One afternoon when I was picking up my 1st grader from school, his friends told me he had a bad day. According to them, he was tripped many times in PE and got excluded in the playground as he “bended” the rule and received, “You are fired!” from others.
I talked about my feelings about this with my listening partners as I was bullied at his age.
My son was certainly cranky the last 10 days or so. I talked with his teachers and my husband about it. I gathered information from other parents too. His teacher dismissed it, said it was nothing.
A couple of days after his friends told me he had a bad day, My son was speaking harshly to his little brother. I went in and reminded him that we would want to speak kindly to each other. Instantly, he went into a big struggle and crying.
I harnessed him, reflecting inside if I had the right mind to do this. My Listening Partnership earlier really helped, as I now had more attention available.
I hoped I was doing the right thing even though I was worried if someone were to come in and see us, that they might think I was hurting him.
I made sure he was safe, safe from furniture, safe from me, and safe from himself. I spoke to him, “I want to hear more about what happened today.” More thrashing. “You can say I can play by the rule, let's do that again!” I almost got hit and kicked really hard. “I know you are a good boy.” More screaming and intense feelings. Then he stopped crying and thrashing, coming into my arms sweetly.
This was all while I had to be cooking dinner. Rice and curry turned out to be a bit chewy as I couldn't attend the stove. However, my son ate a lot and he was in a good mood. He was relaxed, sweet and cuddly all evening. He would give me small presents and even offered me a massage going to sleep, even though he is the one who normally gets one.
My son didn't share much about school events verbally. What he shared with us grownups was that he actually liked what happened to him. His body language seemed to tell me otherwise, but his teacher saw nothing problematic.
When I paid attention to him, his tone of voice, body language, and his mood, it told me something else. His daily crankiness and his friend’s story gave me a small clue to what may be bothering him.
I wanted to tell him that I loved him, that he was a good boy, that he could be himself and still find a place in this world and change the world. I am glad I now can convey that, instead of having just another cranky child receiving a lecture, a time-out or a yell if I hadn't known better. I am grateful that my son and I feel closer at the same time he feels more relaxed and confident.
—Keiko Sato-Perry, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor
Join Keiko in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding online class starting April 22. Register now!
Listen to a podcast of a recent teleseminar “Parenting: Going Deeper”, in which Keiko presented.