The way we are
“How was your day,” dad asks in a pretend voice that is chipper. But dad is not fooling anyone, especially not five-year-old Jackson who’s sitting in the back seat. Jackson can feel dad is tired, harried and preoccupied. Why else would he have been so late to pick him up from preschool?
“Fine,” replies Jackson, staring at the raindrops rolling down the window in the car. The radio is turned on to a news station. Traffic is slow moving and with the absence of a red sun, the evening is as gloomy as the picture he painted in art class this afternoon.
Jackson has had a rough day at preschool. Today the kids were rowdier than usual and the teacher didn’t smile as much in his direction. Jackson’s turn at the computer never came and the teacher didn’t make the other kids share enough. And the spring shower that lingered made everyone feel restless indoors.
Dad taps his fingers on the steering wheel and looks at Jackson through the rear view mirror. “How are you buddy?” Dad asks again, “did you have fun at preschool today?”
Jackson shuffles in his seat and repeats, “Fine, Dad.” They don’t talk again. Jackson doesn’t know what it is but he can feel that Dad is preoccupied with something.
As the two enter the front door of their home and Jackson is taking off his jacket he accidentally drops his lunch box on the floor and cracker-crumbs scatter all over.
…how do you react?
“How could you be so careless, Jackson?” yells Mom over the noise of the television and his little sister’s cry. Mom is tired and rushing around trying to put dinner on the table. “Get in here Jackson, wash up and come to the table. I’ll clean your mess later.”
Jackson knows better than to say anything. He bows his head in shame and goes to the sink to wash his hands. He feels the hostility in the house.
“That’s okay honey. Come get this and clean it up as best you can.” Mom smiles down at him while she picks up his little sister and takes her in for another diaper change.
Mom is tired and rushing around to get everything in order so that everyone can get to the table to eat supper. Jackson uses the brush as dexterously as he can and gets almost all the crumbs off the floor. He smiles up at Mom, pride beaming on his face.
Children learn how to deal with feelings that escalate from impatience to hostility by observing how their parents handle it themselves. But parents too can learn a few things from observing their children. Children come with the innate instinct for releasing tension. When they take off running, spend time role-playing, draw or spend time coloring, what they’re really doing is expending energy. It’s their default setting. They instinctively know that these kinds of activities serve to discharge frustration.
Our Children can become our teachers
Instead of losing ourselves in hostile behavior like yelling and shaming we could try dispelling our anger by doing something physical.
But say we’re locked up in a situation like at the opening of this post, where supper is sitting on the table and going off for a run is out of the question. What then? Well then we can turn our attention inwards and focus on taking a few deep breaths and slowly counting on our fingers. The difference will show on our faces.
The goal should always be to release tension and return to feeling in charge of the situation. And the best part is that focusing on our breathing, while that does away with tension, also sets a good example for our kids.
Kids are easy to read
They show their emotions on their faces and in their behavior. And how they cover it depends on what they learn from observing their parents.
Many times children don’t have enough words to express how they’re feeling, but if we observe them keenly we can almost always tell when they’re feeling frustrated or hurt.
Someone once advised me this way: “When we noticed a change in our children’s demeanor it’s a good chance to ask them “what kind of animal did you feel like at school today” how they reply can give us a pretty close picture of what their emotions were like during those few hours that we were not around.
This worked marvelously for me.
So now I want to pass this knowledge on to you. Ask them. You’ll feel the connection with your child and you can guide them to feel loved and appreciated after their long hard day out there in their new world in which they’re still learning how to navigate.
Happy parents = happy children = happy parents = Happy!
THANK YOU FOR READING. I HOPE YOU FOUND SOMETHING TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS ARTICLE. IF YOU LIKED IT, PLEASE CLAP SO OTHERS GET A CHANCE TO READ IT AS WELL. I’D LIKE TO CONNECT WITH YOU. DROP ME A LINE IN THE COMMENTS TO LET ME KNOW HOW THINGS ARE IN YOUR HOUSE. I’M NO EXPERT, BUT I’VE BEEN THROUGH IT ONCE ALREADY. PERHAPS I CAN HELP.
HAPPY IS THE WORD!