When was the last time you did something for yourself? This could be the source of your short fuse moms!
Fried, frazzled & freaking out more than you feel proud of? It’s easy to feel this way these days. We’ve had to adapt to a radically new world, there are more responsibilities on parents than ever before & there is stress that comes with the unknown economic & health implications of a pandemic on our families.
When we are at our wits end, frazzled or totally fried we tend to freak out on the ones we love the most, the ones least able to defend themselves, our kids. I am no stranger to this & am not proud to claim many of these moments throughout the years.
The damage in these moments of emotional immaturity & insecurity leaves an indelible imprint on a child’s self esteem, they’re left no option other than to believe that it must be their fault.
We take out our scariest feelings on them because we feel it’s safe, knowing that a child has no means to leave us (our greatest fear!) The risk however is that if they can’t leave us physically, they can leave us emotionally.
While we typically wish to forget these unflattering moments, how we recover from these inevitable events is what will make the difference between our child feeling disconnected or connected to us.
It’s ok to freak out!
It’s NOT ok to pretend it didn’t happen.
Going back to address our own bad behaviour will not only help your child see that your outburst had nothing to do with them, it will also set the example for them to own their behaviour & show them that you are human, not a hero!
Though it can’t undo all the damage, it is a crucial step in repairing some of the disconnect. It is also crucial in helping you understand why it happened in the first place.
If you aren’t able to figure out why the eruption took place on your own, remember that ANGER IS ALWAYS ROOTED IN HURT, FEAR OR FRUSTRATION but here are a few more specific reasons why we lose it!
TOP 10 REASONS MOMS LOSE IT:
1 ~ Our emotional needs have not been met, we feel unheard or devalued.
2 ~ Our physical needs have not been met, we're tired, hungry or not feeling well.
3 ~ We are over-functioning, taking on other peoples business.
4 ~ We are unclear of our wants & needs.
5 ~ We are overwhelmed.
6 ~ We are burned out.
7 ~ We feel out of control.
8 ~ We are stuck in shame, guilt, blame or judgement.
9 ~ We are scared or anxious.
10 ~ We have asked over & over & over & something persists!
If we neglect our most basic needs we will find ourselves at a loss for words to communicate effectively & BOOM! We go off like a grenade! We feel horrible about it & then the guilt & shame lead us back into a vicious cycle that will end up leaving us fried, frazzled & freaking out!
Lindsay Lal C.C.P.C.
As parents we go out of our way to keep our children physically safe & we like to think that we protect our child from the harsh reality of the outside world, but when it comes to their emotional safety & wellbeing, are we helping them or is it possible that in they may not feel safe in their own home?
Our most basic human needs are to feel safe, to belong & to exert competency in some area of our life. As a child that safety is communicated through connection, an unspoken energy that says “I see you, I hear you & you’re not alone in this world.” You’re an essential part of this community or tribe.
A lack of connection almost always manifests in a child as a behavioural issue. As adults, if we continue to experience an ongoing lack of connection, we see the behaviour morph into addictions as a way to numb ourselves & cope with the pain of feeling completely alone in this world.
When it seems as though nobody understands us, or our pain, we begin to hide in a blanket of shame, the mere thought of sharing our true feelings becomes terrifying. We attach & cling onto anything outside of ourselves that we believe might bring us the sense of security that we’re so desperately looking for, even when we know that thing is not serving us.
Imagine the burden of not feeling able to share the pain of feeling rejected with your own parent, your tribe. What can we do to build a connection with our child where they feel safe enough to come to us instead of hiding in shame?
Much disconnection is caused by the damage inflicted when well intended parents discipline their children. We resort to unconscious ways of shaming, blaming, attacking or giving orders as a way to get our child to do what we believe is truly best for them. While it often works, the scars tend to never fully heal. I’m sure most of us can still recall many of these “teachable” moments that continue to hurt us today.
But “I have to discipline my child” you argue, “how will they succeed if I don’t teach them?” The problem is, what are we really teaching them by nagging, barking orders, labeling them, taking sides, or making them feel badly? ~ “Mom & Dad don’t trust me to make my own choices”, “I’m not smart enough”, “I’m not capable”, “It’s always my fault”.
Of course none of us would ever intentionally want our child to feel these thing but the fact remains that we are all guilty of having implied any one of these things at some point in a fit of reaction.
When we lose it, we become ashamed of ourself, as a parent, for not having the ability to communicate our expectations in a mature, reasonable way, so that our child will cooperate. But how could we? What school teaches us, or where is it modelled how to speak to a child in ways that promote a healthy self esteem? This vicious self deprecating cycle of anger, blame & shame eventually infuses into our child.
The greatest gift we can give our kids is a healthy self image. We can do this by learning how to manage our own emotions, trust that our children are capable beings & respond to them in ways that allow them to feel safe around us.
Here are a few suggestions to try out:
~ Instead of jumping in with an answer, leave time to let them solve their own problem.
“I see, you have a test you’re not ready for & a game that you really want to go to, hmm.”
~ Instead of barking orders or threats, try giving them a choice or negotiating.
“Wet towels need to go on hooks or in the hamper, you decide."
~ Instead of running away from scary feelings, model feeling feelings, without having to take them away.
“It feels really bad when a friend pretends that you're not in the room.”
~ Instead of nagging , try writing a quick, note.
“I like to be with my friends in the toy room! Love Peppa Pig”
~ Instead of shaming, try pointing out a way to be helpful.
“It would be really helpful if you could walk the dog, I need to make dinner."
~ Instead of assuming your child knows, describe & state your expectation
“Milk goes sour when left out, I expect it to go back in the fridge when you’re done.”