Once you’ve gained some understanding of your own feelings and reactions to the situation, as well as of your child’s perspective (and when both of you are calm!), it is time to share your findings with your child. A simple, sharing conversation may look like this:
“When you and I were arguing before, I noticed that things were getting out of hand. So I just needed to stop and take a breath. When I did, I realised that I was feeling really angry and frustrated. Then I thought, well, maybe you felt angry and frustrated too, maybe even sad because we were arguing. I don’t like feeling that way and I’m sure you don’t either. I’m sorry that it happened. There must be some way we can work this out. Let’s give it a go.”
Remember to remain empathic, compassionate and understanding throughout the conversation. The solution following conflict or challenging situations will be unique to the difficulties, but here are some helpful principles to remember:
Focus on what you as the parent can control
We may be tempted to try and fix everything for our kids, or to micro-manage our family’s problem-solving in a way that would put even Marie Kondo to shame! But this only creates resentment, sends the message that our children’s feelings really don’t matter, and stops the rest of the family from developing their own problem-solving and reasoning skills. Instead, allow your children to be part of the problem-solving process. You may even be surprised at the creative solutions they come up with.
Connecting and listening to those around us should always be our first priority. Our children’s behaviours can be so big and intense that it is difficult to see the emotions underneath. When this happens we are easily drawn into their emotional turmoil. But if we approach them (and their behaviours) with an attitude of empathy, compassion and understanding, we show them that their relationship with us is more important than their challenging behaviour.
Keep paying attention to your own emotions and those of your child
This point may be at the end of the article (well done if you’ve made it this far!), but it is actually one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our children. When we are aware of our own emotions as well as those of our children (as subtle as those emotions might be), we’ll be in a better position to recognise any changes in the intensity of those emotions. That means we’ll be able to Pause, Hold, and Engage earlier and before we become overwhelmed. More importantly, we’ll be able to coach our children through Pause, Hold, and Engage well before they reach the point of nuclear meltdown!
All the very best for maintaining a supportive, positive and fun atmosphere at your place! Right in the midst of modern life’s frantic pace, this lockdown has given us all a precious and valuable gift – time with the people we love. These locked-down days won’t always be easy, but every effort towards connection and relationship will absolutely be worthwhile – right here and now, but also long after we’ve fought this virus and the COVID-19 chapter of our history has closed. Kia kaha everyone! Caring for your family is a vitally important ‘essential service’. You’re doing great!