During these late fall days, some parents in my practice have been expressing frustration with difficult parenting moments that keep repeating themselves. If you have been dealing with a sticky parenting situation that seems to pop up frequently, a strategy to try is make a plan or consciously set an intention regarding how you will respond when this situation arises. You can do this either at the beginning of each week or at the beginning of each day. Try to be as specific as possible about where, when, and how you will execute your plan. Consciously making a specific plan about how you will respond in difficult moments can help to shift the dynamics of the situation.
I’m going to tell my children that we have a new plan for when they get into an argument: everyone in the room will freeze and take 3 slow, deep breaths before we try to settle the disagreement.
Late afternoons have been getting more challenging. When it gets dark each afternoon we’re going to have a 10 minute dance party. I’ll set a timer on my phone for 4:45pm so I don’t forget.
My tween has been spending a lot of time alone lately. I’m going to schedule a time for us to take a walk or play cards together this week. I’ll put it on both of our calendars.
I’ve been having a lot of conflicts with my teenager. When we start a conversation, I’m going to pause for a moment, take a breath, and remind myself that I want to focus on listening and reflecting back what I’m hearing.
If you are parenting with a partner, consider discussing your plan and providing information about specific ways that your partner can support you as you execute the plan. If you set an intention and find it difficult to follow through, you can re-group and try again next time, or talk about your plans with a trusted friend and consider whether it makes sense to re-group and try a different strategy. Either way, remember to practice self-compassion: treat yourself the with care and kindness you would offer to a good friend who was struggling to manage a difficult parenting moment.