The Daily Groove

Interpret Your Way to Partnership

A babe in arms who "pulls" her mother's hair is only behaving instinctively: all primate infants grasp their mothers' "fur" for stability while their mothers move about.

Tragically, when (human) mothers deem hair-pulling to be inappropriate, hurtful behavior, then something designed by Nature to promote closeness becomes instead a point of contention.

It would be so much easier to go with the flow. Simply leaning into the pull would stop the pain, and the mother could cheerfully redirect the baby's grasp to her clothing, for example.

The key to this shift from painful conflict to joyful partnership — which is possible in any parent/child interaction, at any age — is how you interpret your child's behavior. You feel more like a partner when you think, "She's just doing what comes naturally," than when you think, "She's hurting me!"

So today pay close attention to your interpretations, and choose interpretations that feel good and inspire you to acts of partnership.

Comments (closed)

Re-interpreting hitting, head-banging, hair-pulling


Can you guide me to a better interpretation when my toddler bangs his head on me, or slaps his hands on me, and the occasional hair-pulling. I realize each is an action from his needing relief - but it is truly challenging for me to tolerate it - with love and patience - I actually have gotten quite angry (it hurts!), and sternly told him no (which upsets him deeply).

I want to always provide comfort and understanding especially during the times when he is physically hurting me. I want to not have it spark anger (he seems to do this when I am my most tired and overwhelmed and less able to hold back the anger). I want him to move beyond this need to bang at me to seek relief. I feel like a punching bag.

Thanks so much for your reply...




Keep in mind that the "correct" interpretation is the one that brings you relief and/or enhances your feelings of partnership. I can't know what that is for you, but here's one you might try on...

"My son is doing me a favor by revealing a personal issue of mine that needs my attention... Namely, he's helping me see that I'm caught in a story of disempowerment... a story that started long before he was born and really has nothing to do with him... he just stumbled upon the trigger, and here I am feeling powerless again... as if this adorable little half-pint could have power over me! I'm so grateful that he's given me this opportunity to see that old story for what it is, let it go, and fully embrace my Inner Power."

I'm not pretending to be psychic and know your past, Sandy, it's just that virtually everyone in our society has a story of disempowerment that started when they were children, and we all tend to re-create those stories in the present. We keep repeating them until we've had enough and decide to take our power back.

As you connect more deeply with your Authentic Power, you won't have such strong anger reactions when he tries to hit you. You'll remember that you're free to choose your response. You'll realize that you don't have to tolerate being hit NOR do you have to resist it. You can simply take steps to uphold your mutual well-being... without making him "wrong."

The more powerful you seem to him, the more he will want to feel partnered with you, so that he will feel powerful, too. And the more powerful he feels, the less often he will feel angry, because anger is a natural reaction to perceived disempowerment.