Your Inner Dragon (Part I): 5 Signs your kids need to learn
I believe an Inner Dragon is a part of our personalities that many people never use. It is what I would consider the protector of our core values, possibly the gatekeeper for our “fight or flight “abilities.
There is a level, some place deep inside of us, where we can go when we need to find strength that we did not know we possess. This place is your Inner Dragon.
For the most part, we will function in life and never need to visit this special place. However, once you begin to raise a child, you will soon realize that you need help.
Just ask any childless woman about her happy thoughts of bonding with her future children and compare these thoughts with the actual experiences she had during the first several years of the children’s life. It is a very, very different story!
A common theme is: I was a better mother before I had kids. Truth for most of us.
Raising kids is hard work, and most young mothers are overwhelmed but believe that once the kids get older, things will improve. As an empty nester, I can tell you that waiting for your child to decide to follow your directions and obey your rules…that is not a good plan.
Parenting is an action sport which requires planning and adapting to the team (or child) you are playing against. As parents, our goal is to help our children learn to be polite, caring people who will contribute in some way to our society. This will require discipline. Discipline is one of the main things are kids are born to resist.
I understand this may not be a popular topic because I have spoken to many parents who believe they should not raise their voice to children or tell them the word “no”. This post is definitely not for those parents.
This post is also not for parents with special needs children or children who are simply exhausted, hungry or not feeling well.
This post is for the parents who can predict a meltdown because their children want to make their own rules or teach you to follow theirs.
This post is for those parents who repeatedly experience situations that they have not been able to control OR when a new extremely unacceptable situation occurs that needs immediate attention.
The Inner Dragon concept is for those of us who struggled to find the right balance for letting our kids explore and develop their own personalities while remaining within range of our individual family rules.
Children are learning their boundaries, so it is their job (24/7) to push those boundaries and find out what happens. As a parent, it is your job to REPEATEDLY let them know that if they do not follow the rules, the results will not be pretty. In fact, things may get downright ugly.
Discipline begins with toddlers and should be as consistent as you can make it. I recognize there may be days when your children will win, and you can only sit quietly and wait for the storm to pass.
But as your children grow and have been repeatedly taught your expectations for behavior, it will become clear when they simply choose to not follow your rules. Your discipline should grow right along with them!
Yes, there are millions of books/blogs that explain thoughts on the best ways to discipline your children at specific ages. But, as usual, I feel this is entirely up to each parent. You know your kids better than anyone else, so you need to determine what will get their attention. You technique will hopefully decrease the amount of times they disobey.
Developing your Inner Dragon may prevent you from becoming one of the parents to teenagers who I frequently see in my private practice. These parents have learned to keep a straight face and avoid my eye contact when their child yells at them to “just shut up”. Yes this is a situation I believe everyone wants to avoid.
Many moms have experienced a sudden overwhelming emotional outburst when frustrated with their kids’ lack of respect for our rules. This is the uncontrolled, untamed version of your Inner Dragon.
We all have Inner Dragons, but some choose to lock them away forever and never them out to do work. Others let the dragons out much too frequently.
I believe we need to recognize our Inner Dragon exists, and personally work to train and tame the dragon. Then, when needed, the dragon knows its rules and boundaries.
An out of control momma dragon is not useful and should be avoided at all costs. Dragons should not be called upon to deal with children who make a mess and don’t clean up, continually get out of bed, or the everyday stresses of motherhood. Dragons should be used as a nuclear option to end the discussion on a specific topic. You will know when your child has crossed a line that needs to never be crossed again.
A dragon is not abusive; it is assertive and extremely clear about what it demands. Your children will learn to obey your inner dragon. They should start to see glimpses of the dragon and feel its presence before the first dramatic release.
Eventually, kids will learn to avoid doing things that make the dragon come out. This is what we as mothers pray for…but it takes work to get there. Some children may never meet your Inner Dragon because these are the children we all dream about. The children who dislike hearing a raised voice or having basic privileges taken away. Other children, and you know which ones these are, respond best when the fire-breathing monster demands it.
In general, the Inner Dragon should be used when you feel that you have used all other options. You find yourself standing in front of your defiant child who has a smug look of victory on her face that needs to be wiped away forever. Many times this is in public when you are already embarrassed by your child’s actions. You have already hit rock bottom.
Your Inner Dragon is there to save you and your child.
A mom needs to introduce her children to her Inner Dragon when needed, but also needs to let them see they have reached the final stage before the dragon appears. Eventually, your children should see the signs that you are nearing a point that you may need to release the dragon.
Your children should be able to look into your face and see something in your eyes that tells them to stop or face the next step. I call this Eye Speak.
Every mother will develop her own signs to warn that the dragon is near. I used the same signs my mother used for me and they were very helpful in helping me raise my daughters.
5 Warning signs that the Inner Dragon is coming:
Your smiling face disappears, and your voice becomes uncomfortably quiet.
Your posture becomes perfect with a spine straight, as if made of steel.
Your eyes will squint and eye brows will lower while your stare shows flames that will soon be released
You slowly shake your head side to side
You stand up or walk a step or two closer to your child….this is the final warning shot.
At this point, if the behavior has not changed, the dragon should be released. No more negotiations. What exactly your dragon does after it comes out will depend on how you tamed and trained it. But it must be fierce!
Having raised two willful girls, I know my Inner Dragon was extremely helpful. Having watched many parents in my office threaten punishments that their children clearly were not concerned about, I know more moms could benefit from training their Inner Dragon.
Part II of the Inner Dragon blog will show how my mother, sweet Nana, raised me to obey by showing me her Inner Dragon. The lessons she taught me helped me to teach my children to recognize when I was about to release my Inner Dragon by using Eye Speak.
Have your children seen your Inner Dragon?