Harnessing Your Parenting Superpower
We watch superhero movies and talk about imaginary superpowers with our children, but did you know that all parents have their own superpower that they can use during moments when their child is having big emotions and behaviours?
What is this superpower, you ask? It’s x-ray vision!
Parenting x-ray vision allows you to look beneath the difficult behaviour and peer inside your child to figure out what is driving or fueling the behaviour.
Imagine behaviours labeled as rude, angry, withdrawn, manipulative, aggressive, or non-compliant as the tip of an iceberg. Below the surface, the part of the iceberg we don’t see, are our child’s underlying needs and vulnerable feelings like shame, fear, worthlessness, anxiety, and confusion.
Parenting x-ray vision allows us to tune in and respond to these underlying needs rather than the behaviours we see. Doing so allows us to respond with understanding and empathy, and helps us better address the “root cause”.
Here are some questions and ways of thinking to help you access your x-ray vision:
- What is the most compassionate interpretation of my child’s behaviour? For example, instead of saying "they are too lazy to get their homework done” a more compassionate interpretation may be, “there must be something really hard about starting homework”
- Reframe statements such as “attention seeking” to “connection seeking”, “unacceptable” to “understandable”, or “aggressive” to “frightened”
- Meet the behaviour with curiosity:
What might be happening in my child’s brain? Do they feel safe and connected? If not, what might be the reason? What skills might they be lacking to respond more effectively?
As Dr. Ross Greene says, “kids do well when they can”. By harnessing your parenting superpower, you can better connect with your child by being with them in difficult moments, working together to figure out the root cause of their difficulties.
This blog post is adapted from the following resources, see below for more information:
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"I focus on children and youth because they don't have the experience to cope with life's challenges that the rest of us do. They are our future, and I think it is important that we support them to keep their hopes and dreams alive."