I got parenting advice once from a child therapist that I have found incredibly useful in my own person life. Like…it helps me parent myself.
Once a child therapist talked about how – if you’re kids are making dramatic proclamations like, “Everyone hates me!” or “You love my sibling more than me!” that your instinct is wrap your arms around them and tell them you love them and that’s not true but – that’s not an effective response. The effective response is to say something like, “That is not true, so let’s find some statements that are true.” Especially if you know the truths that are rooted in their proclamations. Like, “I don’t have as many friends as I’d like.” Or, “Right now I want some attention from you, Mom, and you’re givig it to my sibling instead.”
And then, to go even further and find truths that counter those dramatic proclamations like, “William wants to be my friend.” (Because often there are friends, just maybe not the popular kids etc.) Or, “You and I did have fun going to the park together yesterday,” because often there is proof of parenting quality time, they just choose to forget it when they’re feeling left out.
ANYWAY…I have found all of this also useful with the efforts I’ve been making to counter my programming around my body image.
When I walk past a mirror and think, “Oh my god, my face looks so old and ugly.” I stop and tell myself: That is not true. And I force myself to find truths under that statement. Truths: I am aging. But wrinkles are not ugly. That is a message from the beauty cream industry that only is profitable if we are programmed to think wrinkles are ugly.
This conscious reset works with kids AND WITH YOURSELF. And more importantly…it become a more natural response that you don’t have to force upon yourself. That’s the goal with kids is that you do this Truth Reset enough with them that when they think those untrue dramatic thoughts, they do the reset in their own brains to look for underlying truths. And I have notice my brain is more quick to do that on it’s own lately. I don’t have to stop myself as much and walk myself through those truth searches.
When I try on something and it doesn’t fit anymore and I find myself thinking, Ugg…I’ve gained so much wait and I’m now fat and ugly and…But my brain immediately resets and starts reminding myself that my body is aging and my metabolism is adjusting and I’m not counting calories anymore and all of these things will result in weight gain which is not inherently bad. This is just something I’ve been programmed to believe by the diet industry which would go out of business if everybody didn’t hate themselves for gaining weight.
It’s just an interesting thought game that I have found effective with parenting AND with counter-programming self-hatred. And not just for body image talk. It’s also good for negative parenting talk like, I’m not as good of a Mom as my sister-in-law. You stop and you find actual TRUTHS you can reset with. I’m a different Mom. There is no actual rating system for parenting. We all have different struggles and we respond in different ways and what is important is that I love my kids and do the best I can in every moment.
I just thought I’d share! My negative talk got kind bad when my anxiety and depression was spiraling and I found these parenting tools really useful with myself.