Any people pleasers out there? This quote makes me ache with sadness! But I think this should be extended to all adults, not just parents. Teachers, Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, older siblings.
If this resonates with you, think back to your own childhood. How were you parented? Was there a reward chart? Did you get pocket money for doing certain jobs? Did you get punished or told off for something you didn’t realise was “wrong”? Have you always been considered a “good girl” or “good boy”?
So many of us, in this generation of parents, are people pleasers. It has put pressure on us to be “good” all of the time, rather than thinking of ourselves and doing what we feel is right. We feel under pressure to be a great parent all of the time. We feel guilty when our kids don’t come first. We feel drained and exhausted because we are up against it constantly.
If you’re a people pleaser, you probably battle with your inner critic or your “chimp” on a regular basis. Your chimp will tell you things like:
“I can’t say that, they’ll think I’m selfish”
“If I take time for me, it looks like I don’t care”
“If I don’t tell them off, I look like I’m out of control”
“I don’t know what else to do, I’m a crap parent” or something else that stops you from pleasing yourself or feeling good about your parenting style.
But... Do you want your kids to also spend their adulthood pleasing others or would you prefer that your kids grow up pleasing themselves?
Parenting is hard, right? It’s okay! Your kids don’t have to grow up being people pleasers. It all comes down to the way we parent and the way we talk to our kids. You can shift the pathway for your kids, and it’s largely down to rewards and punishments.
When children are rewarded or punished, they are being taught to do something that they don’t want to do, for a reward. And if they don’t do what they’re told, even if it doesn’t feel right to them, they get punished.
They are being taught to conform, rather than being allowed to be themselves and to do what they feel they want to do. And by extension, children learn that the only way to receive love and happiness is to do what they are told, rather than do what pleases them.
Sound familiar? It’s likely you came from this kind of background. As adults that are people pleasers, it’s hard to undo all of that, as it’s been ingrained in us for 30/40/50 years BUT it isn't impossible.
We are literally teaching children, affirming to them, that when they do what we want, they are “good” and we love them for it, and when they do what they want, they are “bad” and they get punished.
We are punishing kids for being themselves.
When you think about it, that’s pretty scary, don’t you think?
It’s tough right?! How do you bring your kids up in a way that they’ll learn to think for themselves? To be creative and think outside of the box? To be free to express how they really feel about something without worrying what other people will think? To truly be who they are?
It’s OKAY to relinquish control. I believe there’s no such thing as letting kids “get away with it” or “rule the roost”. I believe kids and adults should live as equals. As parents, we are the guide, we are the teacher, we don’t have to be the one in control to be able to lead and inspire.
Our kids learn what we DO not what we say. Work on yourself - think back to your own childhood. Notice the patterns in your reactions when your kids are playing up and interrupt the cycle with positivity. You’ll feel happier, more confident and your kids will thank you for it!
Ask yourself... is this worth the battle? What is the worst that could happen, if I let this situation play out? It is likely that the positives far outweigh the negatives. Trust in your kids, let them be free, allow them the opportunity to show you how they want to live life. Guide them with positive direction without rewards. But also, give yourself permission to have the space and time you need to be a great parent!