Free Training: How to Handle a Difficult Child - strategies you can implement TODAY!

Parenting with Purpose

Uncategorized Jul 15, 2021

I recently did a workshop and worked really hard to curate the content I wanted to teach and deliver inside this workshop called Better Mom Bootcamp.

 

I had a lot of fun doing it, it stretched me, because there’s so much parenting advice out there, and when moms come to me for coaching and wanting help with their children who are struggling, I hear the confusion in their voices, in their heads and in their hearts about how to best parent their children. And I don’t just mean small children, or school age children, I’m also talking about parenting adult children. We never take off our parenting hat once our children are grown, right?

 

As a Life Coach, I don’t tell my clients what to do, I don’t tell them how to parent. Instead, I help them clear up all the mental chatter and access their own answers – because I truly believe we know what to do deep inside. It can just get buried with all the information we’re taking in these days.

 

And so, even though I called this workshop the Better Mom Bootcamp, what I mean here is “even better” than you already are, accessing your intuition, being the best mom you can be.

 

So, personal growth in your parenting role.

 

Personal growth is a theme that I am passionate about, both personally and with my clients.

 

But the number one thing that we need to understand about personal growth is believing we do it from a place of empowerment versus a place of lacking. I know there are many reasons we don’t believe in our ‘good-enoughness’, but enough of that.

 

Instead, believing that we can grow and uplevel and learn skills in our parenting journey, simply because we want to be the best moms we can be, not because we’re lacking.

 

And so with that as a backdrop, I want to teach you how I approach parenting.

 

When clients come to me and tell me how hard parenting is, I have a lot of compassion for their role as a parent, but I don’t let my clients stay very long in the energy of feeling sorry for themselves about it.

 

And here’s what I mean by that:

 

We sign up to be parents. We ARE the adults.

 

Children are the ones who need the compassion and sympathy the most if their parents are complaining about how hard parenting is.

 

That might sound a little harsh. But I’m a truth-teller. And finding those kinds of people in your life, those who will help you take an honest look at yourself, those people are gifts.

 

I hope you have best friends and people you can turn to when your heart is hurting. And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

My role as a life coach is different than that of a best friend in the sense that, when we talk to our friends, we just want to feel validated.

 

But with coaching, it’s about seeing our blindspots, and getting a clearer picture on where we can do better. A good coach will do this for you, help you see your blindspots in parenting.

 

And complaining about our difficult children can become such a blindspot, such a stumbling block.

 

So, yes, I want to hear what difficulties are happening, and then - we get to work answering the ‘now what?’ question.

 

Because that’s what we all really want to know, right?

 

When parents are complaining in their heads and hearts about their kids, what it really means is that the parents are wishing somewhere in their heads and somewhere in their hearts that parenting was easier, that their children would make their lives easier. And I don’t think this is a useful place to resonate for very long as a parent.

 

There are difficult circumstances in parenting, there are difficult moments, and there are difficult emotions to manage, but I don’t think it should be any other way.

 

Do you?

 

And so when my clients are wanting coaching on how hard it is to be a parent, the first thing I help them understand is, of course it’s hard, now what?

 

Sometimes, moms will try to convince me of how difficult their particular children are, I can see their brains building a case, gathering all the evidence to support their belief.

 

But my job is to help parents separate the facts from the thinking, the truth from the fiction.

 

Not that parents are lying. No. It’s just that our perception of some of our children can be skewed in such a way, where all we observe is the difficult behavior, the acting out, the whiny voice, and if we have a reoccurring thought about how difficult a child is, we’re going to keep finding evidence for it.

 

So it’s really important that as a coach, I push back a little on the story and just get really clear about the facts.

 

Listen, here’s what I believe: none of us sign up to be moms because we wanted to make our lives easier. In fact, most of us have children, especially nowadays with the ability to regulate how many and when we have children, pretty much whenever we decide it’s most convenient.

 

We do it because we want to increase our capacity for fulfillment. And – we know that conceptually, Parenting and having children makes us stronger. And so we do hard things on purpose in order to grow. We can’t get stronger, increase our capacity for fulfillment, or grow if we don’t do hard things.

 

So if a mama comes to me and says, “my children are so difficult,” I say to them, Yes, tell me about it and also tell me where you’re making it difficult too for your child. . . You are being difficult for your children, too, yes?”

 

And they stop in their tracks, and they see it.

 

It’s called mirroring.

 

Mirroring is where we see and notice a behavior or an emotion in another person and we reflect it back to them, or vice versa, compounding the behavior or emotion in the process.

 

It happens on default, with default thinking and default emotions, which are usually negative in nature, like frustration, overwhelm, anger, confusion, and so on.

