The 3 Questions Every Parent Should Know to Create More Peace (and less yelling!)

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It began like a regular Monday
Kids a little slower to get up
Needing a little more support
They were pretty tired
(It was the day after turning the clock ahead
Otherwise known as the bane of parenting every spring)

He got dressed and
Came down for breakfast
( to get his 30 minutes of screen time)
Then he announced
I’m tired.  I’m going back to bed.
I let him go
We had a little time.

I focused on the connection
And listened to his complaints
I could feel the pressure rising
As the time moved on
It was after all a school day
And not one he could miss.

I gently guided him downstairs
As he continued to resist
Out to the car we headed and that was all it took
For him to completely lose it
I stepped in when Daddy’s patience drained away.

He thrashed like a caged wild animal
Throwing punches without regard
I saw the wild look in his eyes and knew
Talking was futile
So I leaned in
And focused on loving him
(gently reminding myself we had time even as the minutes ticked away)


He was struggling to come out
Stuck in his emotional brain
Irrational in his thoughts and actions
He finally took a breath
And I saw my chance
I suggested he simply ride along while I took his brother to school.

The ride game him a chance to breathe
But at school the demands continued
He was not going to school today
I felt the pressure rising some more
I had things to do today
And I didn’t have time for this.

The stress and the frustration felt restricting
And I felt the tears welling up
Why did it have to feel so hard some days?
Why couldn’t this feel easier?

I felt so torn between wanting to support my child
In his time of need
And all the things I had planned that day.
Caught between holding the limit around the school day
And wanting to cuddle my struggling child all day.

So I did the only thing I could
I stopped and took a breathe
As the tears began to take over
And the pressure felt too much
I sat in that car in the parking lot
Of school and breathed.

In that space I let myself feel the frustration and the tension
The disappointment and the resentment
And as I did a beautiful thing happened
The thought creating those feelings showed up
The old story that hijacked me so many times.

Why does this have to be so hard.
The story that created the feeling of resentment
The feeling that made the thought feel so real
The thought that generated the feeling that took me
Out of compassion and into resentment
The thought that made this situation feel like it was all about me
Making it impossible to truly see my son in this moment

In that space, I asked myself,
“If this felt easy, what solution might I see”
And almost immediately the solution appeared.
I suggested that we go back home.
I had 30 minutes before my first appointment
30 minutes that would give him a chance to breathe

A chance for connection
A chance to then enter school not under duress
But with a kiss goodbye and a smile.

I reminded daily when I stop to notice
That the energy that I bring to each moment
Has the potential to foster cooperation
Or have my child dig in their heels in defiance
To spill into giggles or frustration
To strengthen the bonds of connection
Or poke holes of disconnection.

Who I’m being as a parent has the potential to completely alter the moment
When I’m caught in my own head I can’t possibly be in compassion and empathy
When I’m so worried about how this affects me, I can’t see the solution that fills both of our cups
When all I see is my son’s behavior, I’m not seeing this little boy who’s so clearly struggling in this moment.

This isn’t some big secret I’ve uncovered
But I’m going to share with you the 3 questions
You can use in these moments to create a pause
And create a shift in your mindset opening up
Beautiful possibility that exists in the space of peace and calm
(and can help you shift out of that urge to yell and lose it)

“I’m noticing I feel (frustrated, angry, sad) because (my child’s not listening, I have to do everything around here).  If I zoom out and take in the whole picture, what can I choose to think about this moment instead? And if I think that what might I choose to feel instead?”

Our feelings are 100% generated by our thoughts
(not actually what your child is doing in that moment
but what the story you’re making the behavior mean)
and you can actually choose a different thought to feel differently

“Am I making this about me and is it possible I’m taking this behavior personally?”

So often what a child does feels very personal, like they are doing it to you.
To try to get away with something or push your buttons.
 But they’re having their own experience.
The thoughts you have about it come from old stories and beliefs
likely that you struggled to make sense of as a child
(when you didn’t have someone to help you navigate your feelings
or who dismissed your needs)

“If this felt easy, what would I choose?”
So often as parents the feelings that creeps in during those moments of
Kids not listening or doing as we want
Is why does this have to be so hard.
But when the thought is around how hard it is
That is exactly what your brain is focused on
Not considering what might be an easy solution.

Peaceful parenting isn’t permissive parenting.  
It’s not letting your child do whatever they want.
It is setting limits and boundaries.
But you can’t be a peaceful parent if you’re not a peaceful person.
 It can feel impossible to stop yelling.
It can feel like you’ve lost all control and in that place of
powerlessness to declare that peaceful parenting
doesn’t work for your child.
But it begins with you, the parent.  
Before trying to shift how you parent with these new tools and strategies.
You go first.

Peace comes from awareness and understanding of your mindset,
your beliefs, the lens through which you see the world
Peace is possible when you understand the process of your
thoughts creating your feelings allowing you to choose a different thought.

When you develop the awareness to choose your thought
in any situation,
You become the creator of your experience
You allow for choice in how your respond
to your child without getting all caught up
in how this moment is about you.

This is how you set boundaries that peacefully stick
Boundaries that are important in your family
versus what you think you should be doing.

This is how I find the joy in parenting every day
I choose to see my child saying no to me
as an expression of his independence
I choose to see my child not listening
as being deep in his own experience
and what he needs in that moment
I choose to see meltdowns as a challenge
my child is struggling with at the moment.

This awareness did not come easy.
There are still so many times when I feel
the desire to exert control bubbling up
causing the familiar feelings of
frustration and anger.

It’s not that I don’t have those feelings
It’s that I understand where they come from
and I see them as communication to check in with myself.

Do I worry that without consequences for that behavior
my son will think he can use it
to go to school late every day?

No. It’s been 2 weeks and he’s gotten ready
every morning without struggle
but what he did learn is that when he is
struggling mommy will hold him with compassion
and love
and as my patience and ability to do this grows
I see the same growing in him in interactions with his brother.

But without this awareness you continue to bump
against this feeling of powerlessness when your child
doesn’t listen or do as you ask.  

Ready to learn more?
Looking for some strategies you can begin to apply today?
Click here for more tools you
can apply today to create peace in any parenting moment.

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Irene is a certified parenting coach who is passionate about creating peace in parenting and opening parents hearts to what is possible in their family. She works with clients 1-1 and offers support through her digital course, The Peaceful Parent Playbook. She is host of the private Facebook Community, The Moms Hive. She is inspired to help moms let go of the doing that leads to the overwhelm and more “bee-ing” in peace, joy and a love for parenting.

Irene McKennaComment