help4yourfamily

Create the family you want to have

Naming Patterns Changes Patterns

written by, Kate Oliver, LCSW-C 

Update: I’ve been on hiatus from writing for a while and I return with good news.  I’ve been asked to contribute a couple of chapters to the new Kinship Parenting Toolbox, scheduled to be released in Fall of 2013. For updates on the upcoming book you can “like” the Facebook page: TheKinshipParentingToolbox .

It can be hard to break old routines. Do you ever find yourself doing the same habitual complaining, arguing, nagging or run around? One way to break the pattern is to name it and even insert a little humor. It only took my husband and I the first ten years of our marriage to figure this one out. It is rare for us to travel without each other. It happens maybe once or twice a year. At some point one of us figured out that whenever we were traveling without the other we got into an argument the night before over nothing I can remember. We always parted annoyed. I can’t remember who figured it out but during one such argument one of us happened to say something along the lines of, “Do we always have to fight before one of us leaves?” Hmmm. We got curious for a minute and figured out the pattern. Instead of digging into our old routine, we changed it up a bit. When it happened again (yes it happened again). One of us said, “Oh, this is the part where we fight because you’re leaving tomorrow.” It completely took the wind out of the sails of that fight. We actually laughed. We were arguing because we love each other and were going to miss each other’s company. Getting curious about the ritual and finding a loving meaning behind it, rather than sitting alone in angry confusion helped us to get past it and even laugh about it. Naming what is really going on behind a tiff is now a regular ritual for my husband and I. It makes our marriage happier and stronger. We laugh a lot.

We can do this with children too. Instead of winding into the same old argument, put on a silly voice, I prefer Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh

Eeyore as depicted by Disney

Eeyore as depicted by Disney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and say, “Oh dear, this is where I ask you to put your shoes on and you tell me you don’t know where they are and wait for me to find them.”

Shake your head and dramatically cry out, “Why must I daily be plagued by missing shoes?!?!” (Think over-dramatic Lady Violet from Downton Abbey if you are a fan).

downton-abbey-episode-7

downton-abbey-episode-7 (Photo credit: Evian Tsai)

The typical response of children is to look at you like you have three heads, then start looking for the shoes during this fun game you just started. The trick is, if you are going to be dramatic, be really over the top.

Of course you can do it in a slightly more serious way, like my husband and I did. But with kids, I like dramatic, silly, “out crazy the crazy” as Christine Moers says. She speaks about it in relation to traumatized and attachment disordered children but I see it work with all children and, quite honestly, it’s just more fun than being so darn serious all the time. I mean, don’t you ever get tired of the tit for tat stuff that goes on in your home? You know, the “you did this so now I have to do that” stuff between you and the other members of your household or between siblings? Next time you see a pattern you’re tired of, go ahead and try naming it. Start with checking your tone to make it silly or light and say something like “This is when we…” or “This is the part where I usually…” or “Oh, I think I know what’s going on here. We’ve done this before! This is where…”

Let me know how it works!

Related links:

The Perils of Perfectionism in Parenting (help4yourfamily.com)

Laugh and Your Family Laughs With You (help4yourfamily.com)

Parent Affirmation Monday- Curious (help4yourfamily.com)

August 8, 2013 - Posted by | affirmations, attachment disorder, child development, children, counseling, family, help for parents, parent support/ self improvement, Parenting, psychology, relationship issues

1 Comment »

  1. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow! My problem is that I’m too serious – I often say that I don’t have a sense of humor.

    Comment by shannon2818 | September 4, 2013 | Reply


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