Parenting is hard. Why doesn’t anyone call it for it is?
Last week I was walking through the grocery with my 6 and 8 year old when a teachable moment presented itself in a not so shiny wrapper. The kids and I were headed down the frozen food section and immediately they took off for the open freezers. My daughter starts squealing with excitement about the cold ice crystals she’s scraping off the metal vents in the freezer. Living in Florida we rarely get opportunities to scrape ice off of anything. “Icees,” she shouts with excitement. They both continue scraping off little ice pieces while dodging customers.
Here we go. It’s the simple things, right?
I continue to pick up the grocery items I need and then call for both kids to follow me.
Of course, NO.ONE.HEARS.ME.
I pick up a few more items, turn around, and there they are peeking their heads around the corner. Laughing.
The giggles and laughing continues.
I get it. However, this was not the plan. In my mind, I had planned for a quick trip through the store.
I could feel the patience leaving my body.
They finally came up behind me and started squabbling over who was going to ride on the cart.
Really? I turn and start towards checkout. Then, all of a sudden my 6 year old bursts into tears.
Daughter: “I did NOT!!” she yells.
Son: “You did too.”
I’m not in the mood for this today.
Me: “Kids. We made an agreement before we got out of the car to get along. Are we supporting that agreement?”
Daughter: “NOOOOO!” she wails.
My brain in racing. What is going on!?
You know when you’re in that moment and you just need help? You just want someone to jump in and just flip a switch and smooth things out. That’s exactly what I needed.
And it’s exactly what happened. I had a moment of clarity. I distinctly remember recalling my default tool. An acronym for a 5 step process called S.H.I.F.T. It supports a child having big feelings/emotions and helps you SHIFT the situation. Worth a shot. Here I go.
I started with the “S.” STATING what I was observing.
I got down to my daughters level. “I see that you’re angry. What’s going on?” Just then, she burst into tears again and said. “I HAD THE WORST DAY at school ever.”
Me: “Oh, Wow.” What happened?
Daughter: “My friends didn’t include me in free play at recess. I feel hurt. I really missed you. I just want to go home!”
She continues on, I ask some more questions and then within a minute she hugs me and dries up her tears.
Wow, what did I just witness?
I just watched my daughter process her feelings by allowing her a space for her to feel heard and felt. I refrained from judgement and allowed her to process. How quickly things shifted.
Just then my son came over to apologize and hug his sister.
Son: “Sorry mom. We should’ve listened better and followed our agreement.”
Wow, is this really happening.
Me: “Thanks, Buddy. I really do need your support on following through on agreements.”
Son: “I will do better next time, Mom.”
What a sweet outcome. Seriously, I had not expected for this to happen. My parenting practice seems to evolve daily.
As I reflect on the situation, I see now that my daughter’s outburst was actually the result of something deeper. It wasn’t about her brother or following the agreement, it was actually about something that happened earlier in the day at school. Something that was really bothering her.
Crazy, right? It’s important to understand that our children’s behavior is always a result of a need. A need that is being met or not net.
As a parenting coach, I share my own values, advice and tips with my clients. And I’m reminded daily that parenting is a practice that when done with the right tools can have powerful outcomes.
When I first started this parenting journey in 2006, I was given tips and advice from just about everyone that had interacted with a child. I’m sure you can relate, right? Over the years, the advice and messages have morphed into my own way of living, teaching, and parenting my children based in holistic living and love.
Are you ready to learn how to create more peace this year? Learn more here