I have an issue with my daughter where right when it’s time to go somewhere, she will say she doesn’t want to go. Like today we all agreed to go to the zoo and then it was time to go and she refused to get ready.
Or she will commit to a class and I’ll pay for it and she will quit after a few classes…I get really angry about this. She has gone to classes and enjoyed them for awhile but I never know when she will be all done. I find it hard to just say ok- we don’t have to do preschool anymore or ballet or whatever and waste money.
I wanted to discuss it during the listening time tonight but I ended up just talking around it and not really getting to the heart of it.
I think it has something to do with feeling trapped by her needs and wants as a baby and has extended into now. Or maybe some resentment over not getting much choice when I was a child and all the choice she gets from me…I get angry when I feel like I can’t live because of her whims.
Other parenting classes would say this is a power struggle or she’s doing it for a big reaction- what’s the hand in hand perspective? Should I just hold a limit and stick with it?
Also how can I really get to the bottom of this during listening time? I wanted to scream all the things I didn’t say today but I was too embarrassed and couldn’t get into it as the feelings have already passed. Should I ask my lp to act like my daughter to role play? It’s not easy to expose the terrible things I think sometimes. I feel like a horrible person actually saying those out loud
You are such an awesome Mama! You are working so hard and thinking so well! And really wanting to figure this out. Yeah you!
It’s great you are going to take this to Listening Time. I think we want to be able to think well about when we set a limit and when we don’t. There is great value in keeping one’s commitments and there is also great value in being able to say ‘no’ and end a commitment. I’m sure you know plenty of adults who stay at jobs too long, relationships too long, etc. ‘trying to make it work’. The bottom line is that WE want to be able to think well and we want our kiddos to be able to think well.
Thus, I think that whether or not they actual keep their agreement is less important than the feelings that might be driving their reluctance or their desire to quit. I have an anxious kiddo and when he was young, I thought it was my job to ‘honor’ his reluctance. I had to learn that it can be quite valuable to SET A LIMIT or EXPECTATION and LISTEN TO FEELINGS. By the way, I encourage you to listen to the replay of the call today. At the end we had a great conversation about the way that Setting Limits and listening to feelings of disappointment or anxiety actually creates new neural pathways in our kiddo’s brain. Their brain/nervous system experiences moving through the disappointment, releasing it in tears, tantrums, laughter, etc. and this creates the neural pathway in the brain that says, “I can feel disappointed and I’m not going to die”. Good stuff!
So first YOU – how to get underneath what’s happening in the present and get to the feelings. While we can talk about what ever we want during Listening Partnerships, I think the real power in an LP is to get to the feelings, memories and old hurts UNDERNEATH the tough time that we had today or last night. Brain science tells us that when we get angry, frustrated, feel powerless, etc. that OLD HURTS and old feelings of powerlessness from the past are being RESTIMULATED. Although you might start out talking about the present, the faster you can get to the PAST, the easier it will be to get to what’s underneath the present feelings, and the easier it will be to CRY, LAUGH, TREMBLE, SWEAT, YAWN. Those are all physical signs that we are actually releasing the old hurts and we are healing. When we release and heal the OLD hurts, we don’t get RESTIMULATED so easily. You’ll be able to think better about this situation.
Here is a list I’ve compiled on how to help ourselves get to FEELINGS.
1) Put yourself in a private space where you cannot be heard and you can move around. Sometimes both are not possible. I often get LT in my car. But I have gotten up on all 4s in my front seat in order to try to release my back and move a bit.
2) Ask your partner for what you need, i.e. -please talk less or please act like my child and whine, etc.
3) SKIP THE DETAILS, SKIP THE DETAILS, SKIP THE DETAILS – your partner doesn’t need to know. Talking ‘about’ a situation often helps us avoid the feelings.
4) Make sounds instead of talking. The limbic part of your brain, where the emotions and memories are stored does not have access to language. If you are talking, talking, talking you are still in your cortex and have not dropped into your limbic brain. Just making sounds can help you access your limbic brain and the feelings that reside there.
5) Move your body, especially SHAKE – for the same reason as above
6) Follow your stream of consciousness thinking from your limbic brain. Don’t try to make sense of what’s coming up and out (see ‘skip the details’ above) I tend to think ‘in pictures’ so I just follow the pictures.
7) Ask YOURself questions like, “what’s underneath this?” “What does this remind me of from childhood?” “When did I feel powerless as a child?” Keep digging and mining the past so you can have a good hard cry or laugh about it.
8) Avoid glossing over the past. Was it really fine? Avoid explaining, justifying or apologizing for yourself or someone else. Your partner is holding the thought that you are good and everyone you are taking about did the best they could at the time. You don’t have to flip back and forth having your feelings, then apologizing for your feelings.
9) Keep your listening time as sacred as possible – no ‘chit chat’ before/after you do your exchange. You can certainly chit chat and socialize at other times, but socializing during LT tends to erode the safety.
You might explore what was it like taking classes when you were small. Were you ever allowed to quit something? Did you have to stay in a class, job, school, relationship even though you hated it? There are also questions you can ask yourself about the present that might lead you to the past. 2 of my favorites are: What’s the fear? ie, my child will grow up to be…. OR when my child quits, other people will think ……. That leads me to my 2nd question: What does this mean about ME? The 2nd question in particular can lead to our old feelings of powerlessness.
Working on general POWERLESSNESS when we were small can be very powerful! You can skip over all the details about your daughter and go right to: What made me feel small and powerless? When did I feel small, not seen, not enough and powerless. Really good stuff!!
