First of all, let’s talk about what’s happening with you when you feel the urge to scream “go to your room.” Chances are that in that moment, you’re feeling pretty annoyed (or even extremely pissed off). It’s perfectly OK to feel that way, Dr. Siggie reassures us. “But anger and frustration are not effective parenting tools.” she says. “They lead you to react impulsively and use tactics like shame and guilt.”
Now let’s talk about what happens to your kid when you tell them this. As you likely remember from your own childhood, they’re not going to use that time for self-reflection or thinking about what they could have done differently. “Instead, your child will spend their time alone feeling blamed…and mostly, feeling angry with you,” explains Dr. Siggie. Still, this doesn’t mean you should let crappy behavior go unnoticed. Dr. Siggie offers an alternative that gets rid of the shame factor, while encouraging introspection. Here’s what the psychologist suggests you say instead:
“Whoa, what just happened…not OK at all. We both need to think about it. So, we’re going to take a break from each other. Then when we come back together I will tell you what I thought about what happened and you tell me what you thought, and together we will decide what to do better next time.”
You’re still giving your child the time and space to think about what they did, but rather than blaming them (“let’s talk about what you did”), you’re shifting the tone away from blame (“let’s talk about what happened”). This creates more space for contemplation.
You’re also involving your child in problem solving, a skill that will serve them well into the teenage years and beyond. And that’s not all: “You’re modeling collaboration and working through conflict in an emotionally regulated, responsive way,” Dr. Siggie adds. Finally, you’re empowering your child to self-reflect on their own behavior… and hey, that’s no small feat.
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