Co-parenting "kids with big feelings": 19 questions to ask your partner

"Kids with big feelings" is a phrase I sometimes use to describe children who have a tendency to get more frustrated, worried, embarrassed, hurt and sad than other children their age.  I use this phrase because it avoids negativity and reflects the fact that these kids are often also particularly creative, joyful and hilarious fun!

If you are a parent of a child with "big feelings" kids you know that it can be really hard work.   And unlike most other "jobs", we get no training, time for reflection, formal planning processes or team building days...nope, we just do the best we can on the fly.

Sometimes this works out okay.  

However if we can squeeze in some time for reflection and planning - then the job can get easier. 

Here's a exercise to try - "Parenting Reflection Walk" - perhaps over the holidays.  Go for a walk with your parenting partner or a close friend.  And ask them the 19 questions below (change the wording slightly as indicated if it is a friend versus a co-parent) and have them ask you the same ones.  See if it leads to any practical ideas you'd like to implement for 2017.

What were the best things about how you were parented when you were a child?
What were the worst things about how you were parented?
When do you feel most guilty as a parent?
When do you feel proud as a parent?
What would you like to do differently (if anything) with X child?
What would you like to do differently (if anything) with Y child?
Is there anything I do or say with X or Y child which you have thought useful/appreciated?
How do you feel about how we (you) are handling issues with child X's frustration and anger?
Is there anything else you think we (you) could do to help him/her with it?
How do you think we (you) are handling issues with child/'s X's worry or anxiety?
Is there anything else you think we (you) could do to help him/her with it?
How do you feel about the way we (you) manage sleep/bedtimes?
How do you feel about the way we (you) manage issues related to homework?
How do you feel about the way we (you) manage issues related to getting along with siblings/other kids?
How do you feel about the way we (you) manage issues related to getting along with jobs/chores?
What are the things that make you angriest/most frustrated in dealing with child X?
Is there anything to be done/I or others could do to help you feel calmer?
What activities or situations do you most enjoy with child X/Y?  Is there anything that could be done to help that occur more often?
What skill would you most like child X/Y to learn this year?  How could you/we help him/her learn that skill?

Remember there are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions.  It's just the asking of them (leading to thinking, planning) which is most beneficial.

Kirrilie

PS - no time for a walk right now?  Perhaps just pick two and ask over dinner or in the next car trip together? Or even send a text (even right now?!) to your partner/close friend with one of these questions and see what it leads to!

PSS - no time without the kids around?  Some of these questions can be asked and discussed in front of the children if necessary.  Provided it is not a critical or harsh conversation, kids can benefit from hearing you think about parenting and sometimes help in providing perspective in this conversation too.

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