Positively Focusing Emotional Energy
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
(listen to article read by the author)
Think of a challenging parenting situation which you’ve been dealing with for a few months or perhaps a few years. It might involve concerns about your child’s performance at school, use of digital devices, friendships, lying, negative attitude or use of drugs.
Feeling Emotionally Drained
These unsolved problems can drain you emotionally. When you think about the problem you might find yourself feeling angry, worried or sad. What do you do to feel better? You might distract yourself with a favorite activity or perhaps a large glass of wine. While this does nothing to solve the problem, at least you temporarily feel better.
Perhaps you try once again to change your children’s behavior by talking to them or punishing them. You know this hasn’t worked in the past but you don’t know what else to do. Or maybe you remind yourself that your child is going through a phase which should be over soon.
Parents dealing with ongoing problems describe feeling like being on a roller coaster. They seesaw between feeling ok and feeling terrible. They get pushed from one side to the other by events and their own thoughts.
Laurie first became concerned about her son, Aiden, when he was 10. He came home from a friend’s house smelling of smoke. When she questioned him about this he blamed his friend’s mom for smoking around him. Laurie knew this woman did not smoke and soon Aiden admitted he had tried smoking with his friend. She grounded him at home for a couple days and he promised never to do it again.
The next big incident happened a couple years later when Laurie picked Aiden up from a party. His words slurred and he confessed he had been drinking. Laurie told Aiden he could not go to this friend’s house again but his friend was welcome to come to their home. Next Aiden’s grades started slipping. When she talked to him about his grades, he claimed school had gotten boring but agreed to work harder on turning in all his assignments.
Each time Aiden reassured her that he would change his behavior she felt better. However, it wasn’t long before Aiden would have another red flag behavior
. She was increasingly feeling angry or worried most of the time.
Choosing Positive Action Feelings
Laurie felt like she was on a pendulum swinging back and forth without making any real progress. She would get angry and punish Aiden. He would apologize. Before long there would be another incident.
She was discouraged because nothing she did seemed to work. Can you relate to having a problem like this? When you are experiencing strong negative feelings like anger or frustration, you cannot do your best thinking.
You can improve your ability to think clearly by first calming down. Next choose the feelings you want to have when trying to solve this problem. Choose three positive feelings that you would like to hold. These are some possibilities: