Why are kid tantrums often followed by parent tantrums?
We’ve all been there as a parent. Your little one wants something, the answer is no and they get that look. Its brewing! They explode in a fit of crying,snot, and screaming. Then it hits you. That “How dare you do this to me?!” moment. Now YOU are in full meltdown mode. Nothing has been solved and you both feel terrible. So my thought for the week (TFTW) is: why are kid tantrums often followed by parent tantrums?
We take it personally.
If you’re like me there’s a point where you take these moments personally. As if my kid is trying to turn me into a psychopath. Of course all children love to be screamed at and berated so this makes perfect sense. So what triggers this? Perhaps its different for everyone. Perhaps you feel that your authority is being challenged, or you think you’re being personally attacked. Maybe you’re late for soccer and you just don’t have time for this. Do you see the common thread in my examples? They’re all about me as the parent.
What about how my kid is feeling. Its so easy to trivialize what they’re going through. A lost balloon is not the same as job stress and a broken toy is hardly a missed bill payment. Except to them it is. We get a unique opportunity to help someone navigate life’s stress when its easy and the message we end up conveying is ” What you’re going through isn’t important to me.” What if you went to someone you love now as an adult and told them about a stress in your life and they told you it didn’t matter? How would you feel? Would you confide in them again? Never.
How did it come to this?
I think it boils down to the fact that we cant handle our own emotions let alone those of our kids. I think it also boils down to the fact that we expect children to constantly bend to our needs (do this, that, or the other thing because I say so, because I need you to.) We have already established that I’m no expert BUT I truly believe that we act this way because that’s how we were raised. Certain feelings thoughts or personal experiences were pushed aside to make room for the almighty parents agenda.
How many instances from your own upbringing can you recall where you were made to feel marginalized or made to feel like your feelings didn’t matter? We all have those moments and now we are repeating them in different ways and degrees with our own kids. I believe this is why kid tantrums often followed by parent tantrums.
Some Great Advice!
Recently I had the fantastic privilege of speaking with Rhea Lalla over the phone. She is a phenomenal parent coach, author and speaker. Her website: buildgreatminds.com is dedicated to “inspiring and supporting parents back to their intuition and healing whatever holds parents and children back from living into their best selves.”
She gave me some unreal advice. When you’re faced with these situations (tantrums etc) Rhea said the “ninja move in parenting” is to calm yourself. So often children do what we do not what we say. Certainly yelling at someone to be calm has never helped anyway. She said begin to focus on your own inner world so you don’t make their tantrum your own. To do this we need to “sit with our emotions.” We need to be aware of what we are feeling, where it occurs in our body, and then realize it will pass.
What Can You Do?
to accomplish this you will need to start to spend sometime on your own inner world. We discussed this in a previous post. Simply identify how you’re feeling. Do this when things are easy. Having a coffee, driving to work etc. Just start checking in. Now the next time your in that heated moment you can check in with yourself and gain control of your own emotions (you’re the parent after all you should be in control of your self don’t you think?). A super simple way to do this is to say in your head or out loud: I feel (insert emotion here), and I feel it in my (identify where in your body you feel it). Just be aware and experience that for a minute or two.
Our Job as parents is to help our children become adults. What does that mean? Does that mean just being able to hold down a job a do your taxes? Is life just a collection of tasks? No! No one ever teaches you how to think or feel. instead we constantly tell kids what to think and feel. We give no regard to their inner world. Helping them to understand the onslaught of emotion that we all face should be our number one concern. So often we as men try to solve problems. This has been for me a great way to help my kids sort out their emotions. By experiencing those feelings first and taking a few seconds to explore where they occur I’m better able to help them move past it without an epic blowout.
The current Covid 19 pandemic gives us an unusual opportunity to accomplish some of these things. We as adults are all worried about the current state of the world, our own health, jobs etc. Its freakin scary! How are your kids feeling about this? Do you talk to them about it? We now have time to stat digging into some of this. Take this opportunity to check in with yourself and your kids. You have a real choice here to come out of this better, worse, or the same as you were. You can help your kids build resiliency, grit and emotional intelligence.
My daughter is having some worries over whats going on so we came up with a little poem to help her experience her emotions, sit with them and realize they wont last.
I’m feeling (insert emotion here)
And that’s OK
I feel it in my (name body part where you feel it)
But it will go away.