During the courses we always encourage the parents that they can parent in a positive way. That it is hard at first but over time it becomes second nature. Just like anything we do in life that is new at the beginning it requires a lot of effort to change. However, we aren’t the only ones trying to adjust. Sometimes our children have a hard time understanding what is going on too.
For some children the change is so far from what they know about their mum and dad that they don’t really know how to respond, or if we are being genuine. On our courses we come across parent/ child feedback that sometime says “My kids keep saying what’s happened to you mum, and why are you being so nice to me?”
Sometimes our children even respond to our positive behaviour negatively as if we were parenting in our old sergeant major style. It seems as if they are still stuck in a defensive pattern of responding to us. I know what this is like because it happened to me. My kids would do things and automatically go into defence mode whenever I tried to speak to them. I know it wasn’t their fault. They had learned that the pattern of communication in our house was I do something, and then daddy yells.
I think that was the hardest time for me. I was trying to use the skills and strategies but my kids still acted like I was an ogre. It felt like what I was doing was pointless. “What’s the use of using these skills and strategies if my kids still think I’m a monster like Shrek?” Actually I was just like Shrek.
You start to feel a little down, like whatever you try doesn’t work. But you know what? Like Shrek I just kept on practicing the skills and strategies and guess what. My children began to adjust to my new behaviour too. Once my tamariki realised daddy had changed and that he wasn’t going to yell and carry on like a troll anymore they stopped yelling and carrying on like trolls too.
I suppose the point I trying to make is this – keep trying. Even if you feel like it’s not working, keep going. Parenting in a positive way is the best for our tamariki and if they react in the same old way that’s ok. They are practicing too. Learning that the changes mum and dad are making are going to stay and that they don’t have to be afraid or react in a negative way.