When we feel better, we behave better

Posted by Samantha on February 28, 2011 in Feelings, Guilt, Hope |

Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse? Think of the last time you felt humiliated or treated unfairly. Did you feel like cooperating or doing better?

Dr Jane Nelson, US child development expert and positive discipline advocate


There’s a direct link between how children feel and how they behave: when children feel good, they behave well; when children feel bad, they behave badly.  So to help children behave better you need to help them to feel better.

But the really interesting thing for me today is that this connection between our behaviour and our emotions DOESN’T STOP when we become adults.  The connection between how we feel and what we do is the same for us parents as it is for our children.

This is why it is imperative that we ditch the guilt about ourselves as parents that often lurks unspoken – but keenly and painfully felt – in the recesses of our minds:  Are we doing enough for them?  Are we doing too much for them?  Do THEY do too much?  Or not enough?  Do they eat the right stuff?  Do they watch to much TV?  Have they enough friends?  The right friends?  It’s exhausting.  And it’s pointless.

In fact, this guilt is not just pointless, it’s counter-productive.

Feeling bad about myself as a parent won’t help me to be a better one.  It’ll just make me feel bad.  Then most likely all that bad feeling will come out sideways: I’ll be cross with my kids, I’ll be snippy with my partner, I’ll moan about the state of the nation and why the weather sucks at half term!

You are NOT a bad parent.  You are doing your best with the information and awareness you have at this moment.  It’s a FACT – every single one of us is doing the very best we can at all times.  So put down the big stick and give yourself a break.  It’s exhausting beating yourself up all the time.

Get in the bath.  Sit down and just take a rest.  Light a candle and read a book.  Forget the ironing.  Snuggle up with your kids on the sofa and watch a movie you’ll all enjoy.  And when the nasty little Guilt Gremlin comes up and starts telling you that you don’t have time for this, well invite that Gremlin to sit down with you.

Give the Guilt Gremlin the night off.  You’ll feel better for it.  And then you’ll DO better too.


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