Have you ever got home from a really crap day where EVERYTHING went wrong? You see that your darling partner has accidentally left the milk out of the fridge and you just LOSE it, ranting and screaming.
Seemingly this is over the milk being left out…
Has your child ever “flipped their lid” because you gave them the wrong coloured cup? One moment they seem happy and content and the next they are all kinds of crazy because you dared give them the green cup instead of the blue?
When Whining Can Be Good
Hand in Hand's approach sees these sudden outbursts as pretexts. They act like a fishing line that catches our suppressed big feelings and gives them a chance to be let out.
In today's society we have been trained to “keep it together.” That means staying positive, not crying and most certainly never feeling angry.
However, we are built to FEEL our feelings – to CRY our tears, to ROAR out our frustrations and to LAUGH away stress.
When we “keep this all together” we are actually only keeping it all caged inside, and before we know it something gets those feelings stirred up and they all come tumbling out.
Our children are really no different. When our precious gems begin to “lose it”‘over the colour of their cup, we can take it as a really big clue that something is not quite right in their interior world.
We don't always have to figure out what is causing the hurt.
What we can do is LISTEN.
Listen to the BIG feelings that come tumbling out, acknowledge that your little one is hurting and be right there with them through the hard moments.
Why We Should Embrace A Tantrum
Hand in Hand's wonderful tool of Staylistening teaches us what to do in these moments:
Stay Close: We move in close so they can FEEL our love and attention.
Keep Quiet: Being there is far more important than anything we might say. Often, when our feelings are so big, we literally cannot access the thinking part of our brain and so words may not get through.
Wait it Out: We don't try and distract them away from their feelings with promises of other coloured cups or sweets or games. We stay with them and their feelings until the last tear has been cried.
When we speak, our tone and intention is most important. Our children need to be able to feel that we are right there, right by their side, to help them through this hard moment.
Words like, “I'm sorry things are so hard” and “I'm going to stay right here with you,” give them the support they need to rage and flail and clear away the dark feelings.
We as parents can use these moments to nurture and strengthen our connections.
Seeing the Signs
It can be hard to gauge where your children are on the connection scale. In parenting, things aren't always what they seem. PRETEXTS are a sure sign that children do need to unleash big feelings that get in the way of them being able to think and act well.
We understand that if we are there to support our kids through these big feelings that they will be able to think and act well again, and these hurts won't be stuffed down and caged.
So when your child asks for the blue cup instead of the green, don't hurry to change it and avoid the whining and tears. Instead, try moving in and embracing them.
What a gift to be able to allow our children to access, feel and heal from their hurts.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
Find out what a pretext looks like in action in this post Setting Limits: Saying No To The Yellow Bowl
Would you like help saying no and setting loving, playful limits? Join us for this free parenting call Setting Limits without Yelling and Threats
Skye Munro is a Certified Hand in Hand Parenting by Connection instructor in Victoria, Australia. Skye is the mother of a son and a daughter and has 15 years experience as a Child Services Educator. You can connect with Skye on her Facebook page.