Koemba Blog

‘Don’t talk so loud.’

It’s an interesting thing. Our brains are geared to hear action words.

So the ‘don’t’ isn’t heard.

The ‘talk loud’ is – and most probably will be acted out.

It’s much more helpful to give your child an instruction of what you DO want.

Rather than  ‘Don’t run’ say ‘Walk.’

Rather than ‘Don’t stand in front of the TV,’ tell   your child  what he can do. Ideally give a choice. (‘Come and sit with me and watch TV or go play over there.’)

This is also important to remember at times like a visit to the dentist.

Don’t cry,’ might well cause floodgates.

Rather refocus your child’s  attention,

‘Think about your breathing. In –out – in,’

or ‘Think of a happy place you’d like to be right now.’

These are likely to be a better support to your child, especially if your own body language, eye contact and tone of voice are calm.

Watch your language. Catch your negatives and rephrase them as positives.

Make a mental note of the difference in your child’s response.

I’d love to hear your examples and  feedback.

Parent Contradicts

What effect does it have on children when they receive conflicting messages?

Anita Renfroe’s ‘Mum Song‘ captures our ludicrousness with her opposing instructions: the child must chew her food slowly and  hurry.

It makes us smile as parents.

But inconsistencies are frustrating and confusing to children and sometimes damaging to their self-esteem.

And often the incongruity isn’t so blatantly obvious.

‘I love you,’ says the Parent without making eye contact or any other warm connection.

‘You know I love you.’ –‘Don’t bother me.’

‘Do what you’re told.’ –‘Can’t you think for yourself.’

Are your children getting mixed messages from you? (Not only with your words – but what about your body language or way of being with them?)

What impact might this be having on your children?

What is the message you really want them to get?

What could you do differently that would be more helpful?

“When a child has no doubt about your love and admiration of him, his contentment is the ground on which he can succeed in his endeavors. He will be able to act on his own behalf authentically …” Naomi  : the child must chew her food slowly but must hurry., Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves 2006, p. 43

Get my kids to listen, How?

In the ‘Mum Song’ how many orders do you count ?

I make it seventy-three.  And the Mum Song is only three minutes long!

And that’s not counting the criticisms and the questions.

Anita Renfroe’s exaggeration is glorious.

If we were to record our morning serenade would we hear a similar monologue?

Anita demands her child to hear what she’s saying.

Children don’t hear us when they don’t feel heard.

What‘s the morning song in your house?

What might it be like listening to you?

Is it working?

What would you prefer to do differently?

What would be more helpful to create the atmosphere you desire?

“To listen to someone, to take respectful turns discussing the issue until you reach an unforseeable, good agreement is to dignify you both, to keep you both thinking clearly and acting responsibly.”

Kline Nancy, ‘Time to Think’  Cassell Illustrated, 1999, London, p. 235

‘Here’s your hat. 
And your scarf.’

These words could be part of the ‘Mum Song’ lyric. Anita Renfroe’s Supermum runs round doing everything for this child. She gives her her clothes and her shoes – and presumably everything else. Imagine this same child on her first day at school.

Where’s Mummy? Teacher’s asking me a question.

I don’t know what I should say. And I’m so hungry.

Mummy’s not here to open my lunch box.

Everybody else is eating sandwiches.

I can’t open this. I can’t open my lunchbox.

I’m so hungry. And I want to pee.

Hold my legs tight together.

I can’t go by myself.

I want to pee so bad.

Uh oh.

Doing everything for your child does not equal loving your child. Love is about helping your child to develop her own competence. Observe your own actions. And your child’s. What are the things that your child could be learning to do for herself? Being a coaching parent is not about throwing your child in at the deep end. It’s day by day gentle support towards competence. What could happen if you choose to support your child to do as much as possible for herself?

Today in “The Guardian” Zoe Williams is fed up with the clashes of  parenting ‘gurus’.

Parenting is tough enough without this type of “’dagger-on-a thread’ hectoring”.

Here’s my different, and potentially more helpful perspective.

Parent Coaching provides parents with a support person (either on a one-to-one or in a group context) and trusts that you, the parent is the expert on your own situation.

In Koemba we  talk about the ‘contuitive parent’ – the parent who uses both their conscious awareness of what is helpful in the particular context together with trusting their own intuition, ( hence ‘con-tuition‘ ).

Trust your intuition – that inner sense of what your child  really needs. We have parented successfully for generations. We wouldn’t have survived as a human race if we didn’t know how.

Combine this with your conscious knowledge and you have what is needed to successfully nurture your children at both a physical and emotional level.

Yes –  be open to new learning. Neuroscience has discovered more about how the brain works in the last decade than in the whole of human history.

It makes sense that if we know how the brain functions we will also know what is needed for young brains to thrive.

Think about the language we use – the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to parent or ‘good’ parenting-  infers that there’s also ‘bad’ parenting. As Zoe says, parents have enough stress already – so let’s avoid the judgemental language (unless we’re talking about abuse). Try substituting with the question ‘Is what I’m doing helpful?’ When we use non-judgemental language we can figure out what’s working for our own individual children and our families.

I invite you to replace ‘should’ with ‘could’. e.g.  ‘I should be … ‘  changes to ‘I could …’

Once we recognise we have choices we’re no longer helpless victims but contuitive parents who can meet our children’s needs.

If you haven’t watched Anita Renfroe’s the ‘Mum Song’, for a day’s worth of mothering crammed into 3 amusing minutes, watch this before reading on.

 

It always puts a smile on my face – but it’s also a pretty good encapsulation of the ‘supermom facade’ we’ve developed.

Is this really what our children need or want?

“Get up now, get up now, get up out of bed.

Wash your face. Brush your teeth.

Comb your sleepy head.”

Imagine if this tirade hit you before breakfast.

Experiment for this week:

Before opening your mouth check in with yourself –

‘Is this REALLY what my children need to hear?’

What happens in the home if you talk less and listen more?

Johnny’s freckled face frowns with concentration.

His wet tongue protrudes slightly in the corner of his mouth.

His fingers carefully move the little red Lego block into position.

Almost finished!

His thumb and third finger hold the smooth angular surfaces upright.

He eases it into position on the roof.

He’s nearly made the car.

Johnny gives a small grin.

He’ll show dad he did it all by himself.

He presses downward on the nobbly top surface of the block.

Ker-ack!

Johnny stares in dismay. His beautiful car!

Smithereens – shiny red, blue and white blocks scattered on the floor.

The little black wheels spin upside down.

‘My car!’ he wails.

The cheerful blocks swim in a brown sea as his eyes fill with disappointed tears.

Dad’s arm is gently on his back. He kneels down.

‘You took so long building your car and then it broke.  You’re feeling really upset about that?’

Johnny nods. Gulps. The tears bubble out.

Johnny burrows his wet face into Dad’s comforting shoulder.

Daddy’s here. He understands.

In sharing this story with me the parent reflects,

‘Before learning about a coaching approach to parenting I would have said something like,

“Oh it’s okay. We can build it again. Don’t get upset.”

Now I stay present to what he is experiencing.

I know that Johnny “felt felt”.

And once he’d cried out his disappointment he set to and rebuilt his car.

The connection between us was really great.’

What’s your response when your child experiences disappointment?

What’s  helpful to ensure your child ‘feels felt’?