In a battle of wits and mental endurance: the younger the child, the greater the stamina.
This is my second post in the series, “Who is in control”. We’re talking about the dynamics of family (in my case, a family of six) and my quest to not screw up my kids so much that they need professional help…
“Who is in control of you? It’s not me. I can be, if you want me to be, but that’s not the best answer answer. That’s right…YOU are in control of you!”
When it comes down to it, we are only ever supposed to control ourselves. Our different levels of authority in life will mean we have varying levels of authority within certain boundaries, but in the end, we are always in control of our body, our thoughts and our emotions.
The longer we believe someone else is in control of us, the more powerless we allow ourselves to become. It’s like self-inflicted catch-22.
From the day-naught, we started teach our kids two very important life-lessons: “Control your emotions” and “Maintain a happy heart”. You may not be able to control your environment, and you certainly will never be able to control the actions of those around you, but you are always able to control how you will respond within that environment. Control your emotions and maintain a happy heart.
Kids, being kids, will always reach a moment in time when the world seems to come crashing down around them and all hope is lost. Whether it’s hunger pains or the sound of the evil “N” word (“no” or “nap”, take your pick), something will inevitably trigger a cyclonic rush of emotion and tears.
Here’s my take on the matter: I don’t actually have a problem with my kids freaking out, screaming, stamping their feet or holding their breath. What I do have a problem with is when it disturbs my calm or that of those around me. In these instances, when my children cannot fully appreciate the depth of their social responsibility, I tend to limit the range of their outburst. I don’t want to teach them that showing emotion is wrong, but if they are around others, they need to control HOW that emotion is displayed. If they cannot, a more appropriate venue will be chosen (like their bedroom, for instance, with the door shut) where they can wail and moan and gnash their teeth until they are ready to talk about their problem and enable me to help them to solve it.
Here’s the important part: this is not a time out. Nor is it any form of discipline whatsoever. It is simply them choosing to not control their emotions and handing over that control to me. They can have it back whenever they want. They just need to show they are ready to handle it again. Their door isn’t locked and they can come out whenever they like. Sometimes it’s five minutes, other times it’s a lot longer. I’m not too worried, though. I know they’ll figure it out. And if they need help, I’m only in the next room.
On occasion, we have been known to help them find their ‘happy hearts’, which can sometimes be lost in the strangest of places.
So what’s your take on this? Does your child ever lose the plot or is that just ours? How do you handle the tantrums, toy-throws and dummy-spits? Or do you just put in the noise-cancelling headphones and listen to Adele (which, I admit, is not a bad idea!)?