Beliefs that Empower Parents
More important than the beliefs you have about child rearing are the thoughts you have about yourself. If you have difficulty using child-rearing skills or if they don’t seem to be working, your beliefs about yourself may be getting in the way. To discover thoughts that can cause glitches in taking action ask yourself:
Directions: Mark any of the following thoughts that come to you when your children misbehave. Then, mark any of the beliefs you would like to have when your children upset you.
Change Thoughts That Hurt into
Beliefs That Help Parenting Skills
I am bad, inadequate or not good enough.
I am still a good parent when my child misbehaves.
I am weak, unimportant, or not in control.
I can take action to respond to my child’s misbehavior.
I may be abandoned if I upset my child.
I can take care of myself while my child is upset.
I have to keep others happy or I’m a failure.
I am still a good parent when my child is upset with me.
Negative beliefs that interfere with parenting skills are not actually caused by your child but were instilled from early life experiences that cause two opposite reactions:
CHANGING NEGATIVE BELIEFS
The first step to changing negative beliefs is to identify positive thoughts you want to have about yourself when your children misbehave. When your children are not causing difficulty, positive beliefs may seem completely true. It will be harder to have this belief when children disobey. To begin to change thinking patterns that rob you of your confidence, start keeping a journal of upsetting incidents.
You don’t have to wait to acquire positive beliefs about yourself to act powerfully, but you may have to act powerfully to begin to realize that these beliefs are valid. The latter “wakes up” an inner confidence that makes discipline effective and reserves time for enjoying children. The power that is discovered is “power from within” or empowerment of personal abilities, flexibility, and self-control. It is not “power over,” which elicits hidden resentments and domination. Truly powerful parents can:
“Power with” is the power of strong equals to suggest and to listen. A powerful spouse takes time to work through any disagreements over child rearing without giving in or insisting on her way, knowing that a higher truth can be reached by thoroughly understanding the other person’s position. She encourages her partners to listen by listening first! When she sees her spouse’s taking unconstructive action, she insists on taking time to discuss their differences, focusing first on understanding his efforts before questioning them. A powerful spouse can handle two particularly difficult challenges.
Armed with the above beliefs that you are a good, powerful, loveable person and information about all the ways you can require cooperation, encourage obedience, and reduce anger, you will succeed in being the parent you have always wanted to be.
Reference: See EMDR: The Breakthrough Therapy by Francine Shapiro (Basic Books, 1997) for further ideas on how thoughts affect emotions.