Validating Negativity

Adoption

Right now, BC is driving me crazy. His behavior and listening skills are lacking and he doesn’t seem to have much empathy. (Now that I think about it, BE had about zero empathy at his age too, but that’s certainly not the case anymore.)

I haven’t found a solution, and it’s particularly challenging because he’s not really old enough to express what he’s feeling.

A reader question in the monthly Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control (BCLC) newsletter helped to give me some more insight. The situation wasn’t really the same, but Heather Forbes’ answer gave me a few ideas. Here’s the question:

My 8-year-old son ‘hates’ everything: the particular car driving down the street, the shirt I’m wearing, the kid next door, the color of the living room, the cashier at the grocery store, etc., etc. I am having trouble understanding this and how to deal with it. Any insights?”

Here are excerpts of Heather’s response:

“A child who ‘hates’ everything is a child in a perpetual state of fear and dysregulation. His neurophysiological system has been programmed to see the world as half empty instead of half full …

“Validate his negativity instead of trying to convince him of something more positive. ‘You really do hate this shirt. Wow. Help me understand how much you hate it. Tell me more.’ As he expresses himself, help him shift into the feelings behind these words. (It’s really not about the shirt.) ‘How does that make you feel? …’

“When you can help him to move into this core area within himself by listening, validating, maximizing, tolerating, accepting, and staying present with him, you’ll be there in relationship to guide him towards feeling safe and loved. Thus, you’ll be able to guide him to see that the world is good and hope does exist. It will take positive repetitious conditioning to do this for him.”

Ok, so BC doesn’t say he hates everything, but the advice about affirming his feelings and asking questions was very helpful. Because he’s only 5, I don’t think it will make a big difference right away, but I’m hoping it will set us on a good path for the future.

If you have any advice for me, please let me know!

How to Give up Complaining

Adoption

I recently committed to give up complaining. I was recently at a meeting of local women writers, and we were asked to share one thing that we could give up. Actually, we were asked to spend some time considering a list of 15 items, and then choose just one that we would commit to focus on. Many of us, including me, could easily have selected more than one, but “give up complaining” really stood out for me.

People who know me probably wouldn’t say that I have a big problem with this. But, that’s only because I rarely share my negative thoughts. Here’s how the list described “give up complaining:”

“Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.”

In my head, I often complain about my kids’ behavior. I often allow them to control my mood and my attitude. Unfortunately, this is just the opposite of what I tell them to do. If they’re upset about something, I remind them that they can’t control anyone else, only themselves.

So, as the year goes on, I’ll be putting a lot of energy in into improving my own attitude.