It starts with YOU as the parent. Yes, you have to be able to self-reflect and ask yourself what you are demonstrating to your child. You may not like this idea but it’s true. As a therapist who treats children, I hear parents complaining about their children’s behavior but are reluctant to share their faulty behaviors. As adults, we might be reenacting what we experienced but that’s not a reason to continue in an unhealthy cycle. As adults, we must take a closer look at our interaction, demeanor, and communication style with our children. You can’t be mad at your child for mirroring the behavior you’ve enacted. If you want something different you have to demonstrate it differently.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your communication style
- Are you yelling a lot?
- Do you curse at your children?
- Do you allow them to express themselves? Without shutting them down?
- Do you criticize them?
- Do you listen? Listen to what they're saying.
- Do you minimize their experiences (relationships, hardships of school, feelings, friendship conflicts, etc.,)
- Are you approachable?
- Are you often frustrated with your child?
- How do you handle stress?
- How do you manage your anger?
- How do you manage sadness?
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your upbringing
- What did you love that your parents emulated when you were growing up?
- Could you express yourself?
- What was your parents' tone when they spoke to you?
- Did your parents yell at you a lot?
- Did you feel safe talking to your parents without judgment?
- Did you feel criticized?
- Did you feel constant frustration from your parents?
- Were your parents approachable?
- Did you feel like your parents were always mad at you?