I struggle sometimes in my head sharing both sides on these posts of moving to another country with kids. The fighting and screaming with 3 kids was a real challenge at home, and it is probably more so in a new country.
To deal with it, we decided to get some professional help. In The Fast Forward Mindset, the main coach in the book who has had an impact on me is Kim Ades of Frame of Mind Coaching. As it turns out, she is also an expert in working with parents, in fact she is preparing a TEDx on this very topic. So we gave her a call and shared some of our struggles and right away she was on the case.
Last week she started coaching sessions with Kelli and within days I saw a difference. Not in the kids necessarily, but with Kelli. That got me intrigued.
Kim shared with Kelli that the key to happy parenting is taking care of yourself first. Kids want attention from their parents. Whether you are screaming or playing with them it is still attention. So if they do something that leads to you screaming they are getting that attention. Kim explained, your screaming comes from your own mindset not from the children’s behavior. She said the phrase, “The way I feel comes from my thinking, not my kids behavior.”
A key thing happened when Kelli changed her thinking. She became calm and happy, and I became more unhappy with the kids behavior. It was interesting.
I took on more negative thinking vs. letting Kelli take the load of this burden, which is usually the case. Once I realized this, I quickly said I am going to get on this game too. Kim speed up your TEDx talk please!
Below is an example of how this technique worked on this day. On our way to the Costa Brava, we picked Leila up from her sleepover. The kids always fight over who has to sit in the middle. Josh and Jonah strategically placed themselves on the window seats before Leila got to the car and would not move.
We all quickly realized it was Josh’s turn to be in the middle, and yet he still would not move. While standing on the street, Leila was screaming at him, getting louder and louder. Kelli looked at Leila and said “he does not change his behavior by your screaming, so there is no point and it only makes you feel worse.” Then Kelli said the three of them need to work it out and we are not moving until that happens. Go Kelli!
I turned the engine off and we just waited. Leila was standing outside and asked Josh in a calm voice to move. He wouldn’t. Then she just stopped asking and waited. The car was silent. It took less than two minutes and then a miracle happened. Josh unbuckled his seat belt and moved to the middle. At the same time he looked at Leila and said “I hate you.” Followed very quickly with him saying, “you did not even say thank you.” Maybe in the future he will learn that if he does something and wants a “thank you”, do not say something rude first.
I looked at Kelli and she was smiling ear to ear. It freaking worked. We did nothing. We did not scream. We just sat there and waited for the kids to work it out or we would just go home. It was a game of chicken and this time we came out on top.
Two hours later we arrived in the village of Pals and dropped our stuff at the hotel. We then headed to have lunch and tour the medieval town that was built between the 11th and 13th century. It was so cool. It reminded me so much of our vacation in Italy last year with our good friends the Yaccarinos.
We got back to our hotel around 5pm. We relaxed and went to the pool for a bit. I went for an evening run along the beach. The temperature was perfect. For dinner we copied what we did in Sitges and ordered in room service for the kids and we ate downstairs. This time they could even see us from the balcony.
Trying to be the nice cool dad, I brought the kids back ice cream. It was against Kel’s better advice. In hindsight, maybe they did not need that at 11pm at night. They went from calm children to screaming animals jumping off the walls in a matter of 20 minutes. I still can’t believe sugar does that to children. I sort of want to experience that one more time… Anyway, after some drama it was bedtime. Let’s just say I ended up sleeping in one of the kid’s beds. It was past midnight by the time we all fell asleep.
Another full day living in Barcelona!