The Daily Groove


Have a NICE Day! (Part 2)

(Cont'd from Part 1)

Authentic children, knowing their inherent worthiness, shamelessly ask for everything they want. Parents who've bought into the Rule of Nice feel obliged to fulfill their children's wishes and eventually feel overwhelmed.

At this point, many "nice" parents snap and become mean... followed by guilt... leading to more false niceness. And the nice-mean-guilty cycle repeats.

Some parents find relief by persuading their children to want less. This seems benign but the end result is the children believing there is something wrong with them: "I want something... but I shouldn't want it... I must be unworthy."

Lasting relief for everyone begins with quitting the niceness game. When you don't "have to" be nice, you may discover that you want to be nice!

Even if you choose not to "give in," you can stand in a place of knowing that they — and you — are worthy of satisfaction. That's the place where creativity flourishes!

Quitting the niceness game

Scott,
You've described my life currently with my toddler - nice/mean/guilt.

So, what are the next steps to move out of the niceness game, allow what I want, and keep my child's feeling of freedom to continue?

Re: Quitting the niceness game

Probably the most important step you'll take is making a commitment to pay close attention to your feelings and then to honor them.

We become "nice" by learning to disregard our feelings, and eventually we stop feeling altogether — we "numb out."

When you start reconnecting with your authentic feelings, you may notice a lot of anger coming up. That's actually a good thing so long as you remember to use the energy of your anger constructively: let it energize your determination to be authentic and creative. Avoid the temptation to blame others (especially your child) for "making" you angry. Decide instead that they are doing you a favor by helping you clarify Who You Really Are.

Remember that honoring your feelings and preferences doesn't mean you have to DIS-honor or oppose others with different preferences. It's a big universe with plenty of room for diversity. :)

Also, if you've been chronically "nice," you may have inadvertently trained others to make YOU responsible for THEIR feelings. Once you stop taking responsibility for their feelings, they may be disoriented and freak out because they can no longer control you with their emotional behavior. If you stay present and accepting with them during this phase (in the same way that you've committed to staying present and accepting with your own feelings) they will eventually learn that you and they can be authentic with each other in partnership. The old habit of feeling "responsible" (guilty) when they felt bad will be replaced by authentic responsibility (response-ability) — responding to YOUR desire to contribute to their well-being.

Re: Quitting the niceness game

What I did with my pre-teen (so it may not work for toddlers) is to say calmly and playfully "I'm nearly out of yesses today." This helped her relate to me as a person with finite time and resources, helped her reconnect with my having met her needs several times already, helped her prioritize her needs. It also helped ME remember I am not superwoman, I can be nice and still have to say no to a reasonable request, and be in touch with my feelings of irritation without taking it out on her.

Gretta
(single mom)