Does Your Child Frustrate You?
You know those times when you want your child to do something and he or she just doesn’t? So you say it again, and then you get louder and more irritated and each time you look that thing still hasn’t been done and you feel that anger and pain rising up in you that you are so unimportant that your child can’t even do this thing you ask of them which they KNOW needs to be done…. You land up shouting at them to do it, or being rude to them, or handling them too roughly or nagging and nagging…
Someone recently told me her daughter said, “Mom don’t rash me all the time.” Rash, you know, like something irritating right on your skin… So that’s how it feels from their side when we really want them to do something they’re not doing. We are ‘rashing’ them.
Don’t pull your hair out just yet in frustration and from the insult of being called a rash just because you want to get things done and the house to be neat and the kids fed and fetched and carried on time. Let’s first have a look at why we might feel so frustrated at those times and why they might resist what we ask of them.
An adult and a child have very different takes on the world. We see the overall picture – all the many things that need to be done, all the balls that have to be kept in the air – by us. It’s our job to rush and catch and throw those balls over and over. But to do this well, one needs free space to move around in, right? If you need to suddenly lunge for a ball, for example, you can’t have a little person standing there in the way where you have to be careful not to hurt them or something. That will throw you off your game. You’ll drop a ball. You’ll do it wrong. You’ll fail. “No little people underfoot please” is what we’d like to say. “You need to co-operate so I can get this done right.”
Your child on the other hand, tends to be involved with what is happening to them in the moment. The bigger picture is a far-off thing, but this book, this hamster, this booger in my nose, that is right here right now and I want to explore it. It’s so interesting. A faint sound from beyond the realm of Now brings vague awareness to that place outside of Right Here. Never mind that, I’m busy with this thing. Sink back in. Someone being called. Like waking up from a dream state, awareness slowly emerging from deep down. What woke me up? Huh? What? What is she saying? Get up? Brush my teeth and get ready for bed? Huh? No, no. Sink down again into that dream-like state of the activity. All of me in it. So rich. No appeal at all in leaving this and doing that other thing…Ugh! She’s interrupting me!
So you see, even though you can see that if he doesn’t go to bed now he will be tired in the morning, to him morning is another planet and bed is fine, but he is deeply involved with something – even if to you it looks like he’s not doing anything ‘worthwhile’.
Your child’s reality and your’s live side by side. You have your point of view and your child has hers. Both are valid. One thing is not more important than the other thing.
If you try to remember this different reality thing, your communication will probably be a lot easier. Kim Payne calls it Your World, My World, Our World. First acknowledge where the child is (You seem to be building something. Tell me about it?) and listen to what they tell you, then inform of where you are (I’ve been cooking supper), then make the connection of the two with your request and a bit of time for them to fully surface from their involvement (In five minutes we all need to wash our hands and come to the table to eat).
If you often feel frustrated when you are blocked by your child from things going the way you like check in with yourself: Do I often interrupt my child when he’s busy? Do I come up close to him and speak with respect or do I call out my request from across the room while I’m busy with something else? Is it important to me to get things done right, to be presentable, to catch all the balls? Do I feel like my child is slowing me down with this? When my child doesn’t obey me does it ever make me feel I am unimportant / don’t have worth / not really loved enough by my child…?
If the frustration is really from your own fears, getting angry with your child won’t make you feel better. Rather talk to yourself lovingly and reassuringly when you feel that way. It’s amazing how healing good communication can be.
How do you manage your frustration?