Executives may feel in control at work, but they often feel powerless when it comes to being home with their kids. Some executives report they prefer working to being with their kids. This can be a truth that is hard to admit, but it can be frustrating when kids don’t listen, ignore requests, and speak disrespectfully. If a parent wants the behavior in their kids to change, and they want to get more cooperation, respect and listening – it all starts with connection.
There are some simple things which anyone can do, no matter how busy their schedule is, which can make some big shifts at home and in dealing with kids.
Set yourself a firm, absolute end time to your day
“Parkinson’s Law” has been a game-changer for many with their time management. This law explains that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”. This means that if you give yourself a non-negotiable end to your day, as that time gets closer, you’ll ramp up your productivity so you get what you need to get done, done.
Whether you are having a great day at the office or a horrible one, C-suite Executives who connect effectively with their kids take time to intentionally transition from working to being with family. They use the commute, a moment in the garage, or if working from home, they take a moment to close their eyes and breathe before emerging from the office.
It’s recommended that people who use transition time use that time to check in with themselves.
Suggested questions might be:
What am I feeling right now?
How is my energy (agitated, low, or high?)
How do I want to show up for my family?
Noticing the answers to these questions help people be accountable for the energy they’re bringing into their homes. Studies show that stress is contagious and if individuals bring a stressed-out vibe to their home, kids will mirror it. When everyone is stressed, harmony doesn’t exist.
Once a person can check-in and see where they are at mentally and emotionally, then they can set an intention for how they want to be with their family. Intentions are powerful because a person’s mindset is powerful. When you set an intention, thoughts, words, actions, and reactions follow.
Each individual is unique as to what they prefer for intentions, but some thought starters could be:
My intention is to be present with my kids
My intention is to be silly and fun with my kids
My intention is to not let the small things upset me
My intention is to not look at my phone or email until my kids are asleep
Once an executive has successfully left work behind and is ready to enjoy their family, they still might be faced with behavior they don’t like. Since most parents are never taught the skills to handle “bad” behavior, they often do what was done to them in their childhoods. Sometimes this means punishing, threatening, verbally putting a child down, or yelling. But just as there are different ways to run a board meeting, there are completely different ways to handle behavior that will lead to the connection kids are seeking with their parents.
When all behavior is viewed as a form of communication, it changes the lens from which the problem is perceived. If the problem behavior persists, it means that a child’s need isn’t getting met, a feeling is unvalidated or the child doesn’t yet have the skills to do better. Try not to put the behavior in a container of good or bad, but instead, as a problem to be solved.
When a child refuses to listen, ignores you, or acts rudely, all you need to do is ask “WHY?”.
Why don’t you want to come and eat?
You must be frustrated, is that why you spoke to me that way?
Why didn’t you come when I called you?
Then listen…really listen to the answer the child says. Give them the same respect in listening that a board member would receive. Listening for understanding, versus listening to respond is very different. Acknowledge that they might not want to eat at the moment, and then ask the child to help come up with a solution. Soliciting ideas from kids is so much more powerful than a lecture.
In parenting, where parents often get stuck is that they often misunderstand the way kids go about asking for attention because it is taken personally. Because kids are still learning and their brains are still growing, they can’t always articulate what they want and feel so it comes out in ways that displease adults. Parents can feel offended, disrespected, frustrated, and at a loss when this happens. When the behavior is labeled in negative ways, that takes parents away from understanding what’s truly going on with the child. Please remember these behaviors are never personal, it’s never about the adult! Kids have big feelings that they don’t really understand, can’t deal with, and don’t know how to articulate.
That and when they have big feelings, they don’t have very many ways to cope in the same way adults do. They can’t call a friend to discuss, have a glass of wine, scroll mindlessly through social media, or bury themselves in their work. Go easy on kids and always seek to understand before reacting.
In short, when a connection is high, resistance is low. Investing in these small changes will pay off in creating more connections with kids which means more cooperation and harmony at home. There simply isn’t a better feeling than that!
Written by Robbin McManne.
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