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A collection of stories, insights, pain and laughter that details our lives, our experiences as women and mothers and the wisdom that comes out of that.

3 ways to transform challenging behaviour in your kids

Bridget Wood

As mothers, the catch-cry ‘Is it wine time yet?!’ kinda goes with the territory some days, but if we’re going around in circles in a challenging dynamic with our kids, it’s not just about them – there’s some ownership needed.

1.     Recognise the Universe inside you
When things are going awesome in our lives, and things just seem to divinely appear, we love to bow down to the magnificence of the Universe for guiding the way. Conversely, how much have you sat with the fact that when the Universe continues to deliver, but in ways that we don’t want, there is also divinity at play? The great mystic and poet, Rumi, said ‘You are the Universe in ecstatic motion’, which essentially means that we are creating everything. Perhaps we are all manifesting our own Universes and momentarily (at least in Universal Time) get to circle in the orbit of one another’s, giving the illusion that there is one singular reality. It’s humbling to ponder. Regarding our kids, they are acting in ways that are assisting our growth, even if it might be challenging. The perception we have of them, is informed by our own beliefs, triggers and values, and the bigger the ‘story’ we have, the bigger, in our perception at least, the challenge we’re being invited to work through.
Get curious when you feel a familiar feeling arise in you and ask yourself – what happened immediately before I became aware of this feeling? When have I felt this before? What does this remind me of? What is it asking me to face within myself?
When we begin to ask questions about what’s going on for us, we get a glimpse of the co-creation at play between us and our children, and in the relationships with those around us. We have the opportunity to shrink away from the pain it’s bringing us, or lean into it and choose a new story. It’s not what happens to us, but how we perceive it, that decides our experience of life.

2.     Identify the trigger
What is it that sees you go from calm and centred to wild and angry? That you always just seem to get (sometimes irrationally) frustrated with? Or maybe there’s a big wound or source of pain you keep getting pulled into with your kids? It’s no coincidence that it keeps pushing your buttons – it’s there for you to learn from. Usually it’s roots are buried deep in your own childhood. Take my friend Sally; she grew up with a father who lavished love through food, and a mother who was enormously judgemental about food, weight, and appearance. Who still serves her adult boys big slices of cake, and the women in the family, a small sliver each. Sally is deeply challenged by the judgement her mother directs to her four-year-old daughter about her eating, and food choices, and wants her daughter to have a much more balanced approach to food.  We got talking about our kids and what they eat, and Sally mentioned her daughter seems to want to eat all the time, but she’s getting her to focus on meal times rather than eating whenever she wants. As we pulled apart ‘why’ this is a problem for Sally – what would happen if she actually did just let her daughter follow her appetite and eat when she’s hungry, Sally realised that what was playing out in the dynamic with her daughter was actually related to the issues with her mother. She was perceiving her daughter’s food habits as a problem because of her own story and emotional triggers. Filtering her perceptions to conform to a long-held story – to ‘keep safe’ the beliefs instilled in her, even though they are uncomfortable. Finding the ‘space in between’ the trigger, and the emotional response, is our opportunity to re-pattern our own experiences coded in our brain, and choose a new path for us and our children.

3.     If you spot it, you’ve got it!
Carl Jung, the famed psychologist, coined the term ‘The Mirror’, which means that we can see nothing in the people around us, that isn’t also within us. Most of the time, we are either to proud, or too humble to admit that was we see in others, we have in us, just in a different form that we haven’t brought light to. Our most ‘disowned parts’ we tend to breed in our children, to get us to love those parts of ourselves – because no matter how painful it gets, we will always love our children. How profound is this incredible design that’s leading us back to love. To wholeness. To oneness.
Next time you find yourself getting frustrating at your child thinking in your head, ‘they’re just so…’ or ‘I wish they would just….’, ask yourself where you also display the same trait you are finding difficult to witness in them. Sit with the idea that you are only seeing this, and being frustrated by this, in order to face it within yourself.

You can still have the wine, and the vent, and let off steam in whatever way you need, but developing the curiosity to understand what your world is trying to teach you; what your children are seeking to shift in you, brings a richness to mothering like no other.

If you would like to integrate these tools more powerfully into your life, explore our online programs Aligned Parenting and Loathing To Loving 

Bridget Wood is Co-Founder of Nourishing The Mother and a lover of life and connecting people to themselves through wisdom, introspection and quality questions. Bridget is also the Director and Events Manager of Suburban Sandcastles. With an insatiable appetite for knowledge and a desire to understand the bigger picture of human behaviour and how the world works, Bridget is on an inspired path to learn more deeply who we are beyond the limitations that we, and our society and culture, place upon upon us.