Reaching New Heights With Your Kids
Parenting is rarely about big gestures. It probably has more to do with your every day interactions and how you handle individuals and situations. Today I experienced one of those situations where it was 3 PM, Ean was tired and hungry and therefore of course grumpy and sad.
As tears started to run down his cheeks and he was expressing his despair I had two choices either to speak to him like a person who is experiencing overwhelming emotions or reduce him to a nuisance that I need to get control of as soon as possible. I think you know where I’m going with this.
First I asked him to regain control of himself, this is something we have been practicing since he was a baby. I’ve taught him breathing techniques to calm him down when he’s bordering on a tantrum or emotions running over. I made a video about it when he was smaller. Eye contact, focus on breathing and tons of patience. Here´s that video:
So I repeated a few times: regain control, calm yourself and take a deep breath. Good, one more time. Now, please listen for a moment.
I understand what you are experiencing right now and I think you do too. It’s 3 o’clock, you’re hungry and it’s getting close to your siesta time. You know what that means right? Your emotions get really big and you get grumpy and sad. I hear you and I understand that you want to do what do you want to do but that’s not how it works in a family. I can only listen to you if you listen to me and we can only do things that you want if you do things that we want. A little bit for you, and a little bit for me so that everyone is happy.
We went to the shop that you wanted and we’ve been playing in here for 30 minutes and before that you were waiting patiently while I was working. That’s a little bit for you and a little bit for ne. Now it’s getting late, you need to eat and we need to go to sleep. So can we agree that this is best for everyone? Are you listening to me? Yes? Thank you. To show you that I’m listening to you, I know you want my phone and you can have it during the drive home to watch Netflix. Does that sound fair? Yes? Great! Now, a big hug and let’s go home. I love you and thank you for understanding.
Believe me, not every interaction goes this well and I have lost my temper more times than I can count but we have to keep trying right? We have to keep getting better and be the best parents we possibly can, learn from our shortcomings and improve, always. This is just an example of how something negative can turn into something very positive. We were all tired, it was hot and humid and nobody was really in the mood for a conversation but having the mental agility to make that extra effort not only defused a potential powder-keg about to go off but also brought us closer together.
Once we got home he was calm and collected but very tired and asked to be carried. In that 35°C humid heat, with a sore neck and lack of sleep, not to mention several bags hanging over my shoulders it would’ve been easy to just say no and let him walk. Instead I replied, I will carry you for as long as I can. He exclaimed: really?! Thank you so much!
I humanized myself and showed that while I may not be invulnerable I’m always going to do my best for him. Instead of him fearing me for shouting at him, he will hopefully respect and love me because he knows that he is seen, heard and understood and at the end of the day, isn’t that really all we want as human beings regardless of age? To be seen, heard, understood and accepted. To be talked to, rather than talked at.