Parenting / Special Needs Parenting

How to be a Happier Parent

man in long sleeve shirt standing beside girl in pink tank top washing hands

The thoughts you are thinking as a parent have a HUGE impact on how you feel and what you do. If you look at the Self-Coaching Model below, you will see that our thoughts often end up in our result line. That is because our brains want to be right more than they want to be happy.

So it’s very important to be aware of the thoughts you are thinking as a parent. Take a moment to write some of them down. Think specifically of some times when you were frustrated or angry with your kids. What was your thought in that moment?

Here are some of my default thoughts as a parent:

  1. “This is so awful.”
  2. “This is so annoying.”
  3. “Why have I been given this?”
  4. “No one will ever be there for me.”
  5. “I can’t handle my own kids without help.” (This is specific to me right now having a special needs child. If his school is cancelled for the day, it is hard at home.)
  6. “Stupid boy.”
  7. “This is ridiculous.”
  8. “I hate this.”
  9. “He knows better.”
  10. “I’m tired of this.”
  11. “This is my fault.”
  12. “He is ruining my life.”
  13. “Things are just going to get worse.”

Notice how you feel when you read these thoughts. What emotions do these thoughts produce? For me, these thoughts produce frustration, shame, sadness, anger, and fear.

Emotions fuel our actions. So if you are thinking thoughts that produce frustration and anger, how are you going to show up around your kids? How are you going to discipline them? Whatever you do, it will be with an angry tone.

Intentional Emotions and Thoughts

So what emotions do you want to feel when dealing with your children? How do you want to feel when you are disciplining them? I want to feel peaceful and confident. What thoughts do I need to think in order to produce those emotions? Here are a few examples of some thoughts.

This is the part of my life when things are hard, but it’s going to get better.

When I think this, I feel determination. Determination is a good feeling to have when I am working with my children.

I was prepared for this.

When I think this thought, I feel confident. Confidence is a great feeling to fuel my actions disciplining my child or dealing with their behaviors.

My child is on their own journey. I’m watching this like a movie.

When I think this, I feel peaceful. It reminds me that I cannot control my child. They will make their own decisions. If I think of it as a movie, I am reminded that in some parts of the movie, the characters go through struggles. And then it is usually all good in the end.

I was made for this.

This thought gives me confidence.

He/She is not doing this to hurt me.

This thought makes me feel more compassion for the child and less anger. My default thought is that this child is intentionally trying to hurt me. But that thought doesn’t produce very good results for me. So I would rather redirect my brain towards the above thought.

I wonder what is going on for him/her?

This thought makes me feel compassion and curiosity. Compassion and curiosity are great feelings to have when going into a discussion with a child about why they act a certain way. These feelings are a lot more productive than entering a discussion filled with judgement and anger.

They are just having a human moment.

I love to remind myself of this thought. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone experiences negative emotion. It is part of being human. My children are human. They will make mistakes and experience a lot of negative emotion. And that’s okay!

Nothing has gone wrong.

I love this thought. It brings me a feeling of peace. I need to constantly remind myself that nothing has gone wrong. Things were supposed to happen this way. My brain thinks that if I or anyone around me is experiencing negative emotion, then something has gone wrong. But that’s just not true. We are supposed to experience negative emotion. It’s part of being human. Kids cry sometimes. That doesn’t mean you need to fix it. Negative emotion doesn’t mean you need to fix something.

This is his/her life. He/She gets to choose.

This is another thought that reminds me of my job: to parent my child but NOT to control them. They get to choose.

How can I show love to my child in this moment?

This thought helps redirect my brain away from my angry feelings and towards love.

This isn’t a big deal.

This is a great thought! Lots of things in life are not as important as we think they are.

We can figure this out.

This thought promotes confidence. It helps me to take action towards finding out how to solve my problems.

I am the perfect mom/dad for this.

This thought also gives me confidence.

Adopting New Thoughts

How do you feel after reading those thoughts? Is there any that you can believe? Choose a few that feel good to you and try redirecting your brain towards that thought during the day. If you keep practicing thinking these and other good intentional thoughts, you can literally change your life and how you respond to your kids. You will become a happier parent because the thoughts that you are thinking will produce happy feelings for you. Good luck!

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