The #1 Job of a Parent – Be the Boundary
Oh, parenting. It seems endless because it is. It’s an incredible opportunity to raise the future better than our own. It’s also really tough sometimes, so any lessons found along the way are worth sharing.
Kids are learning and acting out their feelings as they feel them and haven’t learned that it’s not always appropriate to do that, so it’s one of the jobs as a parent to put guardrails in place.
Our number one job is to keep our kids safe, from each other, from the world, and from themselves.
Where the emotions are bubbling up and being expressed as tantrums, hitting, spitting, biting, defiance, or being rude, the child may look aggressive or mean, but are hurting on the inside. That’s why, after a pause, they can run and hide or cry. They are calling out to us, saying, “Please help me. I need you to help me feel safe again.”
How do we do that?
- Set firm limits
- Tolerate pushback
- Step into our authority and embody sturdy leadership
- Instead of saying “Stop hitting, we don’t hit in this family” – we say “I won’t let you hit, my job is to keep you safe and right now that means holding you and sitting with you until we get through this.”
Once things have calmed down and the kid is open to a discussion you can talk through their feelings and ask how they felt with some measures on what to do when they recognize that feeling next time.
Action plan for next time they feel like they need to hit, be rude, etc.:
- Come and tell me (the parent/guardian/teacher)
- Practice mindful breathing – count to 3 on each breath in and out
- Walk away and find a peaceful activity
- Say “I’m feeling angry/sad/mad/nervous before you feel like you have to hit, run, be mean so I can help.”
- Remind the child that you are here to help you go through it. Being a kid is hard and that’s ok.