There’s an audio version of this post here.
“Why won’t they just listen to me???”
This is one of the most common issues mothers are struggling with.
Are you trying to parent differently to the way your parents did? Gentler, calmer, with more consciousness and emotional connection?
If so, it’s likely that you don’t have a roadmap. No prior experience, not childhood role model. Just an inner knowing that things need to be different for you and your child.
It’s a very steep learning curve!
I see a lot of mothers trying really hard not to do some of the things their parents did, such as: smacking, shaming, shouting, punishing etc.
You might find this too, that you know what you don’t want as a parent… but perhaps you struggle a bit with how you do want to positively shape your child’s behaviour?
You might be struggling with getting your child to cooperate with taking a bath, getting dressed, brush their teeth or brush their hair.
You might be finding it near impossible to go anywhere because your child refuses to cooperate with getting in the car seat or impossible to get dinner made because your child keeps climbing all over you!
(If this sounds like you just now, know that even though you might feel alone there’s so many other mums dealing with the same thing!)
I remember back to 2011, when my son was around 12 months old and I felt like I had to keep doing more and giving more to meet his ever increasing needs. He was becoming more clingy, demanding, wanting to be picked up all the time, wanting to breastfeed all the time, he wasn’t sleeping well, so I wasn’t sleeping well. It was completely exhausting!
I really want YOU to know that conscious parenting doesnt have to be this exahusting.
I want you to know the real reason your child refsues to cooperate and how you can start turning things around today.
When you start working with your child’s emotions rather than against them, conscious parenting stops feeling like such an uphill battle.
I’m sure you’ve experienced for yourself that when your child is feeling clear, calm and balanced they actually want to cooperate with you. They want to please you, they want to help you, they want to imitate you. So when they’re NOT doing those things, it’s generally a signal that there are some built up emotions getting in the way.
And generally your child will be giving you lots of signals that they have some built up emotions through their behaviour. It may just be that you have not been aware of these signals until now. These signs will be agitated or challenging type behaviours like not listening, being uncooperative, hurting others, throwing toys, finding it hard to settle into play, finding it hard to relax for sleep, waking a lot at night, clinging, demanding your attention constantly etc.
If you are like many of the mothers that I work with you’re likely to be trying to respond to uncooperativeness in a calm, patient, rational manner. However, it can be very frustrating and you will probably start to lose your patience eventually when your explanations, negotiations and rationalising doesn’t work!
Why? 99% of the time it’s not more information that’s needed.
Eg If your child has refused to brush their teeth a dozen times and you’ve already patiently explained why they need to do this a dozen times… it’s clear that it’s not more information they’re needing here.
When your child is showing you these signals that they have some built up emotions bubbling up in the body (such as refusing to cooperate) they generally don’t need more information at that time. Emotions and rational thoughts are processed in different areas of the brain so when your child is in this feeling state talking to him/her rationally and giving more info isn’t really a match and doesn’t really help.
Instead, you need to meet your child where they are and be with their feelings. (After they have released their feelings and don’t have such a big pressure build up in the body, it would be a better time to talk through the issue and come up with some solutions).
So, instead of trying to rationalise and explain and give further information you can learn to be ok with saying ‘No’ (which comes with its own challenges as a sensitive/ empathic mum!) and setting limits around certain behaviours with love. (I have a masterclass designed to support you with this here )
You don’t have to be harsh or mean or aggressive to set a limit, even though that may have been the case when you were a child! I really find this part to be the golden key to finding balance between conscious and permissive parenting.
“I can see that you’re really upset about going in the car seat. I’m here. I’m listening. But I do need to buckle you in now because we have to get your brother from school.”
“I can see you’re feeling upset/ angry/ frustrated, I hear you, I’m right here with you. But I’m not willing for you to throw your toys.”
“I really hear that you don’t want to brush your teeth. You really don’t want to! I’m here. I’m listening. But we do need to brush your teeth today sweetheart.”
What’s going to happen?
Its unlikely that your child will just happily accept your limit.
When you set this limit it is going to serve as a catalyst for your child to release their built up emotions. Subconsciously, this is what our children know they need in order to come back to their natural state of feeling clear, calm, balanced.
They are probably going to cry or be upset or have a tantrum when you set these limits and rather than distracting them you can learn to hold space and be present with their big feelings.
If you can offery our love and presence (not leave your child alone) tears and tantrums actually serve an incredible healing purpose in their bodies, your child is not trying to manipulate you with their tears or tantrum and you don’t need to distract away from them.
Being aware and knowing that tears or tantrums are highly likely when you set a limit, you may like to allow a bit more time for tricky transitions (such as refusig to brush teeth, go to bed, sit in the car) so that you can be calm, present and relexed rather than rushing.
If you resonate with this approach and you actually would like to try it out, you will very quickly start seeing some tangible benefits for yourself: such as your child feeling clearer, calmer, more in balance, able to settle into play, able to relax for sleep, sleeping peacefully, listening to you and willing to cooperate again.
So to summarise, the real reason your child refuses to cooperate:
- built upemotions sitting in the body will effect your child’s willingness to cooperate and they will be giving you SIGNALS that they have built up emotions through their agitated type behaviours throughout the day
And how to turn it around:
- Its ok to say no and set limits around certain behaviours, with love
- Its ok for our children to be upset with these limits and we can learn to be present and hold space for their feelings rather than distracting them
After expressing any built up emotions through tears/ tantrums your child will return to a natural state of clarity, calm and be more willing to cooperate.
If you have any questions or would like some support with this, I’d love to hear from you! You can take a look at my online programs or get in touch through my Facebook group and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.