Many parents feel horrible about the number of times they lose their temper. One reason the blow-ups happen is because parents deny their own frustrations and don’t express themselves at times when feelings are manageable. You know, those moments when you are actually capable of expressing yourself like an adult! We owe this to our kids because they don’t always pick up on our body language, facial expression and tone of voice. Our subtle feelings like frustration or annoyance, fly under their radar. Teenagers will also misread emotions and see anger instead of feelings like worry, concern or overwhelmed. Body language can be misinterpreted by adults too as we tend to see or hear what we fear, especially during times of conflict. To make matters just a little more confusing, we often don’t even notice our subtle feelings and that’s when we find ourselves slamming cupboard doors or going on the attack. Then, we wonder why our kids don’t listen to us! If you are stuck in this pattern, change it!
When we say people are acting childish, we usually mean that their feelings are driving their behaviour. Think of the last time you “lost it” with your child. Maybe you were trying to get out of the house. Perhaps it was at arsenic hour, just as you were making dinner. What feelings came up before you lost it? Did you express yourself? How are other people, especially kids, supposed to know how you feel? I-statements are not nicey-nicey ways of tiptoeing around issues.
Using them is a very mature thing to do. You will feel more like your child’s parent than their sibling when you pull this off. It’s okay, even beneficial if you say things like, “I’m feeling grumpy; I need a moment to myself.” Or “I feel so annoyed that you aren’t ready to go. I want to be on time!” Your body language will be understood if you use your words. This isn’t a tool to control others but it is an effective way to deal with the daily challenges of life. This can also eliminate needless punishments. After all, would you remove your partner’s car keys if he or she came home late? No, you would express how worried you were and how upset you feel. You might be surprised at how much kids will “respect” you when you practice this.