How can you get them to go to bed? How do you get them to stop screaming in your face w defiance? How do you NOT be the lion tamer when you have little crazy lions? I know I know - never get mad, never get frustrated, never swat, never yell, always breathe and speak softly. Well.... I'm trying. I don’t say this a lot on here, but really, where do we get the idea that we can’t get mad or frustrated? Yes, I always say find the feeling better space and no we can’t hit our children, but our negative emotions are JUST as important as our positive ones. Sometimes, more important. Yes, children can make us feel mad or frustrated... so can partners, bankers, strangers and traffic lights. When they do... they don’t mean to. Rather it is within us giving us a sign that we’re reacting or seeing things from a place that isn’t from us. It does no good to block the emotion and pretend its not real. It’s very real and needs taming too. Parenting is a hands on spiritual experience as when we feel these things, even if we bottle them up, our children sense them and react to them... or at least offer more behaviour to back the feeling up. Therefore we have to change the feeling space that we live in, and they do to. Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling great then your children can play loudly, but when you feel off the noise can drive you crazy? Or when you are on they can ask questions that engage you and stay up late talking, but when you have a million things stressing you out or are super tired the same thing will have you climbing the walls?
We have to allow ourselves the off time, and we have to allow our children to know we’re feeling frustrated or mad. The trick is not to blame them for that. “I’m feeling mad inside” vs “You make me so mad!” Then they will see themselves in the same light and learn from you to experience all their emotions. We aren’t lion tamers... just bigger lions. Therefore honesty is in order. Depending on the age, explanations work, but even my three year old understands “you have to go to bed because your body needs more sleep than mine, so you can get big like Dad.” Followed by a “I’ll talk to you about tractors while we settle down, or I’ll tell your favorite story” Usually gets him up there and I get to have fun too if I’m not anxious that he won’t get there fast enough. Sometimes he might have something he has to do first. I like to be respected for my needs so I’ll let him have 5 minutes to do a bit of it. Screaming in your face? I usually reply “Would you like me to do that to you?” They usually say no. And then, when they talk the way I think they want to be talked to then I make sure I listen.
It’s a journey, a journey about ourselves as well as about them. For often when we feel negative emotions, they are just letting us know we don’t like the situation, but we can jazz it up, change the pace, make them laugh, make us laugh. It doesn’t have to be all about calm and peaceful. Little lions are sometimes trying to remind us that there is fun to be had and we sometimes get better response when we give them that one and jump in.