Who remembers Dr. Laura? Mom and I listened to her answer call-in questions on the radio for years. I was amazed that she didn't always have to listen to the whole scenario before she'd cut to the chase and give a great answer. As a parent, we learn that same skill. "No, I don't need to hear all the reasons you didn't get your chores done -- again."
One thing that sticks out in my mind is her focus on doing the right thing – despite how we “feeling” at the moment. In this context I’m relating it to children.
Our feelings are wonderful things. The emotions we feel when the alarm goes off or we're looking forward to the weekend are very different from those brought about by joy, sorrow, fear or anger. These latter feelings can be particularly strong. And when we feel strongly, we often react the same way -- for better or worse. Dr. Lara stresses that as intense and persuasive as these very real emotions can be, they are often relatively temporary. Most of us can relate it to a first crush -- unless you married him. 😂😍
Her point was this. For example: In the midst of new love a son may “feel” like doing all sort of things his “normal” brain would advise against – sneaking out to meet up with his beau, neglecting schoolwork, sex.
Or a 16 year old with new license in hand. She's heard of the speed limit and of the 6-month rule, but..... Unfortunately, sometimes concepts like safety and common sense are the first things to leave the brain.
There are rights and wrongs and as parents we need to make sure our children understand the basic rules of responsible behavior in society and in our homes. But more importantly we must teach them how to navigate those rules and the feelings that are attached, so when their emotions are telling them to jump in the lake, their head will remind them they don’t know how to swim.
Best ways to do this:
1. Set the example. Don't over react to anything. You don't have to be a robot and it's ok to let your child know you aren't happy, but don't do or say things you'll regret 10 seconds later.
2. Be the safe place for your kids. No, sorry, but your kid isn't telling you everything. You can, howevver, make sure they know you are interested, available and that it's okay to disagree with each other. But, and this needs to start early, they also need to understand (say this in a nice way) that it is your home and you expect compliance to basic standards such as: doing their part, being honest, etc.
2. Talk about possible scenarios BEFORE they come up. "What should we do if you disagree with a rule we have and break it?"
It's hard. We are human and also have very strong emotions because we care. Always remember that we teach them because we love them.