S1 E02 - The ShiftMar 15, 2021
Parenting my child and his difficult behaviours just kept getting worse and worse until I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore and finally reached out for help. The changes our family experienced were very profound, and I never expected what I was going to have to do to get them. This is the starting point to one of the biggest revelations in parenting I’ve ever had. The core of what we did and why we got the results we did influences everything I do in my coaching practice. The change in my son’s behaviour didn’t come quickly; but it did come, and as I look back at it and what we went through I am amazed at how much progress we made after just that one session and the book she recommended.
In this episode of The Freedom Moms Podcast we cover:
- What a meltdown looked like in our home
- What my story about the situation was
- Why it’s not him that needed to change
- How shifting my expectations changed everything for us both
I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.
Link to membership: By Design
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My website: coachcrystal.ca
The book I mention on the show: Rest, Play, Grow
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.
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This is Episode 2, The Shift.
What a meltdown looked like in our home
All right, so I'm going to describe a little bit, so you have a better idea about what a meltdown would be. So, maybe this child didn't get the right color cup, or I cut something wrong on his plate, or maybe somebody said something in a way that he didn't appreciate; and he would immediately get frustrated.
So, he would get, you know, mad or angry. And I would usually say like, "Calm down, this isn't a big deal." You know, not really validating his emotions, looking back on it now, but I would immediately get frustrated. So, then he would get even more mad. He would be like, "You never listen to me, you guys don't care about me, you're so annoying."
I'd, you know, say, "Stop yelling," or something like that. And then, he would really start yelling, and then I would yell back at him, and we'd just get in this yelling fight. And he'd run into his room, and he'd slam the door; and he would take things off of the walls, and he would dump over bunk beds.
And like, it was just like, just so intense of emotions, and intense the things that he would say to me and towards the other children also, but mostly to me.
Reflecting on how I handled the meltdowns…The mistakes that I made
But looking back on it now, like the way that I responded was the same way, right? He's having this huge meltdown, and I basically just have a meltdown back at him. I'm, like, slamming the door. Like, 'You can't treat us this way, and you can't speak to us this way, and this is totally unacceptable.'
And you know, all of the words and the way that I showed up in that moment was really matching the emotion that he was showing up with, which is definitely something we're going to be talking about later on the podcast; but it was just really not helping. And looking at it now, I'm like, 'Well, obviously, it wasn't helping,' but at the time I didn't really know any other way.
I felt like it really was all his fault and this was all a him problem, which is probably why I was showing up in that way.
Changes that I made after reaching out for help
So, that's kind of where we were at when this psychotherapist came over, and I honestly didn't ever have her come over again. It was just that expectation shift that I needed to start moving me along. So, I read the book; I really dug in. I started thinking about it. I started thinking about shifts that I could make.
And I realized like, 'Okay, if this is going to be the way it's going to be forever, I probably need to show up differently. So, how am I going to do that?' And it was so, so difficult to start with. So, he would start freaking out.
He would run into his room, he would slam the door and I'd be like, sometimes I just wouldn't say anything at all, because I just felt like if I said anything, it was not going to be kind.
If I felt like I could handle it, I would say something like, "Okay, we love you. You know, we'll be here." Right? I don't know if he even heard me over the screaming that he was doing.
And then, I would just go into my room, and I would just lay on the bed and cry because I still felt like, 'This is so hard, I can't believe I'm going to have to deal with this forever, and he hates me.'
I mean, that's one of the things he would say over and over again, because when children are upset, they use all the language that they can use, right? They're trying to explain their big emotions; and none of this, at the time, I really understood – at least, not practically. I maybe understood it conceptually, but in the moment, I was just so frustrated. I couldn't be thinking logically about that situation.
So again, I did not show up in the greatest way. And so, right off the bat, when I started to shift my expectation and think, 'Okay, maybe this really is his best. Maybe this is like what it's going to be like, what do I want to-- how do I want to show up as a mom?'
The shift happened with me
And I started thinking more about me, and more about how I was showing up. And so, I would try to not agitate the situation. I would make sure that things in his room were safe, like that there was things there. If there was things there that I didn't want to get broken or he could hurt himself with, I would take them out of the room.
And I would just say, 'Okay, I'm here.' And I would just go lay in my room and cry for a long time thinking about how hard it was, and how this was never going to get better, and how difficult the situation was.
But, at least, I wouldn't show up screaming back at his screaming. So, over time, I got a little bit better at this. He would still have the meltdowns. They would still happen several times a day. They would still be just as intense. But the thing that changed was me.
So, instead of screaming back at him and matching his intensity with my intensity, I just would go into another room and calm down, or I would stand beside his door and say, "Okay, I'm right here. Let me know if you want to talk to me."
And, every once in a while, I might open the door to see if he wanted to talk. Usually, he didn't usually it took a long time. But I did notice slight changes over time, which I'll talk about more in the next episode, but this shift all happened with me.
What my story about the situation was
The way that I describe it now to people is like, it's like we were doing this dance, we're doing this Walt dance; and he does this move, and I do this move, and he does this move, and I do this move – and we can just match each other’s moves, and we know what's going to happen.
And that's the way that we had been in this relationship for years. And so, when one person changes the move, then the other person has to change the move as well. So, it started with me, and it took a long time. This wasn't an immediate shift.