 

And so if there is a lot of mirroring going on in a parent/child dynamic, it’s important to notice that as the adult, it is your responsibility to put down the mirror. If you don’t like what you are seeing in your child’s behavior and emotions, notice how you might be doing the same things, and your child is learning and reflecting it back to you.

 

It doesn’t matter how old your children are. Mirroring happens with babies, to toddlers, to teens, to young adults, to in-laws, to adult children, mirroring behavior is everywhere. And when it comes to negative emotion, it makes life more difficult.

 

Being the adult is hard.

 

Of course it’s hard.

 

We can’t expect our children to become the people we want them to be if we aren’t being the moms we want to be. None of this happens on easy street.

 

It isn’t our children’s job to make our lives easy for us.

 

When we hear other moms complain about how difficult their children are, it’s not admirable, my friends. And yet, I understand why we do this.

 

Maybe we’re just trying to figure out how to get our children to behave. Because when they do, it will make our lives easier. We have some sense of comradery with other moms whose children are difficult, I guess, but it’s not satisfying. Maybe we learn a little trick or a little technic that works for the short term, but we haven’t had a change of mind inside ourselves, or a change of heart toward our children. We haven’t changed in the process.

 

Consider limiting how often or how much time you spend in your head or voicing aloud how difficult your children are. Consider that it isn’t serving your or your children.

 

It’s okay to build comradery in motherhood with other moms, I’m not saying pretend everything is fine, I’m just offering that if your main conversations with other moms center around complaining about a certain child, get some support from a professional and turn the dynamic around in your headspace and in your heartspace. Do this on purpose for the sake of your child’s well-being if for no other reason.

 

Being a mom is a refining process. We become more evolved and we grow into a different version of ourselves along the way.

 

And so what I recommend that you do very first is realize that being a mom means adopting a willingness to do hard things. And then, don’t complain about your children being hard. At the very least, don’t complain very often.

 

I’ve noticed for myself, especially when my children were young, I didn’t love the toddler years. I loved my children more than life itself, but toddlers were difficult for me. The constant wrestling with shoes, managing nap time and hunger, and suspending my agenda of accomplishing things in the day to meet the basic needs of little humans who needed me to help them, I just remember the frustration I felt on the daily.

 

Looking back, I see lots of lessons learned from my frustration. I see my part in it, an unwillingness to accept the difficulty and my brain’s tendency to make it about me more than about my children.

 

I don’t think women are bad or are stupid or wrong for having the frustration that comes with being a mom. I don’t think that the complaining rhetoric in the brain, when it comes up is so much of a problem, or that we are bad for having those kinds of thoughts as mothers,

 

I think it’s normal and it’s bound to come up.

 

But enjoying the motherhood journey is 80% head and heart management, and 20% technic and strategy.

 

I really believe this.

 

When my head and heart are aligned, are in the right place, grounded / curious / grateful / compassionate / those kinds of energies, then the technics and the strategies I use land better.

 

I can be using the same technics and strategies from the head and heart space of frustration / worry / poor me / sorry for myself / overwhelmed energy and it will be of little effect.

 

And so learning how to enjoy your kids more, and enjoying your motherhood journey will require a lot of mind management and a lot of emotion management.

 

You simply cannot tell yourself:

 

  • Why is my child being so difficult?
  • Why is this so hard?
  • I don’t have time for this
  • I’m so tired of this
  • They shouldn’t be acting this way
  • They know better

 

And then leave that kind of thinking un-answered.

 

I mean, you can. . . you can keep thinking those things.

 

But it only leads to the feelings of frustration / guilt / anger / overwhelm , all just very disempowering emotions.

 

So instead of trying to change your children from being children, to make it easier so then you can feel better, why not change your thinking – and this is the most important wisdom I can teach you.

 

Do not leave default thinking and disempowering questions unanswered. Do not end the thinking there. Instead, slow down, notice the questions your brain is offering up regularly, and then change the thinking, answer those questions on purpose in a way that generates more empowering emotions.

 

Here are some examples:

 

Common question: “why is my child doing this when they know better?”

 

Instead of stopping there, answer it with something like, “because my child has agency and is still practicing and learning. Of course she’s still learning.”

 

Another way to answer the brain here, let’s say your child keeps lying, and your default brain says, “she knows better!” the answer is “yes, and no. and so my job is to keep teaching, keep showing up for her and helping her through this.”

 

Now – I know! This requires more energy. It takes more thought. But can you see how just that answer, how it can generate a little more determination for yourself as a mom and little more compassion for your child? And how it takes you out of the victim energy?

 

Here’s another example: if your brain says to you often, “I’m so tired of this.”  Let’s not leave this one unanswered. I like to say things back to my brain, things like, “of course you’re tired, it’s okay to be tired, kiddo is probably tired too. What does everyone need right now?”

