By Renée Kendley
We all lose our cool with our kids sometimes. We are human, after all. But, we can run into problems if it happens over and over again. It can affect our child’s growing sense of self and lead to a deepening sense of disconnection between parent and child.
So, what can we do to repair the damage?
It is essential to recognize that it is your job as parent to initiate the reconnection. It may be difficult for a child to approach a parent who has acted in a frightening manner. If you feel ashamed of your behavior, you may want to just pretend it never happened. But this won’t help your relationship with your child.
The first step is to calm yourself down. Step away from the interaction. It doesn’t have to be for very long, but you do need some space. Go outside if you can, move your body, take 10 deep breaths, or make yourself a cup of tea—whatever it takes to calm down.
Second, reflect on what has happened. Ask yourself, “Why did I react this way? What was my emotional trigger?” and then decide how to approach your child.
Third, approach your child. If you feel rebuffed at first, don’t give up. Your child wants to be back in a warm and positive relationship with you. So make sure to try again later.
Get down at your child’s level. A younger child will want to be physically close to you. An older child may prefer that you keep a little distance at the start. Then, address the experience in a neutral way: “I hate it when we fight like this. I really want us to feel good about each other again. Let’s talk about it.”
Reconnecting is not just about saying you are sorry. You may choose to apologize, but it is more important that you allow space for each of you to share your feelings with one another. Talk to your child about how people, even parents, have meltdowns sometimes where they don’t act rationally.
Younger children may need help making sense of what happened through role playing, puppets, storytelling, and drawing. Older children may respond better to a discussion of what has occurred.
But, your primary focus is to reconnect. Let your child know that you are still there for them and that the relationship is not damaged.
Renée Kendley, M.Ed., is a certified parenting coach committed to helping parents defuse their emotional triggers, and let go of yelling, threats, rewards, and punishments to discover the ease of parenting with gentle and loving authority. 251-604-2545. www.peacefulparentingpath.com
Read Parenting From the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.
Effects of Anger on Your Children
The Peaceful Parenting Path