And even for me, it wasn't an immediate shift. It took a lot of work to start changing my story about it. Like, 'Okay, maybe this is his best. Maybe this is just how it's going to be for a while. How do I want to show up as a mom?'
I definitely didn't like how I was showing up; and I would feel a lot of guilt and a lot of shame afterwards, myself thinking, you know, 'I'm harming him, this isn't a great situation.' So, I started just doing a lot of thinking about it. At that time, I didn't know anything about mindset work.
How I tried to justify the situation
Later on, I would have words to kind of explain how this happened, but at the time, I would think questions to myself like, 'Maybe this actually is his best, maybe he really is suffering emotionally just this much, maybe we don't know what it is – maybe it was the move, maybe it was leaving his family and friends.' 'I'm sure all of those had to do with it, but maybe this really is just the best way that he can show up right now. Maybe there's something more going on here.'
Like, maybe at that time, we didn't have a diagnosis – we have since then, but at the time we didn't. And so, I was thinking, 'Well, maybe there really is something, maybe there's something here that's happening.'
I also thought, 'Maybe the way that I'm showing up is actually adding to his hurt. Maybe it's really disconnecting us. Maybe it's really-- Maybe he's struggling because of that also.' So, as I started to kind of just mull these things over in my mind, I started to shift how I showed up in those moments.
So, like I said, I would just stand outside his door, I would go lay down in my room, I would just go do something else. I didn't always stay super connected to him in that moment, but I didn't want to cause more harm or more damage.
Why it’s not him that needed to change
And so, that was kind of my goal right there; was like, 'I'm not going to cause more harm or damage here, and what's the way that I can do that? And if it's me locking myself in my room so that I can calm down, then that's what I would do.'
Just doing something to cool myself down, and to get back into my logical thinking brain. One major shift that happened is that I decided to throw teaching out the window.
Now, this might sound crazy to you because you might be thinking, 'Well, no, his behavior isn't okay, and you're not even going to try to make it better.' No, I wasn't going to try to make it better because all of my attempts to try to make it better, in the past, actually, made it worse.
So, I just let go of that entirely; I was not trying to teach him, I was not trying to change his behavior. I just decided to focus, instead, on myself and how I showed up; and secondarily, focus on our connection.
How I changed my approach
So, once I could focus on me and how I showed up, I tried to take time to work on our connection. So, during the day when he was, you know, a little bit more calm or whatever, I would take time to maybe read a book with him.
Maybe I would take him out for the evening, just me and him. Maybe I would let him stay up late a couple nights, and just sit there and chat with him; and listen to him, and have a little bit more conversation with him.
There was little tiny steps, like really micro steps. It could have been something as small as bringing him to the grocery store with me, and not the rest of the children, so that I could spend that one-on-one time just chatting with him.
Nothing there happened that was really big. But over time, I just started to do these little, little, little pieces of connection, and then just change how I was showing up. I didn't try to teach him. I didn't try to change his behavior.
Now, this might sound radical, it might sound crazy; and it might sound like, 'Well, no, you should have done something about that.' But wait until you hear Episode 3, when I talk all about my change; and you'll get to see a little bit about how this worked in the end.
So, even in the midst of his meltdowns: I didn't try to change them, I didn't try to change his behavior, and I didn't try to teach him that what he was doing wasn't acceptable – because when I thought things like, 'this isn't acceptable or he shouldn't be doing this,' then that's when I showed up not my 'best self'.
That's when my 'not great parenting toolbox' got brought out, where I would yell, or be frustrated, or be upset, or just use negative words or language towards him.
How shifting my expectations changed everything for us both
So, I started making those small little shifts in him, and for months – or small, little shifts in me, I should say – and for months, I didn't notice any changes in him at all. And I honestly didn't think the changes would happen. I didn't make these changes for him. I didn't make these changes to change him; I made these changes to change me.
I think that is the biggest teaching point here is that we often want our children's behavior to change. We take all these courses and learn all these things and read all these books, because we're like, 'surely, this will help us have easy children that are fine.'
But at this point, I had just accepted like: he might not be an easy child, and our life might just be difficult, and it might be hard for him. So, how do I want to show up as a mom with this child, who's going to have a hard time?
I definitely was not helping him through his hard time in the way that I was treating him before. So, the shift that happened was 100% with me. And over the course of the next few months, I tried to focus on how I showed up. And secondarily, tried to focus on taking little times to connect with him, get interested in things he was interested in.
I knew a lot about connection-based parenting. And so, I knew a lot of different ways that I could connect and that came naturally to me, but I hadn't really been working on those before.
So, I really tried doing those, and I really tried calming myself down in those moments. And so, big shifts happened with me, over a short period of time, over even the course of a month or two.
But I still was at the point where I didn't see any shifts in him; and I honestly didn't think that anything would change, so I kind of just was resigned to that. I was like, 'That's fine. I'm just going to be able to at least feel good about how I'm showing up most of the time in those situations that definitely not perfect.'
And, that's kind of where we're at; that's where it's going to end. So, I'm going to talk a little bit next episode about the changes that did happen over time. But at this point, I was at least happy about the changes I had made; and how I had been so different in the way that I showed up.
I hope you enjoyed today's episode, make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.