Now, you feel compelled to nag and remind them, or they'll never get it done. Sound familiar?
So, now ask yourself, what else is ALSO true about this situation? For example, it might also be true that they intend to do it, but since they have ADHD, they might forget. Maybe if you can help them get clear on the time frame, it will make it easier for them to get it done. Instead of nagging, is it possible they might like a reminder?
With these new possibilities, your approach can actually shift. Instead of a snide comment in response to, “I'll do it later,” you can say something like, “That's great, kiddo. Thank you. When will you have it done?” If they answer with a specific time, acknowledge them (“Super! Thanks, I really appreciate that.”) Show gratitude, not surprise, for their response.
If not (“I don't know, Mom, just later!”), then you can say, “Well, I'd really like it done by X time – does that sound reasonable?” This gives them some control over the situation – timing is a great way to do that. Keep calm when conversing until you get a commitment from them with a specific time frame and possibly even a clear, logical consequence if it's not done. For example, “If you have it done by 5, I'll take you to that store you wanted to go to; if not, I'm not going to be able to do that today – got it?”
Either way, remember to ask something to show that you're on their team and you want to help, like saying, “Is there anything you'd like me to do to help you? Would you like a reminder?”
These questions turn the attention away from feeling “slighted” or “disrespected” and turn the attention back over to your child, who needs to learn strategies for remembering to get things done. They may resist your attempts at first, but if you coach yourself, stay matter-of-fact, and keep your focus on positive communication with them instead of on you (“They are being disrespectful to me, how dare they!”), you'll start to see results in very short order.