I Feel Stuck!

Date: February 27, 2011

Everybody's been there. And maybe you are even there right now. You feel like you are doing everything right, the way you learned, the way you have practiced and the way it has worked in the past. Yet, something isn't working this time and you can't seem to be able to figure out why. Well, recently I worked with a mom who was in such a place. Here is the story of our session and how it turned it out. Maybe……the piece to her puzzle will be the piece to yours, now or later, and you too, can become unstuck!

I had met with Sandy ( of course, it is not her real name!) several times in the past couple of years. She was well read and well versed in Love and Logic. She had been practicing it with commitment, and there had much postive change within her family. When we got together last week, it had been several months since our last consult. As she got me up to date on the goings on and issues of her family, I was impressed with how well she remembered and practiced the Love and Logic principles. She was doing a great job of remaining calm, having empathy for her daughter, eight year old Kailey, when she made mistakes or made poor choices. She was not rescuing her and was allowing the consequences to be the teacher. And most impressive of all, she was not pouring salt into the wound by reminding Kailey of her mistake…. to hammer in the lesson (and erase that lesson by making Kailey feel stupid!) Sandra was also doing a good job of giving her daughter choices whenever possible and using enforceable statements rather than commands since these things empower the child and help them to feel respected. So why then, Sandra wanted to know, was Kailey so often grumpy, mad and just plain hostile toward her mother? Sandra knew that there had to be a missing piece to the puzzle and it was causing Kailey to feel resentful toward her mom.

During our session together, Sandra mentioned also that her daughter complains a lot. She often puts herself down…. the way she looks, her school work, etc. When I asked Sandra how she responded to Kailey's complaints, the missing puzzle piece jumped out! Like most loving mothers, Sandra was trying to build her daughter up whenever she felt down. To, "I hate my hair….it's so ugly," Mom would respond with, " oh Honey, no it's not….your hair is gorgeous" and to "my handwriting is so messy" she would respond with something like, "no it's not…..for an eight year old, it is very neat." As Sandra was speaking, a smile came across my face. And then Sandra realized the piece, too. With her eyes wide open she exclaimed, "Oh my God! I have been telling her all of her feelings are wrong! I have not made her feel heard, understood or that her opinion matters. I've got it!"

So, what responses are best if we want our kids to feel like we care about their perspective? Together, Sandra and I re-worked her answers to her daughter's complaints. Instead of arguing with her about whether or not her hair is ugly or gorgeous, she has decided to say, "you aren't feeling good about your hair", or "sounds like you feel you're having a bad hair day….I hate those!" And the same of the handwriting or any other complaint like these. By simply validating her feelings, Kailey will begin to feel like her mother is truly listening, understands how she feels and has some empathy for her. To solve the issue is not Sandra's job. That belongs to Kailey. To listen and care….is her mother's place and gift to her daughter.