You know how we can end up being the parent we never planned to be when we react to our child more intensely and harshly than we mean? It’s often around a maddening and exhausting daily power struggle like morning routine, bedtime, school work, etc. Afterwards, we’re left with not only the anger and frustration from the incident itself, but the guilt that consumes us in the middle of the night, right?!
There are many tips and strategies that can help with power struggles. However, in order to interrupt the triggering, negative feedback loops in a lasting way, we need to dig a little deeper in order to uncover what is coloring our reaction. Only then can we parse out what’s happening right here, right now with our kid and be able to take the most effective action.
Let me show you what I mean.
Miranda was having a power struggle almost every day with her eight-year-old son around food - maybe you can relate. She’d ask him what he wanted, but no matter what she offered, it wasn’t right - even if it had been ok yesterday! It was super frustrating, maddening and she felt like she was caught in a no-win situation! As we talked about it and did a gentle process together to uncover what might be coloring the extreme feelings she was having, we discovered a memory that she hadn’t thought about for years.
As a little girl I would go into the garage, where my dad was working, to be with him. I'd hand him tools I thought he’d want but they were never right. I couldn’t please him, no matter how hard I tried.
Those feelings of rejection, loneliness and never being enough got stored in her body-mind as a felt sense even as the memory was “forgotten”.
When she couldn’t please her son, the same felt sense of rejection she had had with her dad all those years ago was unconsciously coloring her reaction to her son in present time. Once we shone a light on that, we were able to sort out what was actually happening with her son and implement effective strategies that she could carry out with ease and confidence.