I love the wee ones. I truly do. But there are times when they drive me bananas because seriously, how is it 7:30am and you are sitting upstairs in your bed reading when I asked you to get dressed and come to eat breakfast ages ago and we do this every day, so why is it so hard? Mister Man’s autism is a part of him, but I see so much more than that, and it breaks my heart when I see him do things that make him stand out to others or just don’t work in the “real world.”
And maybe I’m not the best parent out there. I don’t live through my children. Their successes are not mine. I don’t push them to be the best and brightest and fastest and strongest, though I do have expectations for them. Little Miss is on the gymnastics team even though she sometimes complains about it not because I want to have a kid who’s exceptional but because she’s good at it and enjoys it and only wants to not do it because it gets hard and she gets frustrated when she isn’t the best, but those are lessons in life she needs to learn. You won’t always be the best, but you have to take pride in what you do while not comparing yourself to others. And when the going gets tough? We do not quit. Then again, when she masters a new skill, she beams and loves it and can’t wait to go back.
But oh there are things I wish I could change about the wee ones sometimes. I know I can’t, but that doesn’t stop the wanting sometimes. Enter the book Raise the Child You’ve Got Not the One You Want: Why Everyone Thrives When Parents Lead with Acceptance by Nancy Rose. This book has been a godsend to me. It’s allowed me to take a step back and separate my children from their behaviors and then focus on the things I can change.
My conversations have been smoother with the wee ones, and focused more on understanding them while clarifying what they can and cannot do. It’s turned into Mister Man, we need to get your homework done. I know you get distracted by your sister’s homework questions, but in order for you to have time to play later, we need to focus on what you’re doing, not what she’s doing. And his frustration level goes down. Or Little Miss, I know you love to bounce and sing, but when it’s dinnertime, you need to stay sitting down at the table while we eat. Let’s have a singing party once we’ve finished eating. And she smiles and sits.
Does it always work? Nope. Sometimes I lose myself in the moment. And sometimes they’re too far gone before I step in, but it’s steps in the right direction. Lucky me, I got to ask Nancy Rose some questions about her book and her philosophy.
How do you describe in a few sentences the concept leading with acceptance to parents who aren’t familiar with it?
In leading with acceptance, acceptance of who a child is the starting point in parenting. This creates a strong parent/child connection. Then, the parent is the leader who teaches the child how to be effective in the world, while being exactly who they are.
Recognizing strengths and passions is important, but so is getting out of your comfort zone and stretching sometimes. How do you know when it’s enough and not too much for a child?
Leading with acceptance doesn’t mean hands-off parenting. Parents must lead! It means not trying to change things about your child that you can’t change. If your son is low activity, accept it, and don’t force him into soccer or other extracurriculars where running around is required. But since keeping fit is important, give him choices on how to do so. Perhaps hiking is more his speed, so you might have a family hike on weekends, and give him the job of walking the dog during the week.
How late is too late to change our parenting and learn to accept the child we have?
If you have a relationship with your child, it’s never to late to lead with acceptance! Obviously, the earlier parents understand and accept who their child is the better it is for the child and the parent/child relationship. The wonderful thing about the power of acceptance, though, is that it can go a long way in healing previously difficult relationships. I healed with my mom as an adult, and we are deeply connected even though we were not while I was growing up. I often hear, “Well, it’s too late for my kid!” but it’s not!
What is the first piece of advice you’d give a parent of a difficult child to help the child become the best version of who they are?
The first step is to understand your child’s CoreSelf. In the book, you can read about the Nine Traits of the CoreSelf, which are the traits we are born with that aren’t going to change much over our lifetime. You can instantly download a free report on my website www.nancyjrose.com that has clear examples of each of the levels of the Nine Traits of the CoreSelf.
How do you differentiate between what feels like nagging for relatively critical things (please don’t pick your nose, you need to do your homework, eat with your fork not your fingers) and accepting your child so they don’t feel picked on?
It’s really important to remember that accepting who your child is does not mean accepting bad behavior. It’s our job as parents to teach our kids the proper way to behave, and we do this through effective leadership. If your kids don’t listen to you, and you find yourself nagging or constantly on their case, take a look at the leadership toolbox to see if you can be a more effective parent leader.
During one of my workshops, a parent asked what to do about her “lazy” 15-year-old son. I asked her to describe the “lazy” behavior, and she told how he stayed in his room playing video games and ignored her requests to take the trash out or set the table. None of that relates to his CoreSelf traits and should be accepted. Instead, it’s about the lack of standards, clear communication, accountability, and clearly defined consequences…in other words mom needed to step up and lead.
Intrigued? I know I was, and I’m so glad I read this book. Nancy Rose also appeared on the Today Show to talk about her book. You can learn more about Nancy Rose on her website, and receive a free copy of The Key to Understanding Your Child: The Nine Traits of the CoreSelf. She is of course on Twitter and Facebook.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that I’m giving away a copy of her book? One lucky reader will win a copy of Raise the Child You’ve Got Not The One You Want. Just enter via the Rafflecopter below and follow the instructions!