Posted on April 26, 2018
Thank you for your thoughtful generosity. Thanks to you we can support moments of realisation like the one in todays story, below, and help guide the change that follows:
"It happened about two years ago, when I was fairly new to Hand in Hand Parenting.
We were in a toy store and my son, who was three at that time, knew the rule: he was allowed to choose only one toy at the time.
He looked carefully around him, taking his time and, when he felt ready, he made a decision: He chose a stegosaurus, although he would have liked the triceratops too, he made that crystal clear.
We left with the stegosaurus.
The day continued smoothly, with a play in the park, a stop at our favorite ice-cream shop and us holding hands and simply enjoying being together.
And then, out of nowhere, a storm arrived. “I want to go back! Back to the store! I want the triceratops! They can have the stegosaurus back! I do not want it anymore!”
When I tried to explain that we could not return a toy he had already played with, things only got worse. He kept crying more and more, then he started screaming and stomping his feet. I kept calm in the beginning, but soon after that, I became flooded with frustration at my own inability to “soothe” him, my own incompetence, as I perceived it at the time.
It brought me to the edge, and my own, so-called, “coping strategy” kicked in. I raised my voice at my son, yelling and hurrying him into the car.
I felt terrible afterwards so, just as soon as we arrived home, I tried a clarification. I am sorry that I yelled earlier, I said. I just want you to know that it was wrong of me to do that and that it is not your fault.
I looked him straight in the eyes.
“No problem, mommy,” he answered. “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes, even Thomas the Tank Engine!”
Although I was not an engine, I accepted his explanation and attempted to leave the room.
His little voice followed me.
“Only, the moon is upset, mommy. And the stars. And the sun will be, too, in the morning.”
Argh! So the entire Universe was upset with me?
That was the moment I decided that I really needed to get my act together. To figure out what was stopping me being the parent I wanted to be.
So here are some of the things that I have managed to learn here, at Hand in Hand Parenting, in my attempt to become a better, and more educated, parent:
Crying is not a parental failure, but rather a part of a recovery process: our children cry in order to shed some hurt feelings.
Often, children choose moments of extra-connection, happy times that help them feel safe and close to us, as opportunities to express old feelings of upset. All a child needs in those times, which Hand in Hand calls the “spoiled outing phenomenon,” is the caring and reassuring presence of an adult who listen.
When the child cries, his limbic system, the social and emotional center of his mind, is flooded with feelings and unable to coordinate communication between all parts of the brain. His prefrontal cortex, the seat of reasoning, stops working properly and as a result, the child cannot think. Giving advice and reasoning with the child at this time, like I tried to do, is not effective.
The child is busy doing the work of recovery and cannot process the information offered by the adult.
“When you listen to your child’s upset, his feelings will become intense, last awhile and then evaporate. His limbic system heals fastest when it has his full concentration, and yours, on this feelings. Then, feelings ejected and connection made, it rights itself” - Patty Wipfler.
With my newfound knowledge, I can only hope that the moon, the stars and the sun himself will give me a second chance!"
Please do scroll through the past updates for all of our inspiring stories of change. And thank you for investing in this change. When you change parenting, you can change the world.