How To Parent – What’s Your Meaning?

Our perceptions of our kids affect their behaviour.  If we believe we have troublesome, moody or difficult children, or that they are going through a ‘difficult’ phase then they will pick up on that and it will lead to resentment, it will also affect how we treat them.  In the next of this ‘How To Parent‘ series,  I talk about the meaning we give to our childrens actions and the choice we have to change it.

In every moment of your life you are placing unconcious meanings on peoples behaviour.  Your partner, your family, friends, co workers, the cashier at the supermarket.  Everything they do, from a certain look to a deep and meaningful conversation, you are giving it a meaning that you are probably not even aware of most of the time.  The meaning you are placing on these experiences is dramatically affecting the way you relate to people, your kids included.

Let me give you an example, if your partner has been doing long hours at work and he’s tired when he gets home, sits on the couch and falls asleep,  you may believe him to be not focusing enough attention on you and the kids, avoiding you or not helping out enough around the house.  On the other hand, you may chose to make his behaviour mean that he has been out all day working hard becuase he is dedicated to earning a good living to provide for the family and do his part, and is just in need of a little ‘down time’ when he comes home.

Looking at these two meanings that we can give to his behaviour, how would you react to him in each case?  In the first example, would you be on edge or moody with him yourself, maybe trying to ‘win’ in the battle of who ‘works’ harder and who needs rest?  Now think about the 2nd example, maybe you’d go out of your way to make sure you were taking care of his needs and to make him know you apprieciate him.  That’s two very different reactions from you to the same behaviour from your partner.  All dependant on the meaning you are placing on it…..

Its the same with our kids…..

Your three year old starts screaming and throwing toys around the room again.  You have a CHOICE.  You could make it mean that they are being difiant, difficult, moody, tantruming, rude or ill behaved, this naturally would make you angry.  Make you think things like; how dare she, I’ve just cleaned up, he shouldn’t shout like that, there’s no need etc etc.  What kind of behaviour and emotions are you going to have toward your child with this meaning?

Or, you could make it mean that they have some needs that aren’t getting met and they don’t know how else to let you know.  Maybe they tried telling you but they aren’t fully able to verbalise it, or don’t really understand what it is they need or feel.    This naturally would make you want to find out what it is they need, creating a space of empathy.  It may make you think things like, are they tired, frustrated with something they need my help with, or do they need some loving attention?  What kind of behaviour and emotions are you going to have toward your child with this meaning?

I bet they are pretty different.

The meanings we give play and a powerful and important part in our lives.  What meaning or labels are you giving to your children and to their behaviour?  How does that meaning make you act and how does it make you feel towards them?

Notice this week where you can create more positive meanings to peoples behaviour around you.  Notice how it changes the way you act towards them, and in turn changes their reaction towards you.  :)

Would love to hear your comments below and remember to share this with your friends on facebook or twitter!




Emma Combes

Emma helps parents overcome the automatic negative reactions that are stopping them from parenting consciously and with love through her coaching practice. She also helps parents live the most awesome life in all areas, so they can know they were the best role model they could be for their children.

  • Elizabeth

    Very well said! 

    • Emma Combes @ Consciousmama

      Thanks Elizabeth!  :)