Is your child "sensitive"? Do they cry at the drop of a hat? When they can't find their shoes, do they yell and scream? When they lose at sports do they have a tantrum? How about when their sibling says something mean to them, do they go to anger in a second? It's enough to drive us out of our skin some days, isn't it? It's hard to slow down and figure out what's going on when the kids are pushing our buttons left and right!
Yes, all those situations really are enough to push our buttons. How can you empathize with a kid who is screaming and yelling when they do it DAY AFTER DAY??? This isn't a one time thing, is it? It happens ALL THE TIME! You start cringing when your day opens up with your challenging child whining and complaining. It makes you want to pull the covers over your head. I agree that this is all too much for us to handle some days but I want to encourage you to persist... it's really, really important that you learn to use EMPATHY and learn to use it well. In the long run, empathy will save your family from all sorts of trauma as your kids grow. It's hard to believe but, it's true.
What can you do?
1 - BREATHE AMD CHILL -Take a breath and chill out. Calming yourself down is SUPER important. If your brain is activated into an emotional state you are shutting down the only way weapon you have in your tool box -- your brain. Sometimes you will need to get yourself to a "safe" place where you can chill out. You can ask your spouse to take over for a minute, take a walk around the block or, if that's not an option, then just shut yourself in the bathroom. Yes, your kids will be pounding at the door to get to you but the wait will be worth if for them if the result is a calm mommy or daddy.
2 - ACTIVATE YOUR BRAIN - Here's the part where, once calm, you might be able to take a bigger view of the picture of what's going on. Little kids don't have many skills in their little toolboxes -- whining, crying, kicking, yelling, screaming. Older kids can throw in skills like guilt and shame -- "You're the WORST mom!" or "Dad, you're so mean. I don't love you!" and even, "None of my friends like you, you have such bad taste!". We need to THINK where those thoughts and feelings are coming from instead of reacting to the emotion they are producing.
- Why is my 3 year old peeing in the corner when they are already potty trained? Could it be that we just had a new baby and they are seeking attention from us? Or maybe I've been traveling or working so much they don't get to see me and the only time they get my attention is when they're misbehaving?
- Why is my 2nd grader getting pulled out of recess for aggressive behavior? Could it be that they're feeling powerless with their friends or they feel they have to win a game at any cost? They might have a raging fire of anger building every time they go to school and it comes out on the playground. Have I missed this?
- Why is my tween yelling at me when all I did was clean their room? Could it be they thought I violated their space? That I threw out something that I didn't know was precious to them?
- Why is my teen not talking to me when clearly they violated our policy of no driving in cars with other high schoolers who don't have a year of driving under their belt? I took away their phone for a week and now they won't even talk to me they are so angry. Could it be they think I just ripped their lifeline from them?
4 - AFTER THE EMOTION - once you have loved your child unconditionally through whatever the crisis was then and only then would you work to figure out a solution to the triggers that set off their emotion. You would BRAINSTORM to figure out the why and what caused them to go ballistic. When that toddler pees in the corner, you'd give them love at the time and have them clean up the mess in a calm and loving manner. Then, later that day, you'd ask what was up with that. At that young age they probably won't be able to tell you much but I would certainly recommend spending some one on one time with that child so that they feel unconditionally loved, not shamed for peeing in the corner. Look on it as a learning experience for your child to learn to clean up messes.
That teen who feels you've ruined their life for taking away their phone needs to know that you love them and won't yell back during times of disrespect, that you love them too much to engage in a yelling match. But, after the issue has settled down you are welcome to circle back to let them know that you love them too much to let them treat people badly and they need to make that up to you. The older the child, the longer this time between emotion and repair can take.