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Dealing with a resistant toddler… or adult

My 3 year old daughter’s got a new thing she likes to say to me when she’s upset.

Don’t look at me! or Don’t talk to me! – words to that effect.

When it first started, it was brutal. I took it as a rejection.

But what I’ve come to realize is she’s always saying this when she’s simply feeling resistant. She’s upset about something, needs space to process, and so her natural resistance comes up. Because quite often, within 30 seconds of her saying that, she’ll want me to come and read her book or come play with her, so she didn’t really mean it literally.

Now, she can’t say, “I’m feeling resistant and it’s not about you daddy, I’m just experiencing complex emotional nuance so I need a minute to self-regulate.” So instead, she just says, “Don’t look at me!”

So I’ve had to learn, of course, to not take her literally, to not get attached to the content of what she’s saying. Now I just look at the feelings behind it and respond accordingly.

This applies to adults, too!

Adults will often say things when they’re in the heat of emotion, and you’ll take the words literally and escalate into a big conflict, simply because you incorrectly assume that adults are better at expressing themselves than toddlers and therefore mean what they say.

Since when has that been true?!

If you just listen for the feelings, and assume that those sensations are what they’re really trying to express, you’ll realize it’s nothing personal…

And, most of the time, there’s absolutely nothing you need to do about it!


For more on this topic, check out my video “Why do nice guys struggle with conflict resolution in marriages?”

https://theinspirationallifestyle.com/why-do-nice-guys-struggle-with-conflict-resolution-in-marriages/

One Response

  1. Try a “Seems like…” interpretation, such as “Seems like you’re feeling frustrated” and basically ignore their actual complaint (if they’re heated)

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