Here’s the thing about LPs – it is not meant to be an analytical discussion or even analytical monologue. The more feelings we can clear out of our emotional backpack, the more access we have to our creativity, problem solving and natural intelligence. We may not come to any decision during our LP. In fact, Patty often says, ‘you don’t have to figure anything out this red not minute‘. The aha or light bulb moment may come later. Or you may never get a light bulb moment. Your daughter may shift because suddenly, YOU are more relaxed around the subject of commitments. I’ve experience that with my son over and over again.
Here are 2 great Listening Partnerships stories about a Mom losing patience with her daughter’s anxiety and one about keeping commitments. Just what you are asking about…
Now, as for your daughter and those darn commitments… Because you’ve gotten listening time and you are super relaxed around whether she actually goes to the class that day, you can hold the Limit/expectation and let her tantrum, cry, beg, threaten,… as you simply LISTEN with great love and reassurance that ‘yes, she can do this’. BUT in order for her limbic system to feel safe enough to really work on and release her anxiety, you have to not care whether she goes or not. The point of BRINGING the expectation is so she can work on feelings, NOT to make her go to the class or event.
Here are some success stories.
Laura, I know I’ve given you a lot. As Patty says, you don’t have to decide anything this red hot minute. and you definitely do NOT have to be consistent. We bring a limit and listen when we know that we will have the time, space and capacity to listen. You don’t have to worry if you insist one time and then let her stay home the next time, that you are sending the wrong message. The commitment thing is most likely a PRETEXT anyway – an opportunity to work on fear. You can trust that the next time you say ‘yes, you have to go. you can do it’ that she’ll work on another chunk. It might only take one meltdown. It might take a few, but together, you two will figure this out!
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
Follow me on facebook: Parenting by Connection with Kathy
“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi
I have your listening time guidelines and those are very good. I have only done two so far- the first was more emotional and the second I wanted to discuss this issue if my daughter changing her mind and I couldn’t really get to any tears or any past for me.
My daughter is not anxious about the classes- she used to be and I was so anxious when she started preschool at 3.5 but she just ran off and didn’t look back. Then after six months she started complaining she didn’t want to anymore. I had been asking f she wanted to go- kind of more to gauge if she did and would complain but maybe have the impression she had a choice. Then she would say no and I would feel like why not?!? You love going!!!
And that trend has continued- she did ballet for about six months and then it was boring. I do understand that but I also feel so annoyed because sometimes her sister will copy. And some show tickets I have bought I will ask do you want to go and then the time comes she says no. And her sister will copy and now that’s $100 down the drain.
Other times are more like just to be contrary- to do the opposite of what everyone else wants. I have theee kids and feel very uncomfortable if she is dictating everything we are doing because she has more explosive feelings and we are all tippy toeing around…
Anyway this is something I have gotten so crazy about and maybe I just didn’t feel safe enough yet to access those feelings during listening time. I have thought of a few times from the past of being forced to do something though so I will try to bring those up tonight
Thank you for the articles – will read today 🙂
Also I do get that doing a class for a few weeks or a few months is pretty good- but I feel like it’s the newness wears off and then she is done. For me that’s around the time I’m getting used to the schedule of doing it and making some parent friends. So I feel thwarted…but maybe I’m getting too into the getting ready and rushing the schedule and breaking connection. Right now we have nothing on the schedule at all and that has been since this spring. She doesn’t have a class or school or anything except the day structure I have tried to stick with…mostly this is because I hate fighting her when it’s time to get ready, go out, decide on an activity. I do think I need to hold a limit on some things though- I did yesterday very gently even though she screamed and took off all of her clothes at the time of going. We did go…
Well done, Laura!
Before I got to the end of your reply, I was thinking, “just set a limit and see what happens”! And you did it! As long as you are willing to listen to her, and you can be relaxed, connected and calm, then YOU are the captain of the ship and YOU get to set the limits.
It’s most likely going to take more than one time of LISTEN – LIMIT – LISTEN before you see if you are on a good tack. You can always go back to letting her decide if she goes or not. You might as well try it this way for awhile.
And keep working on this in your Listening Time. A Limit is a ‘no’. It’s tough to say ‘no’ to our kids. For some of us, it’s tough to say ‘no’ to anyone. So what was it like when someone said ‘no’ to you? How do you feel when someone tells you ‘no’? How do you feel about being disappointed? Let down?
You will figure this out, good mama! I think it’s awesome that you set a limit and Listened. Keep us posted on how it’s going!
peace & smiles,
Yes- I see now that despite feeling like I was setting limits I wasn’t. Already today she’s had multiple upsets with not grabbing toys, not getting more special time, not going to the restaurant she wants to go to… I always get so mad and start forcing right away! I never noticed I could be gentle and calm and just say ‘we are going.Time to get ready.’
I’m always locked into these negotiations begging and pleading and ending up infuriated that I am bending over backwards for someone not entirely reasonable!
Beyond that I absolutely now remember being forced to attend many events and school with so much anxiety. I did not have a choice.
I’m still figuring out the school thing because actually I do feel like school is kind of a waste of time and plan to homeschool but would like her to try a one or two day on site program. So I’ll just have to figure out how long is ‘enough’ before quitting.
In the past I’ve tried to enforce going until the session I paid for is done. Even if I enroll her sister in a class she will grumble and groan about going and fight tooth and nail but I can see I just have to hold the limit without anger now. It doesn’t mean she’s a selfish terrible person (which is how I fear she is and how I was mad to feel when I was upset or acting selfish and misunderstood).
Sometimes it’s easier to figure this out via email. And I do notice a lot of your advice is the same over and over you get credit for keeping at it! Sometimes you just can’t see it in your own situation even though it’s the same tools for everything. Thank you 🙂