How to Quit Blaming Your Kids + Take Responsibility
How many times have you said something like,
“He drives me crazy.”
“She makes me so frustrated!”
“I have to yell or they won't listen.”
A lot, right?
You're not alone. But that way of talking (and thinking) keeps you from getting the results you want.
Because when you blame your kids for things that aren't within their control, you aren't taking responsibility for yourself, and you're actually giving away your personal power.
It may not always seem like it, but you have a choice about how you feel in any situation. No one can make you feel anything. In fact, it's your own thoughts that create your experiences. So, when your child triggers you emotionally, you can choose to let it bother you and take his behavior personally, or you can see the situation more objectively and let go of your need to be ‘right.'
When I realized and accepted that I was 100% responsible for my choices, it actually made parenting a whole lot easier. Trying to control my kids and putting the responsibility for my feelings and behavior on their shoulders was useless, and it left me feeling exhausted and resentful. Focusing on myself allowed me to feel more in control — regardless of what my kids did.
The first time I remember consciously choosing this approach was when Marissa was three. She refused to get out of the bath even though I had asked her several times. I felt a surge of frustration bubbling up in my chest. In the past, my usual response was to raise my voice at her or just pick her up out of the bath against her will. Instead, even though I felt angry inside, I focused on speaking with a calm voice.
Like a preschool teacher who lowers her voice when she wants the class to quiet down, I spoke in a low monotone and repeated my request. I also added a logical consequence: “Either you get out of the bath on your own, or I'm going to pick you up and take you out.”
She chose to stay in the tub (her responsibility) and I took her out (mine).
By choosing to respond calmly, I regained my sense of control. The best part was that there was nothing to blame Marissa for – she simply made her choice – and I made mine.
I'm sure some sort of meltdown ensued as a result of me extracting her from the bath. But how she responded to my limit was secondary to how I felt following through. Besides, I'm not responsible for her feelings any more than she's responsible for mine.
In the comments below, tell us about a time when you consciously chose your response to a situation, and how it made you feel.
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