How to stay Partner with your Kids this Summer
It’s summer time and for many that means extra 'Kiddie-Management’. Having worked for years in the field of communication, one thing is clear - for many of us walking and talking Partner in our close family and/or intimate relationships can be far more challenging than in our professional lives.
Keep in mind most of us show up as Partner most of the time. Unfortunately the triggers that may cause us to slip into Predator or Prey are plentiful. Some of those triggers include feeling under stress, pressure, perceived threat or even a crisis. Or simply when we’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired (I’ve had two of these triggers already this morning since starting this article!) Some land mines will take us completely by surprise (i.e. unexpected traffic jam and you’re late for the Harry Potter tour). Other land mines we can predict - we all know a few hours without food or snacks reduces most human beings to a fit of tears no matter how young or old we are.
So, how can you stay Partner with your kids during summer?
Step 1: Become more attentive to both predictable and unpredictable land mines. For example:
- Buy your tickets online for the Harry Potter tour to avoid meltdowns in the queue
- Leave 15 minutes earlier, just in case there is extra traffic or take an earlier train
- And if you remember nothing else, wear comfortable shoes!
Step 2: Pick your battles. If fatigue has set in with your kiddie, yourself or worst case scenario both, this is the moment to choose only what is essential. For example if your child doesn’t want to put their shoes on and death is not imminent, this is the moment to take the high road (you may need to put your ego to the side). Focus on the bigger goal to get home without a Predator/Prey breakdown. If you do manage to stay Partner under pressure, be sure to celebrate!
Step 3: What to do if you fail miserably…
- Be kind, do not beat yourself up for stepping on a land mine. It takes time and a gentle approach to change these behaviors. In fact the kinder you are with yourself when you fail, the more rapidly you will see improvement.
- After some time has passed (and perhaps a glass of wine), analyse the event through the lens of the Partner model and ask yourself ‘how would I do that differently as a Partner?’. Although you won't be able to repair what has already happened, simply analyzing it (a form of visualization) is another way to build Partner muscles. This will increase the chances of you being more successful the next time a land mine surprises you!