You remember the story of 12-year-old Peter who flew into rages and his parents felt held hostage?
(Read his story here Disassembling a 12-year old’s anger if you haven’t yet.)
During the first two months of parent coaching, his family saw decreased anger and defiance and were hopeful that things were improving for good.
However, behavior began escalating even though parents were practicing their new tools. So, what happened?
Well, Mad to Glad parent coaching is a model where we don’t simply focus on standard parenting advice…we look beneath the behavior. Both for children AND their parents.
When I see behaviors slide after intentional effort I get curious (some would call it nosey). I ask more questions and spend more time listening.
To Peter’s mom, I said, “If you want long-term behavior change we need to get vulnerable and look at the whole family. What am I missing here?”
She hesitated. And got choked up.
In a quiet voice she said, “I wondered if I should’ve shared this with you earlier.”
“When Peter’s behaviors started a year ago it came after a stressful period where my husband and I were trying to conceive but kept having miscarriages. Recently, we lost another baby.”
“Peter is a hard kid to be around in the best of times, and right now I’m in a place where I’ve lost hope. I try to parent well. I stay calm, I eat dinner with the family, but that’s about all I can do.”
“After dinner I isolate myself in the bedroom because I don’t have the energy to be around. I come out when I hear raised voices to see if I can help, but Peter always says something mean to me and I bolt.”
“I can be calm, but I can’t be present.”
Have you ever felt this way? Where you’ve lost hope? Felt too overwhelmed to connect?
In moments like these we do our best...we keep striving...we keep pushing to do/be better...but sometimes we need to just stop.
Stop the guilt and self-blame of not parenting the way you “should.”
Stop trying to keep all the plates spinning.
In situations like these, it’s MOST helpful to look at the ONE thing that -- if done consistently -- would move you in a positive direction. Even though it’s often slower than we would like it to be.
We all experience lost hope and overwhelm at times. Different stories. Same emotions.
There is no right or wrong way to feel. There is no right or wrong speed with which to recover.
Lovingly, I acknowledge that children have predictable responses to parent’s emotions and behaviors but that doesn’t mean you’re in a space to shift.
In Peter’s case, he was feeling abandoned by his mom. When I pointed this out, she acknowledged, “It makes sense that my son doesn’t feel valued when I retreat. I suppose this causes him to act out for attention even more.”
Does this mean we, as humans, can instantly heal and stop our own behaviors that, admittedly, might be making a situation worse?
It doesn’t. But it DOES become a turning point.
Peter’s mom began a deeper healing process the moment she vulnerably admitted where she was at. This created a new possibility for how she will be around him, which created a new possibility for how his behavior will be around her.
One day at a time.
It will take a bit more parent coaching (we usually go for six months total) and self-reflection but a new future with her son is within grasp now.
Like Peter’s mom, you are capable of healing your emotions and your family.
Parent coaching is an unconventional path but the exploration and discovery about what your family needs to bring more peace and joy home is worth it!
If you need a healing guide to help your family’s process I’m here for you.
Read how parent coaching works and, when you’re ready, book an initial session here.
P.S. Did you see the Autism Recovery Summit starts May 25? Renowned holistic practitioner, Luminar Serdar, is a colleague and friend who pulled together experts who share simple and non-invasive solutions to improve development, growth, communication, connection, sleep, and head pain. If you have an autistic child or know someone who does it’s worth checking out!! Free registration here: https://bit.ly/2VNzvlv
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