Fear based parenting drives you to be controlling, to pull the reins in, to be that “proactive” parent who’s making sure their toddler/child/teen isn’t going to grow into a drug addict or drunk like your mother/father/grandarent/brother/sister did. It’s attaching another person’s story to your child that looks at what’s happened in the past or a worry about the future. It completely ignores the present moment, the child and their needs. It pushes you to take control in a way that disconnects you from your child. It leaves you doubting yourself and worrying about what’s going to happen next.
Will it get worse? Will they be more angry at you? Manipulative or defiant? Yes, they will. Your controlling is creating that. Your anger pushes them away.
You’re missing the cause of the behaviour and instead treating the symptom. So your child’s need is still unmet, still ignored, because you haven’t liked how they’ve gone about getting it. As you continue to treat their behaviour as sign of future problems or worse, a personal attack on you and everything you’re trying to do for them, you continue to miss out on finding the real reason why they are behaving this way. As you continue to use power to control or defeatism /victimisation as a way to manipulate them into your idea of what they should be, you shut them down and create a place of distrust between the two of you. You resent them, they resent you.
This esculates for a number of years as you try to mold them and then, come teen or tween years, they begin to lie more elaborately and hide their behaviour from you…
until one day…
you get the biggest shock of your life…..
Your child either lashes out at you or someone else or themselves (self harm) or worse, they get themselves into a situation that you have no control over, no strategy to avoid it, and they are hurt badly.
If you’re on this bandwagon, I hope that you read this and stop. If you’re that controlling and fearful parent, who maybe sees the worst in their child, or imagines because your child acts or has mannerisms of another family member (who has anger, drug, alcohol or other issues) that your child will too… then stop.
Stop controling behaviour and start connecting to your child.
Parenting programs that focus on behaviour modification are based in fear. Fear that they child is out of control and needs to be reined in. They focus on the behaviour and not the child and don’t strengthen the connection.. Unfortunately this form of parenting/behaviour management has been encouraged for years and it’s wrong.
Even the child protection services know that now. Recently I met about 50 of them at a training intensive and they told me that there is a swing away from behaviour management because it damages the relationship even further and creates a manipulative, angry and avoidant child.
We need to focus on the child, the present moment and build connection. It’s only through connection, seeking to understand their needs, that we can help the child learn natural consequences and ways to meet their needs that work for the whole family. It’s also a way for you to truly see and appreciate your child as an individual and not a mini you/other parent/other relative. It’s a way for you to appreciate their strengths and not focus on your fears around their potential flaws.
When you’re in connection with your child you don’t take their behaviour as a personal attack, you see it as a way to seek what they want and an opportunity to teach them about relationships, empathy and problem solving. When your child is in overwhelm, you can remain connected and help them to calm down instead of isolating them in time out. You can help them regulate their emotions because you are right there with them and being calm, kind and yet stronger and wiser. You’re being the adult, the parent and the teacher.
Initially it may take some time and loads of unlearning and some learning more effective strategies to help you. It will also take self awareness to notice when you fall back into fear based parenting. The more awareness, the more conscious efforts to understand their needs, your needs and how to meet them, the easier this job of parenting becomes. You will find your family dynamic will change, flow naturally and support and connection will be used daily, minimising the out bursts, meltdowns and push backs. Your children will want to naturally help you, without coercion. They will come to understand you more and even empathise with you when you need it.
You just need to get past your fear.
Fear of change…
Fear of the lack of control (which was always an illusion)…
When you’re ready, you can learn how to do this…
Become a conscious parent
Understand a child’s need
Understand how to lead, model and teach them how to be in this world.
It’s so satisfying, loving and amazing when you’re in that space. Trust me, I’ve tried both…. I’m not going back to controlling… ever!