What to do when your child is being blamed
In a workshop for 13-year-old girls, things got very animated when we began discussing being blamed. Issues came up about fairness as well as long-held resentment toward people doing the blaming.
An adult friend still feels hurt about being accused of taking money from someone’s purse at a birthday party when she was in middle school. Blame excludes and can be painful.
Even the subtle ways of showing blame — through a tone of voice, rolling eyes — can be powerful triggers. Remember the last time your child rolled his or her eyes at you or sighed deeply after your request, wordlessly saying, “Oh, Mom, come on.” Did you feel hurt, angry or maybe both?
When your are blamed for something, it takes great self-acceptance to move beyond defensiveness and to a sense of understanding.
Is it possible to teach your children how to handle being blamed with composure and empathy? Yes.
• Pause. If your daughter is upset because a friend accuses her of lying, pause before you respond. Without the pause, it is easy to come to the defense of your child rather than support her in handling the issue powerfully herself. Find your composure so that you avoid blaming the other child with a heated reaction. Instead, make it a conversation with your daughter, first asking, “How do you feel?”
• Teach your children to monitor their tone of voice. Talk about the impact of tone with your family. Avoid judgment; simply notice the results of using an angry tone, a disgusted tone, a rushed tone or a frustrated tone. As your children get more proficient at monitoring their own tone of voice, they will notice the tones that others are using. That awareness will guide them to be less reactive while becoming more curious about what is going on with the other person.
• Assume that others have a positive intention. This is a practice that can lighten all blame. It keeps others from becoming an enemy, and it keeps you curious.
• Stop talking about the mistakes that others make. Focus on improving yourself. Make every incident of blame about improving yourself rather than judging or trying to fix someone else. If your child is blaming a friend for being late, ask what they can do to make the situation better. Have them recall the last time they were late. Explore how they can improve at being on time.
Maggie Macaulay is the owner of Whole Hearted Parenting, offering coaching, courses and workshops. Contact her at 954-483-8021 Maggie@WholeHeartedParenting.com. Visit her website at www.WholeHeartedParenting.com.