The other day, my daughter was upset that my son wouldn’t hug her.
Before that, my son was angry that he couldn’t ride his bike.
A tantrum usually results with one or the other on the floor crying. They’re both well beyond the stage where this is age appropriate, but that’s a topic for another post.
The point is, how I handle it … sometimes calmly …
… and other times, I have my own mommy tantrums. Almost every week I put myself in “time out” when I get overwhelmed. I go to my room and pout, sulk, and feel sorry for myself for about 15 minutes.
My husband, Joe, and I have learned, thanks to “Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control” by Heather Forbes and Bryan Post, that as parents, we should stay present with our own feelings and alert to how our kids can “push our buttons.”
We’ve been working on figuring out what those buttons are and the underlying trauma that triggers them. For instance, if I feel scared, hurt or angry, it’s probably from something that happened in my own childhood – not anything my kids did.
We adopted our daughter and son in 2010, and we’ve done a lot of reading and counseling about parenting children who are attachment-challenged. These children usually have experienced some type of early trauma and can have a difficult time bonding, which adds an extra dimension to our challenge.
But through it, I’ve become much more aware of my own child-like behavior – such as thinking only about my own needs, which leads to my own little pity party. I notice this behavior coming on when I feel unappreciated. For example, when I think I’m doing all the work and no one helps or says “thank you.”
Oh yes, I keep working, but I now understand that inside I’m pouting – and holding back my feelings – and that almost always backfires.
The important piece here is for me to remind myself that whatever is going on with me, it’s not the kids’ fault.
So now when they have a tantrum, I tell them, “Next time, if you’re feeling angry or scared, you can use your words to tell me – then we’ll solve it together.”
Frankly, I’m still working on this myself and asking myself why it’s so hard for me to ask for help or tell someone what I need.
I know part of it is because I want to be supermom (i.e. the perfect mom).
Slowly, I’m realizing that it’s ok to just be “mom.” Remembering that, I turn my attention to building a relationship with our children and hold close that I’m learning right along them.