Practical Tips for Having "A Talk" With Your Kid

This is the last article in my series on parenting from the heart.  If you've found any of this helpful or if you have questions or concerns, I'd love to hear from you.  Just reply to this email.  

Today, we will look at some practical parenting tips for how to talk with your kid when a part of you is upset with them.  

  • I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.  When you’re feeling upset with your kid, and you want to talk with them about it, change the physical things. 

1) Move to a different location.Go to a different room in the house, go for a walk outside, go for a drive, anything to change the environment from where the conflict began.
2) Change your posture toward your child.If you are standing, sit down.If you’re face-to-face, sit side-by-side. If there are a few feet between you, move closer.

  • Name your feelings out-loud.  If you’re really angry with your child, say that.  “I’m really angry with you right now.  It hurts a lot when I ask you to do something and then you do the exact opposite. I’m feeling upset right now, and we’re going to talk about this, but I need some time first.”  This does two things.  First, it models to your child that it’s okay to have emotions and to talk about them, helping your child feel more comfortable talking about their feelings with you.  Second, the simple act of saying, “I’m angry about this because…” actually helps you to feel less angry.  The only way to move forward from your anger into a place of heart-led compassion is to allow yourself to feel the anger.    

The following tips are from a handout I give to parents in my coaching sessions.  It’s called How to Calm Emotionally Charged Situations.  
When You’re Feeling Upset with Your Child…
Things to do before you talk:

  • Take some deep breaths and allow for some silence.

  • Close your eyes

  • Notice tension in your body, and relax the muscles

  • Change your voice: Lower volume and add more breath

  • Sit side-by-side with your child

  • Physical touch (when it makes sense)

Things to say to your child:

  • “[A part of me is] or [I am] (upset, angry, sad, etc) about this, so it probably wouldn’t be helpful to talk now…How about we talk in ___________minutes/hours.”

  • “You seem upset about this.”

  • “I can tell this is really important to you.”

  • “Okay…that makes sense why you’d feel that way.”

  • “I understand.”

  • “I don’t understand, but I’d actually really like to…can you help me?”

  • (After it’s done) “I love you and you’re a good person.  I’m really glad you shared that with me.”

Things NOT to say out loud (at least not yet):

  • I hear that you’re upset but

  • This isn’t that big of a deal…you’re overreacting.

  • Calm down.

  • You always do this…(fill in behavior)

  • Why are you acting this way?

Note that this last group is all things we say from parts of us that are upset, angry, etc.  Often, by taking some time to listen to the part of us who’s upset, it will calm down so we can lead from our heart with our child.
This is the last article in the series.  Most of this stuff sounds easy, but in the moment when you’re staring your child in face, it is very difficult to actually do.  I can help. Contact me directly for a free 30-minute consultation.