Watch Your Labels
“Why are you bad?” “You’re awful?” “Nice move, genius!” “You’re destructive!” “You act just like…”
As parents, one of the most difficult transitions is to move from labeling our child as the action they demonstrate. We’ve all been there. Whether it’s breaking a favorite household item, destroying a valuable treasure or even causing physical harm to someone else. Our sugar will either participate or be the ring leader of an action that may lead to an opportunity for us as world changers to react negatively.
The labels we attach to our sugars can have a long lasting effect on how they perceive themselves and the world around them. As tempting as it is to label them according to their behavior, we have to learn how to resist and instead label the action. It is simply the difference between saying “you’re bad” versus “pulling the dog’s tail is not okay.” It is the difference between sowing life, death, and esteem into our sugars lives. It is the difference between fixing an unacceptable behavior versus attaching a negative connotation to our sugar.
It even comes down to the nicknames we place on our sugars. An endearing nickname with a negative connotation can have a lasting impression. I know this all sounds crazy and extreme, but trust you-me, I’ve heard adults contend with names that were placed over their lives as children. After hearing it so many times, they start to believe it. It’s unfortunate, but it is true.
And don’t get me wrong, we’ve all been there. My sugars have placed me in positions time and time again where their actions were absolute garbage! All the patience from the heavens and earth had to restrain me from reacting negatively to their action. However, I understand the life that comes along with labels and quickly had to recalibrate my words to express anger, discipline, and correction without leaving behind the residue of a negative label.
So...here is our honest moment. World changers, we cannot move forward without honesty and we cannot correct our behavior without transparency. We have to take some serious action steps together to debunk this myth that our children are the behavior versus their action simply well…sucks!
Yep, I said their action “sucks.” In my days, I heard way worse, so “sucky behavior” is pretty mild for me.
By the way, you may be wondering...what defines “sucky behavior?” It is anything that is contrary to the rules, parameters, or directions provided to all parties under 18 years old in your house. That means, in order to label anything as “sucky behavior” some parameters had to first be established. So that’s step one, if you have not already done so, establish some general rules. We generally abide by the Golden Rule in our house, “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” That pretty much covers a lot, but there is always some grey area, or some savvy sugar who tries to push, pull, test, tug, challenge, or debate the limits.
That’s when step two comes in…establishing democracy or dictatorship. Our job as world changers is to prepare our sugars for life outside of our house. Popularity does not always win. This does not give a green light for us to go extreme dictator, but this does mean we have to find the balance. Some behaviors are simply unacceptable no matter what. Some actions are simply accidents. Some kiddos (especially kiddos who were like me) love to explore and the outcomes are, well…disastrous. You have to understand the kind of kid you have in order to know when to flex democracy, dictatorship, or provide an alternative outlet to meet their needs. Once that is established, it will become easier over time to understand the behavior and how to address it appropriately.
Step three…you’re going to love this one…your sugar may be challenging you. Let’s shake our heads together. My daughter who I love and cherish is infamous for this one. She challenges EVERYTHING! And when I say EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING (Apples and trees y’all…she is her mother’s child)! After exercising frustration, discipline, mind games, punishments, strategies, tears, and all of the above, I finally tried something different. Peaceful confrontation. I confront her with the action and ask, “what do you need?” This may sound cheesy…but it does not always come out cheesy. It’s usually when I’ve exhausted everything else, I finally look at her and ask “what do you really want from me?” She thinks, and then tells me. Sometimes, she’ll say, “I’ll get back to you,” and the challenges, behaviors and actions stop. Sometimes, behaviors are your sugars plea to say, “hey, get out of your world and come hang out with me.” Sometimes, they want to challenge your authority to decide if you plan on being consistent. Sometimes, it is an underlying issue that they cannot quite articulate. Whatever it is, take the time to tune in. Remember, you have boundaries and rules for a reason. Use them, but get to the heart of the matter.
This lead us to our final step world changer…reflect…take the time to reflect about how you were labeled as a child. No, I’m not taking on the psychologist role…that’s not my scene…but reflect if this was the norm in your house when you were growing up? Did it impact your perception? Self-esteem? Relationships? It is difficult to change a behavior if we don’t understand the root cause. If we understand the root cause, than we can get on the path to fix it, alter it, change it or whatever we need to do in order to manipulate it where we are identifying a “sucky action” versus placing a negative label on our child.
World changers, you are remarkable people with remarkable abilities. You have the power to change the trajectory of your sugars life with your actions and words. Let’s keep building our sugars up so they can fully live out their purpose in this world with zeal! I know you can do this.
Until we meet again. Take care…C