Kids Trigger Feelings of Hurt and Anger

Why can kids trigger their parents so intensely? What is it about our darling offspring that brings out the ogre in us? Much as we’d love to shake our heads and say “I never do that”, I’ve listened to too many parents to believe it. We all act like someone we don’t want to be from time-to-time with our kids. More than any relationship, our kids trigger us. Is it just karma or the curse of our mothers who said to us “I hope you have a child just like you”? Neither one.

Our kids are specially designed to trigger our own unresolved childhood wounds and fears. The lost dreams, the forgotten hurts, and the beliefs swallowed whole without introspection or digestion are all brought to the forefront of our awareness by our children. Some of those things hurt. They are all hard to feel. That’s why they are unresolved. They were too big to feel and too big to deal with or handle when we were children. So we pushed them down and under and resolved not to look at them. We are still afraid that they will overwhelm us so when our kids trigger them, we will fight with our kids (most often using the techniques our parents used that we hated so much as kids) in order not to be overwhelmed by our triggers.

Parent coaching can help. One of the tools I use called Parts Work in the Style of Inner Empathy allows you to hold compassion for yourself and to talk to the different parts of you as though you are having a conversation with someone else. The someone else is a part of you but instead of trying to figure out, say for instance, your anger by thinking about it and analyzing it you listen to the angry part of you. You ask this part how it is feeling, whether it’s protecting you from something, and what it needs? You ask as your compassionate presence that cares.

Caring compassionate presence is one of the only things that allows effective change to take place. Withdrawing love, threatening and taking away privileges, and bribing don’t allow room for real change. They don’t. They are never effective to teach the lesson we’re trying to teach. What they do teach is that love is conditional and that force is a good thing to use when you really want to get results. We’ve all had enough of that.

So how do you get out of being an ogre to your own children? You probably don’t escape it totally. But you can become more aware. And you can cultivate compassionate presence for yourself and your children. From there, real healing and change happen.

5 Steps to Becoming a Healthier You and a Better Parent

~ Welcome Leslie Mason, parentcoaching.org’s first guest blogger. I like Leslie’s down-to-earth approach to making small changes that can make a big difference. I hope you’ll enjoy this post about some simple steps to create more health and balance in your life and family as much as I did. I particularly like step 5. As a parent coach I see over and over again the value of having (and being!) a safe and trusted confidant for parents. It makes such a difference.

Between the soccer practice and karate class, the piano lessons and dance rehearsal, the meals to make and the laundry to do, parents barely have a spare second to breathe, let alone work on self-development. But think about the areas of your life that you want to improve. It can be daunting to tackle all of these at once. However, there are a few steps you can take to improve your own health and become a better parent all at once.

1. Make Time for Exercise

As a busy parent, exercising is probably one of the last things on your mind. But you need to make it a priority if you want to have a healthier body. Luckily, exercise doesn’t have to be painful and tedious. Playing with your children is a great way to get and stay active. Find out what activities they love doing and would be willing to include you in (the willingness is an important part). This is easier with young children since they are particularly active.

Even if you don’t exercise with your children, hop on the treadmill for just a mile a day. Physical exertion is a great way to relieve stress or reenergize. Showing your children that you care about your health will help them to know that you want to be around for a long time and be involved in their lives. It will also set the example for your children to lead healthy, active lives as well.

2. Eat Healthy

This seems like a no-brainer. If you want to have a healthier body, you need to be more careful about what you put into it. If you fill your body with trash, you are bound to feel like trash most of the time. But if you eat healthy, natural foods, your body will definitely notice and thank you for the difference. You will have more energy, feel less stressed, and have better long-term health.

To feel better about the way you are raising your children, give them the best nutrition you can find. Love your children by feeding them wholesome food rather than by giving them sugar and sweets. Don’t overwhelm yourself by changing all of your eating habits at once. You can take your time and gradually incorporate whole grains and vegetables while you decrease your sugar and highly-processed foods consumption.

3. Pamper Your Body

Your body goes through a lot of extra stress when you become a parent. Not only do moms have to go through the entire pregnancy process, dads also have to adjust to crazy sleep schedules and trying to keep up with everything that their children are doing. With all of this pressure, your body could definitely use a good pampering every now and then.

Treat yourself to some basic and inexpensive luxuries. Get a facial, have your nails done, or take turns massaging your spouse. If your body is having a particularly difficult time, consider visiting a chiropractor to relieve some of the tension in your back and neck. Most health insurance policies will cover an occasional trip for a back realignment. If you want to be able to give your full time and attention to your children, you need your body to be in the best condition possible.

4. Get Enough Rest

It’s amazing what a full eight hours of sleep can do for you. Most of us, whether we have children or not, can barely manage to get this much rest each night. While it won’t necessarily kill you to be a little sleep deprived, it does have a negative effect on your body. Even getting one solid night of sleep can boost your mood, lower your stress level, and increase your energy.

Dealing with children can be a trial. Ornery parents and moody teenagers are usually not a good mix. If you really want to have a better relationship with your kids, work on being in a better mood and having more patience just by getting enough rest at night. If you aren’t sleeping well at night, try to find time during the day to nap and recharge.

5. Find a Confidant

Your life is going to be full of rough patches and hard times. To ease your mind, find a parent coach or good friend that you trust and confide in them. Voicing your fears and worries is a great way to cope with stress, relieve tension, and gain perspective. Kids recharge through play while parents recharge through speaking truthfully and being heard. Some of the benefits of getting support include less worry and guilt for you and less anxiety and guilt for your child. Plus you’ll be a more effective parent. If you vent to your kids instead, you’ll not only set a poor example of stress management, but may also cause them unnecessary anxiety in their own lives.

If you can find ways to improve your body, mind, and soul, you will surely find that your relationship with your children improves as well. To take care of another person you must first make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and making time to treat herself with special visits to a chiropractor in Scarborough.