Have you ever found yourself stuck in a negative spiral with your child? Repeatedly responding to them in a way you aren’t proud of, getting more frequently triggered by their behaviour than before? Whenever I find myself stuck in a cycle of poor communication, annoyance, or frustration with my children. Taking a moment to fully put myself in their shoes and understand their world helps meradically reframe my perception of their behaviour.
Because understanding another instantly turns frustration into empathy and compassion
Our Children Want to Feel Heard and Understood
You’ve probably noticed me sharing a lot about the importance of acknowledging our children’s feelings, and meeting our children with sincere empathy. Feeling heard and understood is what our children need to feel safe, secure, connected and balanced. It helps them release built up emotions, accept limits more easily and move on from being stuck in unwanted behaviour. It also helps them process change and move through phases adjustment in healthier way.
So breaking the cycle of impatience and annoyance and move into a place of understanding and compassion towards our children is crucial. and here is a super simple yet powerful exercise that will help you do just that.
Radical Reframe Exercice
To help me get to this place of total reframe I have found it incredibly helpful to sit down and do a specific reframing exercise. I call it “Radical Reframe Exercise” because it truly brings about a radical shift in our perspective towards our little ones.
Here’s how it goes:
Take a moment, close your eyes and imagine you ARE your child.
You think about anything that your child might be thinking, feeling, observing processing at this time in their life.
What are they experiencing? What are they witnessing? What is their environment like right now? What is our families situation?
Simply put: What does their world look like? and how might all that be affecting them.
So the point of this exercise is for the parent to really go there. In their mind. Try to be brutally honest with yourself – try to be true.
You then write all of this down and start painting up a picture of your world as your child, with your child’s voice (this is very important!)
To give you a better picture of what this exercise might look like I’ve decided to pull out from my “notes” and show you MY Radical Reframe Exercise from 2 years ago when I was going through a rough phase with my older daughter Y.
My Radical Reframe Experience:
Just to give you little backstory on what we were going through when I felt the need to sit myself down and “radically reframe”.
We were in Iceland for a 6 week holiday. In the 6 weeks we were in Iceland we stayed in different 4 houses. My older turned 4 early in the trip, there were christmas and new years, and then younger turned 1 and started walking. I had been very busy the whole trip delivering workshops. My husband then had to go back to Singapore to work when there were 3 weeks left of our trip so for the last few weeks I was alone with the kids in Iceland… (yea… sounds pretty insane when you write it out like this, haha)
“It’s hard to have a little brother who is always snatching my toys and destroying the things I’m doing. Mommy sometimes gets frustrated when I don’t let him play or do anything for him. Mommy is on his team.
Mommy always sits close to him, holds him and allows him to sit on her lap, Always when he falls down, hurts himself or bumps into something mommy goes straight to him – and she means it. When I hurt myself or bump into something mommy doesn’t come to me as fast. Or she doesn’t mean it as much when she says “ohh, did you hurt yourself?”
I want mommy to come and cuddle me and hug me the same way she does with my little brother all the time. I’m going to make myself fall or bump into thing for hurt myself so she comes to me right away like she does to B. Or to see if she comes right away or not. I want to mean as much to mom as my little brother. Even though I’m bigger.
I’m annoyed at my little brother even though I love him. I feel like I don’t get to do what I want with him, I only want to play and try to connect! Mommy and daddy always tell me to be careful or they stop me. They interfere. Even when I’m trying to do the right things or be careful. I’m being careful in my own way! I need time to practice.
I sometimes will start to play with him softly but then I also feel like hurting him a little bit, beaches I’m frustrated at him also.
When my little brother does something that makes me upset I hit him. I hit him and sometimes I hit him hard. I also want to kick him or push him. I want to hurt him but I also feel bad when he cries. Mommy is frustrated when I hit my little brother, she becomes disappointed at me, she thinks I’m bad, she doesn’t love me. Mommy is always on Breki’s side and she doesn’t understand that it was HIM who started it, he is always the one who is destroying my things or interrupting me.
Since Breki was born my mom is so much more frustrated and angry at me. It’s all B’s fault. I get sad and hurt when mommy is frustrated or angry at me. I feel lonely when mommy seems disappointed at me or doesn’t understand how I’m feeling or what I’m trying to tell her when I hit B. I’m having a hard time. I can’t stop myself. I need someone who is on my team. Really on my team. B just started walking and everyone os always looking at him and talking about him. I also want ppl to look at me and laugh and smile to me.
It seems really cozy to sit in mommies carrier. I want mommy to also carry me and walk around with me and cuddle me like she does with Breki.
Mommy doesn’t love me as much as she did before Breki came. All B’s fault.
Daddy is no longer at home. He’s gone back to Singapore. I miss daddy.
We have stayed in so many different houses and places during this trip to iecland. We are always moving and I don’t know wher my toys are, or my clothes, they are always in different spots, inside suitcases or just all over the place."
Phew, I tear up when I read this. Once you lay it out like that it all becomes so obvious.
How could I have been so angry at her? How could I have placed all the demands on her to just “behave” and “be good” or whatever it was that my triggered brain was thinking at the time.
How could I have yelled at her and been so impatient?
In the same way as I see it so clearly reading this right now, I remember the exact same feeling after I did the exercise at the time.
I remember looking up from my computer, after having written all of this down. And just staring in front of me. Processing it all, sitting with it, getting it.
It felt like an INSTANT shift in my core. I had gained perspective again. I could feel her again. I could see beyond the behaviour. I saw her. And just as instantly I then was able to meet her in a totally different way.
Compassion, understanding, deep empathy, connection. This exercise provides all the ingredients we need to repair any rifts in our relationships with our children and get back into flow.
And that simply changes everything.
From the heart,