In supporting parents with parenting, one of the things we can explore with parents is their own beliefs about their child and about themselves.
Their beliefs may dictate the way they react emotionally to the child in a helpful or unhelpful way. In cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), we use the framework of helpful versus not helpful, rather than right or wrong.
Our feelings and emotional reactions are often the reflection of our values and beliefs. If we can recognize our own beliefs, we may be able to defuse, change, or reframe those beliefs in order to change our emotional reactions. Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) would take a different approach by helping parents to making room for those feelings through expansion, rather than changing the underlying beliefs. Different parents prefer different strategies depending on their personality and past experiences. At the end of the day, do what works for them.
So what are the common beliefs we see in parents who are struggling?
My child is so naughty
My child is so stubborn
There is something wrong with my child
My child simply don’t listen
My child is so defiant
My child is so entitled
I am a bad parent
I am not good enough
To change the feeling/reaction, one may have to change, reframe, or defuse from the beliefs that lead to that feeling/reaction. Suppressing, avoiding, or trying to change the reaction, are probably not going to work effectively in the long term.
Alternatively, one may make room for those feelings through expansion, and focus on value based actions, rather than fight or flight responses. It’s definitely not easy, and lots of support is required.
Have you had experiences helping parents like the above?