The way kids react and respond after they make mistakes or mess up is in response to how they are dealing with the emotion of their failure. Unfortunately, most kids have no idea how to deal with mistakes a healthy way and they literally beat themselves up on the inside.
Beating Themselves up Emotionally
Imagine for a second you were injured in a fall and bruised your ribs. The next morning you would be sore and it would be hard to move. After some aspirin and moving around you regain some flexibility and are able to move better. The next day you begin healing and feel a little better each following day.
UNLESS each morning you get up and hit yourself in the ribs. Then what would happen; the bruise would actually get worse, more pain would result and it could not heal.
This is what I find at work with a majority of the children I coach. They are beating themselves up. Where parents say they just keep making the same mistakes and do not understand why they are not trying I find that the children are trying and do not understand their repeated issues either.
In virtually every instance I find these children are down on themselves and in effect beating themselves up emotionally so they never heal. When ones ribs are bruised they are very tender. Simply touching or poking them results in a disproportionate amount of pain.
This is what I find happening in so many children lives. The bad behavior, kids parents are frustrated with, are a result of these areas of pain that when poked result in a strong reaction. Afterwards both the parents and the children are frustrated with the behavior and the child is once again punching themselves in the ribs trying to make the behavior stop. A lost cause.
Coaching the Parents
In my coaching I rarely find parents who are conscious of this cycle. They on the surface believe their child is not trying and are exerting more pressure to help them bring about change. The problem is that this pressure is actually poking those sore ribs resulting in the reactions and bad behavior.
I also find that the parents, when asked are subconsciously aware that their children are down on themselves. What they do not realize is that their children are actually beating themselves up.
What to do to Help
In this situation children need someone to ask them if they get mad, frustrated or down on themselves when the behavior happens and believe their response. (Read the blog: Why It Is Essential to avoid Labeling our Kids, to understand the importance of believing our children.) These children need someone to help them see the futility of beating themselves up because if it continues they will never heal and will keep overreacting and being defensive.
This is the reason Revive Family developed our Influential Parenting series to help parents perceive, target and work below the surface with our kids. Instead of poking at the behavior we have seen amazing results when parents target the hearts and root of the issue rather then poking at the behavior.
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