 

And I’ve really taken the time to train my brain to think this way. If I leave the “I’m so tired of this” sentence unanswered, I tend to stop problem solving or think in compassionate ways for everyone in the story. It’s very ME centered.

 

But as a parent, I want to be helping myself AND my children. So saying, “of course you are mama, kiddo probably is too, what do you REALLY need right now?”

 

Then I come up with more usable answers, and those answers vary, depending on lots of factors. Sometimes the kiddo will need some teaching, or maybe a hug, or maybe a time-out, or a reminder, but just the little pause gets me into more of an intentional parenting energy where I’m operating from the emotions of curiosity, compassion, resolve, determination, lots of more useful emotions versus victim mom energy.

 

We all have victim mom energy at times. I know I do. I know I did. But less and less. I just don’t love how that feels. And either do my children, honestly.

 

So, in Better Mom Bootcamp we went deep on where the blindspots are most likely to occur in our individual circumstances. I helped the workshop attendees assess themselves in their parenting from a place of curiosity.

 

And once they were able to see what the main emotions they are parenting from, then we roll up our sleeves and practice the kind of thinking that will get us to the emotions we want to operate from as mothers.

 

Victim mom energy feels like such a valid thing. It sounds important and we do it because parenting isn’t easy.

 

But here’s what I want to say to that.

 

Stop trying to make it easy.

 

Stop trying to make your children’s behavior mean something about you.

 

I kind of hate the saying, “if mom ain’t happy, no one’s happy.” Because it implies that everyone in the house needs to walk on egg shells in order for mom to feel good.

 

No.

 

I don’t want my children walking on eggshells.

 

I also don’t want them running rampant all over me and the house and not having respect for me or the house, but I know that as the mom, I’m responsible for my own happiness, and I’m responsible for teaching my children how to be responsible for themselves.

 

If you want to enjoy being a mom, let it be hard. Let it be hard to be a parent. What’s hard about being a mom? Managing your mind and your heart. That’s it. Because when you stop yelling at your kids, you’re left with you and you’re left with your thoughts and emotions, and you see where you need to do more teaching, you’re left with all of it.

 

And when you are left with all of it, you learn how to answer default thinking in more compassionate ways, you’re left with seeing all the default difficult emotions and you learn how to answer them on purpose and see them through, that is what you will become much better at, and then so will your children.

 

Because of mirroring.

 

And when you get good at all of that, you’ll get good at hard things, and then so will your children.

 

So, do you want your children to become good at hard things? Then you do the work, first. This is what will set you apart. This is what will make you proud of yourself as a mom. This is what will help you enjoy your children more. Everyone, getting good at hard things.

 

I don’t believe that moms are ever victims of difficult children. If I believe that, when you tell me how difficult your children are, then I’m not helping you do hard things.

 

I think all children deserve to have mothers who believe in themselves, who believe in their ability to parent and be the example and be the change they want to see in the world.

 

The moms who are willing to do the hard work of cleaning up their thinking and their heart space, they are the ones who get to experience how extraordinary they are, and they get to see their children grow up and become extraordinary – the only difference – a willingness.

 

A willingness to do the work in order to grow. That’s it. Are you willing to assess your parenting, take responsibility for the negative emotion in order to grow?

 

When you became a mom, did you know it was going to be hard?

 

I did. But I had no idea how hard.

 

And that’s okay.

 

My brain still complains about it.

 

I still feel sorry for myself sometimes.

 

My brain goes back and forth, back and forth, all the time.

 

And I notice it, I’m a watcher of it now, and I find it almost amusing sometimes. It’s all so fascinating.

 

I have days where I give myself a high five, and then I have other days where I see where I could have done better, and I recommit.

 

But here are the benefits of being willing to do the work of managing my headspace and my heartspace:

 

One, I will truly be able to say, at the end of the day, whenever that is, that I did the best I could, regardless of what my children choose in life. I will be able to say that I am stronger. My discipline will be stronger, I’ll be so good at directing my thinking on purpose away from victim energy. My emotions will be more safe, both for my children and myself. Instead of default frustration and overwhelm, there is more compassion, curiosity, gratitude, and pride.

 

Also, my momentum towards success will increase. My ability to trust myself and to have integrity and to honor motherhood and myself will increase, not because my children are walking on eggshells, or will have moved out by then, or made perfect choices, but all the benefits of having done the work of telling myself the truth, taking personal responsibility for my happiness, showing up for myself, feeling the pain of motherhood being difficult, and doing the work anyway.

 

This is why I am on a mission to help moms enjoy their children more. I want all of this for you. I don’t want motherhood to be easy for you. If you tell me it’s easy, then you might be missing out on all of this growth, you might be abdicating personal responsibility and missing the benefits that come from doing the work of growing and loving your children from a more grounded head and heart.

