I won’t mince words – it’s YOU. You are the very best gift you can give your child.

To be more specific, it’s the best VERSION of you.

Have you noticed that your children know exactly how to get you riled up? Kids are masters at reading body language and facial expressions – they have to be, since they go through their first few years of life with a far less sophisticated vocabulary than us – and no matter how clever we think we are at masking our emotions, they know exactly what to do or say to get the smoke pouring from our ears.

And any time we notice a “hot button” issue within ourselves, it’s a sure sign of some unresolved emotional baggage, like limiting beliefs or negative self-talk.

Some might say that children are bestowed upon us to get us to work through our issues. Because if we don’t, then we’ll keep losing our temper or getting stressed or whatever our “hot button” response is.

Often I hear parents say “I get so angry when my kids do ___”.

If you identify with that, congratulations! It means that you recognise that there’s something about your child’s behaviour that’s provoking your response. And the way to get past that, in most instances, isn’t to try and change your child, it’s to resolve whatever is IN YOU that is producing that response.

Kids generally want to feel loved, to feel accepted, and to feel worthy. Any challenging behaviour we observe usually stems from their desire to feel one of these three things. This knowledge alone can be enough to change our perception; to view our childrens’ behaviour as an unmet need, rather than a deliberate attempt to be “difficult” or “manipulative”. But when we, as parents, carry around emotional baggage, it clouds our observation of their behaviour, and we start to see things as a personal attack or some “problem” with them.

Does this mean that parents are always at fault? No. And it’s not the child’s fault either. Any interaction between two people is the result of their perceptions and actions, so it would be unfair to place “blame” squarely on a single individual.

So what can we do? Two things in life we have control over are our perceptions and our responses. Both of which are influenced by our thinking. The very best thing we can do as parents is to be mindful of our own thought patterns. And if we find ourselves thinking or responding in ways that aren’t helpful to us (e.g. if we have consistent feelings of anger or frustration), then we can change it.

And change doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking, either. Thanks to the internet and social media, personal development is easier than ever, and you can do it in your own time, at your own pace. Whether it’s listening to snippets from YouTube or reading blogs or listening to a podcast/audio program while taking the dog for a walk, there’s something to suit every learning style. You don’t even need to spend a cent for a lotof it.

The goal of personal development is not to be a “perfect” parent (whatever that means). The goal is to be a better version of yourself, every day. You’ll still have moments of frustration or anger. But being a better version of you means that you’ll be better at managing those emotions.  No one knows your children better than you, no one loves then as much as you, and no one is better equipped to be their parent than you. So why not give them, and give yourself, the best YOU that you can be, right now?