What do you do when your kids lose their mind?
Intense feelings like anger are easy for all of us to relate to, yet it's hard for most of us to let our children express them.
My response varies depending on where I'm at with myself. If I'm busy, in my head and not really connected with her experience, then I also lose my mind. I may raise my voice and complain about her attitude – which usually adds fuel to the fire. A sad example for her to follow. A waste of a great opportunity to model empathy and compassion.
Now if I'm grounded (somewhat grounded is often enough) I might lower to her eye level and actually listen. I might be able to empathize with her feelings and mirror them with words so she can hear how they sound and feel heard. "You seem upset. You didn't like that I took the knife away from you." (as if!)
It's amazing what a calm voice and empathetic words can do. I don't have to stretch my boundaries, I just need to connect, empathise with the feelings, and do what I feel is safe.
When a child has a meltdown or a temper tantrum, there is no reasoning with them. What they need is the space to feel the wave of emotion, in the company of an adult able to stay with them through it and remain calm. After all, if we lose our minds too, then who can they rely on for safety?
Sometimes these words come to mind:
“We might imagine we are a large sheltering oak tree in this storm, a solid, overarching friend, not necessarily understanding or having answers, but offering a sympathetic presence.”
Wise words from Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn #mindfulparenting