 

I would love for you to be able to do this process without relying on your children to be perfect, to behave perfectly, but instead, relying on yourself, then everything else in motherhood is an added bonus.

 

Listen, I love to connect with other moms and strategize. I love to learn parenting technics. But if I thought that was the main answer to this, to enjoying your children more, I’d be all in. It makes such a difference to learn from other moms. To learn from the top psychologists and children gurus. But it’s only 20% of it.

 

The majority of it is a willingness to do the personal work, the thought work and the feeling work. When people tell me they aren’t working on their thoughts or their feelings, I feel sad for them. I know they’re trying, and that’s good. But it starts with the way we think about our children, which will create the way we feel about them.

 

I’m serious.

I love it when moms say, “I’m working on my tendency to get frustrated with a certain child, I’m working on how to manage my frustration. It’s hard.” Or “I’m working on quitting yelling when I’m mad. I’m trying to figure out why I think my child should know better.” So good. Or “I’m growing my tolerance for respecting my children’s agency, and not guilting my children into obeying me, I want them to choose and make themselves proud with the way they choose,” I love that so much. Whatever it is that’s hard for you as a mom, the atmosphere that you’re creating in your home, in my opinion, it’s about your willingness to parent from a clean head and a clean heart.

 

If you say, my children are difficult, that’s like saying, “I think parenting should be easy.” I don’t like to exert energy to teach. I don’t like having to do the work. I don’t like to see what else I’m made of.” That’s fine. It’s just not as fun.

 

The important piece to remember in all of this is to generate the kind of thinking that will create the feelings you want to experience as a mom, more often.

 

I know for me, I need more curiosity. I need a willingness to explore where my children are coming from instead of thinking I know what they are thinking or feeling. I need to assume less, and be curious more.

 

I also need more determination, compassion, generosity, and motivation. Those are the emotions that I really try to create for myself as I think about being a mom.

 

The thinking that generates those emotions also have strategic byproducts of generating more peace, love and tenderness in my parenting.

 

I’m not saying you can’t feel the hard. But you need to pay attention to the thinking if you’re always resonating in how hard it is.

 

If you don’t feel motivated, or willing, or curious, or peaceful, it’s because you don’t have access to the thinking that will generate those kinds of emotions.

 

It’s not because you aren’t a good mom, or a good hearted person, or because you’re dumb or weak or selfish, it just means you’re not thinking thoughts that help you get to where you really want to be.

 

So if you’re listening and you’re like, “I really want to understand how this works with Danielle. I really want to follow along with her as she teaches this stuff. I want to be more compassionate with my kiddos,” or “I want to enjoy my kids more, I’m just going to borrow from her motivation and her determination.” That’s great. Join me. For sure.

 

And, I want to offer to you, work on your thoughts, the kind of thinking that will get you to feeling the way you want to feel to motivate you toward growth – practice the thinking and the emotions that accompany the thoughts.

 

I offer lots of suggestions here on the podcast, you can borrow my thinking. If you watch the videos inside the workshop or listen to coaching you can borrow some of the other mom’s ideas too, this is such powerful stuff. There’s power in generating this kind of energy together. So don’t hesitate to join us and spread the word to your friends, your sisters, anyone who could use a boost in their motivation with enjoying their parenting journey, and you want to practice these things together with them.

 

I love how we can use our minds to generate energy. Emotional energy. So as you are thinking about being the best mom you can be, ask yourself how you want to feel as a mom. I personally want to feel grounded, compassionate, trusting, curious, and generous as well as determined, and motivated.

 

Then, I have to practice the kind of thinking that will get me to those emotions. Some examples include:

 

  • My children have agency and I respect them as I want mine to be respected.
  • This is where I get to be the mom I want to be.
  • My job is to keep teaching values.
  • Of course it’s hard, but I was made exactly for this.
  • I am the mom for my children, no one else can do it like I can.
  • I am raising a son who can think for himself, of course he’s going to make mistakes.
  • She’s not doing this to hurt me.
  • They are on their own journey.

 

And, I have a lot more thoughts that I practice when the hard things come up, but those are a few examples.

 

And the better you get at practicing the kind of thinking you really want, the better you get at being the mom you really want to be.

 

Because here’s what I’ve discovered, and I want you to know; making myself proud is the best feeling I’ve ever experienced.

 

Ok. Go and be the best mom you can be my friends.

Close

Tools To Help You Parent Confidently

In this free mini course, I'll take you through the Emotion Coaching framework I've taught hundreds of moms and dads for cultivating more peace. Plus you'll discover how to shift the 'frustration habit' and parent from a place of trusting yourself more.