The sense of shame I feel immediately after I’ve lost my rag with one of our kids is awful. They’re my least favourite moments as a Mum. Yes, usually it’s with the Hare – bless his little button-pushing socks. Particularly with him, we’ve been working hard to repair the connection after an angry moment – and it’s not always easy ’cause he’s nine, so he’s starting to do that thing kids do when their eyes are looking at us, but they just ain’t seeing… I’ve tried ‘calling him back’ – making sure the glazed look is gone, before I speak with him. And that’s worked well. But then I discovered this great strategy while reading ‘The Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield (you know, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy). Based on my background and knowledge, I’ve added in a step and added some extra ideas, because that’s just the kind of thing I do. And blow me down: it works.
Say child crosses road right in front of a car.
We are angry and say something like, “That was dumb! Why did you do that? Where are your brains…etc…etc” I’m sure you can fill in your own words here – and this bit, most of us have under control. LOL (No, you don’t have to be angry – but most of us are automatically in this kind of situation. Call it shock.)
So then, we realise what we have just said to our darling child and we know that wasn’t REALLY what we wanted to tell our kid, but our emotions hijacked our brains, and that’s never pretty.
So, then as soon as we think of it (using ‘I’) we add on to the end…
1. Our first emotional reaction…(fright, shock or surprise)
“I got a dreadful fright.”
2. Our fear, embarrassment or frustration…
“I was scared you were going to get run over.”
“I was embarrassed because I was just telling X how sensible you are.”
“I was frustrated because we’ve talked about this 1000 times before.”
2. Then we state our request…
“Next time, please check the road is safe before you cross.”
3. Then we state our love…
“I would terribly upset if you were hurt by a car.”
Suddenly, you’ve got a whole different message – plus a whole lot of training in emotional intelligence, and you all know how much I love THAT.
And the really fabulous thing is we’re talking the older boys through the process with each other.
“Don’t you take that bit of lego, you little expletive,” becomes…
“Don’t you take that bit of lego, you little expletive…(then with me) I got a shock when you grabbed the piece I needed. I am frustrated that you always want the piece I’m just about to use. Can we discuss what we need before we start. I really like to play with you when we aren’t arguing.”
Pinning the Hare down to admit he enjoyed the Owl’s company was an interesting experience to begin with. At first he didn’t want to even admit there were times they got on well together – yet they get on well most of the time. The second time we tried this, he managed to say the words clearly (not mumble under his breath) and make eye-contact with the Owl. And the relationship was immediately calm and they went off to play together far happier and far quicker than usual after a bit of a tussle.
Yeeha, I love it when I find a strategy that works. It feels a bit unnatural still, and I can see this will take some work before it becomes automatic. But it’s made the last few days (the boys were exhausted and a bit growly) a lot calmer than I would have expected given the circumstances. Even better, I felt I was *managing* rather than heading wild horses off at the pass. LOL
(This is officially how I help put food on the table. If you’ve found this article useful, please feel free to use the Koha button just above my blogroll. Even the smallest amount is appreciated. 🙂 )