We all reframe, whether we know it or not. We couldn’t possibly voice out loud all the things going on inside our head without a filter!
I think of a reframe as a CHOICE. A choice to ‘respond’ or a choice to ‘react’.
Reframing takes awareness, practice and self-regulation. The beauty of reframing with your child, is you can choose to connect and communicate to your child in an effective, respectful and trustworthy manner. Picture this… you walk into the room and your child has used your make-up to draw all over your walls. Your child is covered in lipstick and has smeared your $80 moisturiser through her hair. In that moment you have thoughts and emotions flooding through your system. In that moment you can choose to check in with a shift of perspective and reframe to deal with the situation in a calm and connected manner or you can choose to explode. Reframing helps you to focus on cultivating response-able children and to stay connected to your child in the challenging times – theirs and yours.
The language and the words we choose to use with children go a long way to nurture in them a growth mindset of optimism and resilience. The ability to turn their (and your) attitude around and overcome obstacles and setbacks.
Reframing helps children to change old ways of thinking by substituting new empowering habits, thoughts or words, for old disempowering habits, thoughts and words. We all get caught up in old habits and phrases that fit like a comfy pair of shoes, or take on other people’s negativity. Sometimes it’s fine to use an old phrase, however I think we all know the feeling when we say things reactively, or on automatic pilot, and they don’t serve us and now, as parents, they don’t serve our child. Words or sayings repeated over and over again could be a trigger or a cue for your child to take them on as their own.
I remember my son once flopped into the lounge at 9am in the morning and said, “I’m exhausted”. He wasn’t exhausted. He’d only just woken up a few hours earlier. I’m even unsure if he knew what the emotion of exhaustion meant. He was only three at the time. He looked and sounded exactly like I did, when I did it. In fact, it was the first time I really realised the impact of modelling. I have never forgotten that moment over ten years ago. I realised he’d seen me do it far more often than I was happy to admit to myself at the time.
I’m all for sharing my emotions and vulnerabilities with my child or, when the time is right, sharing my exhaustion. I even feel it’s important to share the reality of parenthood and work. In this instance, however, this was not something I wanted to encourage in my child. He sounded defeated, victim-like and, quite frankly, he sounded as if he were in old age.
So here are just a few benefits to WHY reframing matters!
Reframing is an easy and supportive tool to create more positive and effective habits and is a great way to practice positive and gentle parenting. It creates self-awareness for children and parents in noticing their language and the way it affects them.
Reframing helps children and parents to articulate and use more descriptive words and phrases to express themselves and their needs. It nurtures great thinking skills, independence, resilience, possibility and potential.
Phrases to inspire you to try on a Reframe!
In times of challenge or stress it can be extremely difficult to think quickly for words to use to stay calm and focused on connection. It takes preparation in some cases, especially if your child is in a “I can’t” phase and especially if you have habits of responding to particular behaviors the same old way. It is helpful to have some phrases up your sleeve to act and speak in honest, curious and respectful ways. There are many layers to reframing and using your words is one of them.
Instead of this: I can’t do it
Try this: According to whom? Act as if you can. You can’t do it YET. Give it a go. Do you want to do it?
Instead of this: Hurry up we’ll be late
Try this: Let’s aim to get there on time. We have all the time we need to get there safely.
Instead of this: Stop Whingeing
Try this: I hear you, but your whingeing is not going to get you what you need. You need to find a different way to communicate. Use your normal voice, then we can negotiate. That’s whingeing, it’s not working with me, use your normal voice and then I can hear what you are saying.
Instead of this: Why did you do that?
Try this: I’m curious, what made you choose that way? That was an interesting choice, tell me about it? How come you chose your grumpy mood with your friend today? What will you do for next time?
Instead of this: It’s impossible.
Try this: Who says? Which part seems impossible to you? If you want it bad enough, go for it.
Instead of this: I’m not good at that.
Try this: It’s not your strong point, but hey give it your best effort and see what happens. Not yet you’re not. You have only tried it once, give it some practice. Is it something you want to be good at?
Instead of this: My child is pushing my buttons.
Try this: I’m feeling easily annoyed right now.
Of course with all the phrases suggested change the language to meet the age development or milestones of your child.
There are so many ways to use your words carefully to flip or change perspective. A reframe supports you to check in with your own emotional triggers and self-regulate, being a great influence to your child on how they too learn to tune into their own emotions, responses and choices. If you need more support with reframing you can check out my free video series aptly named ‘crazy to calm’, in particular the power of pause is a pretty powerful practice for helping with a reframe.
I’d really love you to notice whether choosing to reframe helps you to feel better in the way you communicate with your child. Notice if this way of talking with your child restores your energy, keeps you calmer or supports you to be more flexible?
I hope these reframes inspire you to have a go. See how you feel when you use them and add to them with your own insights and experiences.
Happy, whole-hearted parenting.