Updated: Jun 17, 2021
You get what you get and you don't get upset. I imagine a parent saying this to a child and an image of a parent presenting something to their child then the child crying or yelling emerges. This child is not happy with what was decided for them and is sharing an emotional reaction. The parent in turn shuts it down because of a few reasons. Most likely because:
I'm the parent and this is what is happening. We are not about to get into a power struggle here
You should not be upset. This is a perfectly reasonable choice that I made
I can't handle your feelings right now because I'm busy/going through my own stuff right now/feeling flooded/we're in a rush
I don't know how to navigate your feelings and I am not sure what else to say or do
Within these examples the focus is on the parent, after all they are the ones who are supposed to be caring for the child and are the main source of child rearing. What I notice is that they are unable to respond any differently when they are feeling flooded, stressed, have a lack of strategies, or view parenting as a top down relationship.
That means that when a parent is not at their best or knows no other way, they often times respond in ways that don't fully support where their children are at.
The reason I need to cover this first is because parents really are doing their best. Its not fair for me to roll my eyes or become irritated when I hear this because that response is all the parent is able to reach for in that very moment. They were presented with a situation and needed a response and that was what was available for them; a cheeky little quote.
That, however, does not mean it needs to end there. It is our responsibility to do better and grow. We need to look inward and identify why we respond they way that we do, review if it fits within our values as a parent, and adjust to stay on track with our parenting goals.
So, when I work with parents and sense resistance to adjusting the mindset and verbiage when interacting with their children, I soften and explore so that they can soften and explore. If a parent feels flooded and unsure how to coach their child through the upset, its important to praise that honesty and make space for how difficult that may be to share (even with themselves). Then honing in on if it fits within their own goals as a parent; is this the direction that you want to go in? If its not, I provide some psycho-education on ways to address the upset and navigate the situation more appropriately. Making a solid and actual plan helps tremendously because our brains often go into auto pilot when we've behaved in a way for a long period of time. Its like muscle memory, we just respond and do things based on they way we always have.
Related: Take my online parenting course to strengthen your family dynamic while managing misbehavior here
So with this example I may give the psycho-ed and say "Kids are allowed to have their feelings regardless of the boundary or choice you made. We want to teach them that their feelings are important and shutting them down does not prep them in the long run to manage their emotions or learn more socially appropriate ways to express them". Then we would make a plan, "the next time your child is throwing a fit over something that you decided, do these steps:
Deep breath and pull your focus inward
Say "My child's allowed to be upset. I can stay calm and walk them through it"
Reflect their feelings "your sad because I wont let you play with your friend after school. It seems like you're also angry with my decision. I get that, it may feel unfair as you were looking forward to it. We have some unexpected plans come up and now need to take care of that. I'm here if you want to talk"
Repeat step 3 if your child gives lots of push back and arguing
By having a tangible plan, were able to better have control of the situation and remain in the drivers seat so our emotions don't take over. Our kids really do parallel our emotions, when were out of control and reactive, they become more upset.
So if you're on the fence about shifting your verbiage or mindset when it comes to these saying, I challenge you to identify what exactly keeps you in that mindset. Why does it fit for you and your thought process. Also, is it working for your family and in the direction you want to go in. Moving towards attachment, connection, and communication to strengthen your family is a beautiful goal that you can strive for every day.
Check out a video where I discuss it more below!