Wouldn’t it be great if instead of meltdowns, eye rolls, tantrums, harsh words or rebellious behaviour our child would just tell us when they’re struggling?
“ Mommy I’m tired & need to go to bed.”
“ I don’t have the hand eye coordination to tie my shoe, so I’m feeling frustrated.”
“ I need to feel safe right now because I’m afraid that you’re going to leave again.”
“ Mom, could you please stop talking because I really need to feel heard right now.”
“ My prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed yet so I don’t have the ability to organize my homework.”
This would make our lives so much easier wouldn’t it? But how many of US have actually have these insights or have learned how to communicate this way?
Sometimes we just react and don’t even know what we’re upset about. We don’t always have the words or ability to articulate what’s going on inside us & consequently our own behaviour doesn’t always reflect how we really feel but thankfully, our kids don't hold that against us!
Instead of articulating our needs, frustration or inability to do something, we end up doing damage control to repair our immature outburst & then feel guilty about not being able to respond differently, ending up in a downward spiral of shame.
When our needs go unmet we become resentful, bitter, & exhausted from filling everyone else’s needs or if we don’t have the skills to help our child with their school work we may become defensive & angry, instead of the helpful Mom we wanted to be. In other words, when we have unmet needs or lagging skills we do poorly as a Mom & so do our children.
It’s a child’s nature to please. They want to do what we’re asking of them, so if they aren’t, we need to become detectives & figure out what’s going on.
When we see children through the lens that they’re misbehaving because they “want to” then we see them as giving us a hard time. When we see them through the lens that they’re misbehaving because they are “unable” to do what we are asking, we see them as having a hard time.
When you’re having a hard time it’s not helpful for someone to tell you that you can do better, when it’s quite evident to you, in this moment, that you cannot. It’s the same for our child when they are misbehaving.
In that moment there is usually an unmet need or an inability to perform the task required of them. Through a lens of compassion & empathy, we are much more willing to help them learn a new way or to connect with them so they are able to feel safe & loved enough to be able to learn or express themselves.
If you’re having a hard time with something right now, have a little compassion for yourself. It’s not easy being a Mom with the complexities of the world we live in, but it is possible to learn skills that can help you feel good about your behaviour!