Episode 51 – Nothing I say gets my kids to calm down
I have four-year-old twins that are delightful most of the time. They are full of energy and love to chase each other around the house, wrestle with each other, scream, etc. The problem comes when I need them to calm down.
It could be time for bed, I’m on a phone call or the play is escalating to the point where someone is going to get hurt. I tell them to calm down but nothing I say matters to them. I ask them to be quiet, explain why they need to come upstairs, threaten to take away a privilege, nothing I say gets them to calm down.
Last weekend I said, ”If you don’t calm down I’m going to walk out this door and leave you.” They laughed at me and told me to go away. I’m devastated. When they get like this, it feels like they don’t need me or want me around. How do I get my four-year-olds to calm down and listen to what I have to say? Hayley
Parent Educator Answer:
The fact that your kids are having so much fun playing together that they don’t want to stop is a good problem to have. There are many moms who WISH their kids ignored them because they are having so much fun together.
To answer your question, “How do I get my four-year-olds to calm down and listen to what I have to say?” you need to think like a four year old. They are having a FABULOUS time playing with their sibling. Why would they give up something so exciting to do something boring like calm down? Why would they WANT to listen to you? What’s their motivation?
You can imagine preschool teachers run into this all the time. The energy in a class of unsupervised 4 year olds would be combustible! How do teachers get kids to calm down enough to listen to them?
The top 5 tricks for pre-school teachers are: singing, playing music, physical movements, puppets and whispering.
Teachers know they have to create something fun and interesting in order to get a kid’s attention. If you really want to get your four-year-olds to calm down and listen to you, put some music on and start dancing. Once they join in with your fun, then you can slowly wind them down with slower music, singing, lead them into a game on the floor.
You can also try whispering secrets into one kid’s ear. The other child will want to know what she’s missing out on. Then you can whisper something silly into her ear. Both kids will be calm in 30 seconds flat.
But this won’t work for you until you do a little life coaching.
The Life Coaching Answer:
You’ve got this thought inside your head that “Nothing I say matters.” This is TOXIC and will keep you from implementing any strategy or tip. Think about if that were true; that NOTHING I SAY MATTERS. It’s awful. As humans we need to know that we matter, especially to the people that are closest to us.
You might say to me, “I don’t really think that nothing I say matters, I know I matter to my kids”, but that thought is in your subconscious. You might be able to practice the above strategies once or twice, and they will work, but you won’t keep it up.
We like to be right. When we have the underlying belief that “Nothing I say matters” we feel dejected, which makes us speak in a quiet, boring, self-defeated way that causes our kids tune us out. We get to continue to believe the thought “nothing I say matters.”
Children are sensitive to the energies we give out. They like to follow adults who have calm, confident leadership energy. In order to find your confident leadership energy, you’ve GOT to loosen the grip this toxic belief has on you.
As soon as we tell ourselves to stop thinking something, suddenly it’s all we can think about. Instead we wiggle the thought. We poke some holes in the theory that “nothing I say matters.” If you discover a toxic belief that you don’t want to believe any more, ask yourself these questions.
Are you absolutely sure that not one word you have ever said, has ever mattered to anyone alive on the planet? Of course not! Do a mother’s words matter to her children? Therapists have made careers out of helping people deal with the words their mothers said to them!
Is it kind? Would you ever say it to someone else? Hell No! It’s so mean!
Does it give you the results you want? Does it help you get attention and feel like you matter? It may have at some point in your past. Growing up, if you told your mom, “I’m going to walk out of this house and leave” she might have rushed over, given you big hugs and begged you to stay. Or maybe you had a boyfriend who you would threaten to leave if he ignored you and it worked. He would show up with flowers and apologies and tell you how much you meant to him.
Whether it worked in the past or not, the truth is the thought “nothing I say matters” is not giving you the results you want with your kids.
Can you see any reason to continue thinking it? Do you like believing this about yourself? What would you like to believe about the words you say to your kids?
How the brain plays a part
What happens is the brain thinks a thought: “I’m not good enough.” “Nothing I say matters.” or “Nobody likes me.” It’s not thinking logically or scientifically, it’s just a random, self-defeating thought. But then we think it again, and again, and again.
This synapse in the brain is starting to myleinate. We’ve thought this negative thought so many times that it becomes a belief. It FEELS true, even if it’s not. The brain likes to be efficient.
When your children are ignoring you, your brain finds a convenient and efficient path to make sense of it. It doesn’t find the most kind, helpful, or truthful path, just whatever is most efficient.
In order to wiggle a toxic thought, we need to make this synaptic connection inefficient. We do this by pointing out all the ways in which it is illogical, unhelpful, mean, and misaligned with your goals and values. But we also need to discover its benefit. Why did you pick it up in the first place? How is it serving you?
Then we make a better thought right next to the original one.
You get to decide what you want to believe about yourself. Imagine for a minute that you truly believed that your words mattered to your children. Imagine you had tremendous power to hurt or uplift your children. How do you think you would feel? Important? Empowered?
If you are feeling important and empowered how do you imagine you might act? What might you say? I think you would speak louder and clearer. You would probably look them in the eye, maybe put your hand on their shoulder and turn them to face you.
Knowing you had the power to hurt or uplift, you might be very careful with the words you chose and the energy behind them.
If you were able to change your words, voice tone, eye contact and body language in this way, what do you think the result would be? Do you think your children might be more inclined to listen to you?
We always have more power than we think we do to affect every situation.
Supermom Kryptonite: Abdicating the throne
Close your eyes for a minute and imagine you have a chair inside the center of your head. This is YOUR THRONE. No one else has the right to sit inside the center of your head and dictate what you think and do with your life. Yet so many of us ABDICATE this throne to our children, our bosses, husbands, parents, religions, or society as a whole.
Abdicate means to fail to fulfill one’s duty or obligation. Supermoms get so busy taking care of everyone else, that we forget it’s our obligation to govern our minds. We take responsibility for our actions, but we forget to declare dominion over our brains.
Abdicating the throne in the center of our head makes us vulnerable to anyone with a strong will or opinion to take sovereignty over our lives. This drains our energy, making us feel like observers in our lives, or worse, victims.
To boost your energy, kick everyone out of the center of your head and declare dominion over your life. You get to decide what you think about, what to focus on, and your belief about yourself. Make sure you are thinking good thoughts that give you the results you want.
Supermom Power Boost: What do you love?
For an immediate boost of positive emotions, try this from Martha Beck’s book The Joy Diet. Do it by yourself in your journal or try it with friends or family to bounce off their ideas.
What do I LOVE to look at?
Mountain lakes, sunsets on the beach, pine forests, babies faces, rolling green hills, aspen trees blowing in the breeze, puppies and kittens.
What do I LOVE the sound of?
The laughter of children running outside, a mountain stream, a crackling fire, a babies laugh, piano music, my kids cracking each other up. Silence.
What do I LOVE the smell of?
Lemons, chocolate chip cookies baking, chocolate anything, pine trees, campfires.
What do I LOVE the taste of?
Fresh fish and prawns, yellow curry, chocolate chip cookies, croissants, donuts, a good latte, truffles, bundt cake.
What do I LOVE to feel against my skin?
Soft baby blankets, soft baby skin, warmth from a fire, a massage, a warm breeze.
Your mind doesn’t differentiate between experiencing these things in real life versus your imagination. Just thinking about things you love brings you into pure joy and pleasure. Try this with friends or family and see if it doesn’t elevate the level of joy in the conversation.
Quote of the Day:
“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.” Oprah Winfrey