So Kloppenmum-ers, where do you fit on the scale of 1 to 10 (1 being least upset, 10 being most) when your children tell you that they hate you?
When someone tells us they hate us they are telling us that they don’t like the information they are processing at the time. Most often, in parenting, this happens when a child is having a tantrum after we have used the word, No, or set some boundary or other. Most often, with adults, this happens when we decide we are not going to be treated in a certain way or we challenge the other about something we deem inappropriate.
And, they really do hate us: at this moment and until the processing is complete and they accept the boundary or our right to an alternative opinion. And that reaction is OK. No, really.
Anger, fear and sorrow are all automated defense mechanisms and they are useful and fine, unless they get stuck. Stuck bodily sensations/emotions are where the problems lie. *We want to be angry but have to stuff those sensations away. *We feel sad but have to hide that we’re feeling sad. *We are experiencing deep fear but cannot fight the person we fear or we cannot get away from them. These are the sorts of situations that cause our bodily sensations/emotions to get stuck and cause us long-term problems.
The only way to keep bodily sensations (and emotions) fluid and healthy, is to go through the Processing Tantrum to the end. This means as boundary setters, we absolutely have to keep our own stuff out of the processing of the other person. (Well, as best we can, and let’s do better next time.) We do that by keeping ourselves calm and emotionally detached, and by understanding the other has to get through to the end of these tantrums in order to gain the benefits (which are many) from them, all the while – holding the boundary.
We do not become victims and make it all about us by saying things like:
1. I get upset when you say you hate me.
2. I do so much for you and this is how you repay me?
3. I just want to cry when you speak to me like that.
4. It’s not fair, stop picking on me.
We do not become rescuers and make it all about us proving to ourselves we are good parents/people, by reasoning with the other or debating with the other or continually explaining the situation.
We do not become persecutors and make it all about us being right or by trying to stop their processing by saying things like:
1. I will throw your snuggly in the rubbish if you carry on like this.
2. You won’t be able to sit with me at the dinner table or have a cuddle in bed tonight.
3. You are bad/naughty/stupid.
4. Don’t get angry, there’s no reason to be angry.
We do not become patronising gits and say things like:
1. You don’t hate me, you hate the power I have over you.
2. You are just processing a situation you’re not happy about.
3. You just need to get over yourself.
4. If you would only focus on being happy, it would all go away.
To help the other person to get through the process, to completion, we can do things like:
1. Stay physically present but otherwise occupied by folding laundry or doing dishes or some other chore. If you’re dealing with an adult, just get on with your life and out of the way.
2. Keep yourself calm by deep breathing or imagining a happy place.
3. Accept and believe this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them learning where the edge of their world lies.
4. Expect things will get worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse until a peak is reached, and then there will be a slow-ish decent to calm and acceptance.
5. Expect someone who loves you will want to emotionally reconnect and be ready to do so as soon as the other shows signs of this. (Warm non-intrusive eye-contact, physical touch, playfulness, asking for help to make things better, apologising sincerely, etc)
6. Expect the other to make the most effort in repairing the relationship for people older than eight years-old, and that you will make the most effort in repairing the relationship if they are younger than this. Even small children can at least walk over to you and give you a hug or help tidy up the tantrum mess they made. People are a bit funny like that – let them off scott-free, no effort involved on their part – and they don’t feel so good about themselves; have them make an effort and their sense of self increases.
7. Expect that every time you back down, the following tantrums will be more intense and last longer.
8. Expect that the more you hold the boundary this way, the fewer the tantrums will become, if no one else has interfered with their processing and over many months.
9. Expect their increased serenity, playfulness and maturity after the tantrum session. Expect greater acceptance of reasonable boundaries and perhaps some discussion around them. This later calm time, is the time to go into detail about why they cannot have ice-cream for breakfast, or throw things in the house, or hurt another child, or watch tv until 10pm.
10. Expect you will become less upset by hearing those words, “I hate you” and confidence in your parenting abilities to increase, as you really come to terms with understanding the process of boundary setting.
If we, the other or a third person interrupt the process of acceptance (of boundary or alternative view) then the sensations and emotions of hatred/anger/fear/sorrow get stuck. They become much more difficult to shift over time. It is only by going through and ending the process of acceptance that these can properly clear. Even appeasing the wounded person does nothing but embed the stress in their viscera and muscles. It’s only in completion that the pathways in the brain can join as they are meant to join, and greater maturity and understanding of the world can be gained. The positive side-effect is increased physical health.
For more innovative and science based information on tantrums you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there: https://www.createspace.com/3893965
‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle.