‘If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about’
I heard someone say that to their child today in the cafe. It sent me tumbling back to my childhood. Have you ever used that phrase? Can you remember hearing that phrase as a child? Was it effective?
For those of you who have seen me speak at events or have attended one of my NLP4Parents workshops, you’ll know I’m very passionate about language, in particular the way we communicate to our children. Repeatedly hearing sentences that make us question our belief system or our safety can have a significant and profound effect on a child’s confidence.
I heard this phrase a lot as a child. To be fair, I cried A LOT! However, as an adult looking back I can understand why I cried a lot. I spent a lot of my childhood confused. I had a lot of conflicting emotions. Some of the people I thought were supposed to love and care for me were not acting in a loving or caring way. Many of the boundaries we talked about in the ‘Brilliant Boundaries’ webinar were not being managed well and I was unsure of the part I was supposed to play. I didn’t understand how I was supposed to feel and react. I was overwhelmed and the only way to let this out, I believed at that time, was through tears of confusion.
Did being told ‘if you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about’ help me? Not at all. In fact it usually made me cry louder while I continued to wrestle with the overwhelming emotions, coupled now with the fear of a bad consequence if I couldn’t stop crying.
Let’s look at this one simple sentence. Imagine your younger self or your child is upset/frustrated/angry/sad about something and they are displaying this feeling by crying. It may be the 5th time they’ve cried that day, however, which of these makes more sense to you:
To empathise. To listen to the reasons they feel upset/frustrated/angry/sad. To understand them a little more and to join them in this feeling until they have looked the feeling square in the face and realised that they can cope with it. Helping them understand that the feeling itself is helpful. It’s providing a clue as to a problem they may be facing or they fear they are going to face. By reviewing it with you they get to understand it more and move on from it.
Threaten them with an action that’s potentially going to make them feel more upset/frustrated/angry/sad.
Which will you choose?
Brilliant Boundaries and Loose Language are two of the topics we cover in the Confidence Builder Club sessions. By joining the club you’ll receive 2 videos per month which provide you with new tools and techniques you can use at home to help build your connection with your child whilst boosting their confidence. Come and join us in the club.