As moms, especially new moms, our emotions can take over, reducing us to blubbering heaps of squishy, stretched out goo. Today I was reminded how big these same emotions are to my daughter.
Case in point, anger. When she’s overtired, hungry, or suffering from a “baby hangover” (baby jet lag essentially, lasting a day or two after a long trip), her anger can get the best of her when she doesn’t get what she wants. And while a tantrum is no doubt my absolute least favourite thing to deal with, I have to remind myself that anger for a four year old is a monumental emotion.
Kicking, flailing and screaming to the point of hoarseness is the only way she knows at this point to get out all that frustration. I think it’s time I introduce to punching pillow to her or something. But it’s important for me to stay calmer than her in these situations, recognize her anger, and try to guide her through the tantrum calmly, and most importantly safely.
Sure, she says “YOU’RE SO MEAN TO ME!”, “YOU’RE A BAD MOMMY!”, and the like. I’ve heard a lot of that, and I’m pretty good at removing myself from my responses now. “I’m sorry you feel that way, sweetheart,” I’ll say. And I’ll keep repeating that to her, acknowledging how she feels, but not apologizing for punishing her bad behavior. I’m her mother, not her friend. And I’m the adult, I have more patience than her…well, most of the time.
It’s important to pick your battles too. If she wants a third book at night, I’ll probably cave, but if it’s ten o’clock, pffffhhh, not on your life kid. Nice try.
I thought to myself today, driving her home while she’s kicking the back of my seat in a full on melt down, if I have trouble handling my emotions, how much can I really expect of my four year old daughter?
There are times when I’m tired right along with her and I just don’t have it in me, and I’ll yell for her to stop. Getting my frustration out feels good for me, feels even worse for her, and so round and round we go. Frankly, I amazed my husband has lasted this long.
I guess this post is really about both her and I dealing with big emotions when we’re not at our best. Maybe we can learn from each other and find better ways to keep our cool. How do you handle your kids’ melt downs? How about your own? Come up with any mommy hacks in your tantrum travels? I’d love to hear about them.