Freeze Frame, Reframe: The Art of Altering Perspective

Today’s blog post is submitted by our featured guest contributor, Rachel Taylor, M.S.  Enjoy the post and look forward to future posts from Rachel.

I know there has been a lot of posts, books, lectures, etc. instructing parents on how to “deal” with their misbehaving child.  They offer techniques and tips to try, and I think that they are great tools and useful resources for parents.  What I want to do in this moment however is turn the focus to you as the parent, and how you think. 

The way we perceive the world directly affects the way we conduct ourselves in it.  When we believe that our children are acting out or being naughty on purpose, we lose our tempers easier, we get resentful, we feel exhausted and defeated.  So, what I want to offer is a different way to look at problems.  In counseling we call this “reframing,” but the terminology used is really not the important part, it’s the intention. I like to have clients imagine they are looking at a picture and holding it up with two different frames.  Both look great, but they have a very different overall look.  By reframing, we are attempting to look at a situation and considering another perspective then the first one we’ve come up with. 

When we are having a bad day or are in a bad mood, how do we act as adults?  Often we snap at our partners or children, we grump-about and become negative, we feel tired and cranky.  Why would our child, especially one who is not accompanied by a wide vocabulary, be any different? 

When children act out, we often jump to the conclusion that they are doing it to drive us crazy or just plain being difficult.  If we take a moment to reframe, to consider a different perspective, we can usually come up with alternatives. Maybe they are tired because they missed their nap? Perhaps they aren’t comfortable in their clothes today? Maybe they are feeling insecure and just want to be held for a while?  So, next time there’s a difficult situation with your child, try to take a few deep breaths and perhaps consider reframing the situation. 

Rachel Taylor is a Marriage and Family Counselor in private practice in Corvallis.  She provides parenting education as well as child, family, individual and couples counseling services. Her website is www.racheltaylorcounseling.com.