I’ve been coaching a lovely Dad who has been finding his 14 year old daughter very challenging recently with her mood swings, rude tone of voice and shoulder shrugging attitude and it got me thinking about the power of our emotions which can either create or break the connections of family harmony.

As a parent you, like me, probably find that you sometimes compete and take your child on, or perhaps you avoid the confrontation completely and deny the fact that your little girl or boy is growing up and wanting to become more independent and assertive. 

Whatever you do try this simple technique that I use on my CDs.Go and explore  my Parenting Made Easy resources  => https://sueatkinsparentingcoach.com/my-parenting/

Just relax breath deeply and slowly for 3 breathes and imagine you have a remote TV zapper control in your hand and press the “Pause” button on it. This gets you immediately into a more resourceful state of mind and then from here you can remember to ask yourself, “What do I really want to happen now……?”  And then ask yourself “Is what I’m about to do, or say, going to move me closer to, or further away from my teenager long term?”

This pause button and asking better questions shifts your attitude to a more open, positive and solution focused mindset and helps you be more flexible.

If you are a wise parent you will also use the situation to learn more about yourself as a parent – discovering what winds you up, what your triggers are for “losing it” and using these confrontations or times of transition to get clear about what you actually want to teach your kids. It helps you focus on the long term relationship you want to nurture with your kids and your part in the process too.

I know that I am definitely a work in progress, as I often compete head on reacting to the situation instead of pressing my pause button and stepping back and being in control of myself first.

I was coaching a client this morning and we talked about “Percy Parrot’s Perspective” which is an imaginary exotically coloured parrot who sits on your shoulder helping you to remember to stay detached sometimes from the situation that you find yourself in – he’s there to help you to step back and listen to the words you’re using, the way you’re using them, and to notice your body language and your breathing and to observe the situation from the view of a detached observer. He’s really helpful and he squawks in my ear “So what do you choose to do now?” Reminding me that I always have a choice in how I respond to my kids.

All our emotions are a call to take action. Your strong emotions are sending you messages that can really teach you something if you listen carefully to them.

Anger or being resentful, furious, livid or enraged is really telling you the message that your standards or values have been violated. But do your kids actually know your rules or values – have you clearly and calmly spelt them out (without nagging!!)

Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down your rules, values or principles that are most important to you – you may find the list is too long, too short or not clear in your own mind so by writing them down you get clarity and then you are able to pass them on to your kids in a way that clears up any misunderstanding and also gives you the opportunity to explain the reason why they are so important to you.

The solution to anger is to realise that you may have misunderstood or misinterpreted the situation and a really empowering question to write out and pop in your pocket or handbag  is:

What do I need to do or change to keep the relationship I want in the long run with my teenager?”

By changing your perception you change your emotional response to a situation which gets you back in control.

Look at your routines – if you keep getting angry and the same thing keeps on happening do something different.

Change your voice, your expectation, attitude or your behaviour.

It’s about realising that your strong emotions are offering you messages and a call to action, so step back and have a look at the underlying message and then take a new positive step in a different direction!

Ask yourself:

  • What do I most want to change?
  • What changes in my routines, attitude, expectation or behaviour do I need to make this week to move us all forward in a new direction?
  • What small step do I need to take this week that will move me forward in that direction?
  • What will be the benefits to me, my teenager and to the family as a whole if I commit to making those small changes?
  • What’s stopping me making those changes?
  • What obstacles could I come up against this week?
  • How can I get over , under through or round those hurdles this week and show myself my commitment to making some small changes that will make a big difference in our relationship long term?
  • How can I relax and enjoy family life more – what things can I do to laugh more and treat life with a lighter touch?