For those of you who missed Part 1 in this series, you can read it here. In a nutshell, I am looking at how a guest post I wrote for The Parenting Passageway can be applied to a book study I am joining in on about love and anger in parenting. Love and Anger: The Parental Dilemma’s (by Nancy Samalin and Catherine Whitney) main goal is to discuss parental anger and how to best redirect it in a positive, meaningful way.
In my first post, I looked at what you should consider if you, as a parent, have had a less than peaceful reaction to your child and/or their behavior. Let’s now look at the second way I see my 10X7 Rule applying to this book study.
The second way that I see this rule applying is in how you reconnect with your child after your outburst What can you do immediately, in the next few minutes, in the next few hours, and so on to help your child understand, work through, and release their negative emotions towards you and what happened?
· Immediately: Change the expression on your face to something softer to help ease the fear in your child.
· In the next few minutes: Sincerely ask for forgiveness and say “I’m sorry” if you have lost control or acted in anger and rage. Provide a brief, age appropriate explanation of why you had an outburst. If your child truly did something that warranted a more stern, but not rage induced reaction (such as almost ran across a busy street), provide loving guidance about boundaries, safety, and your expectations. If your outburst had nothing at all to do with your child or their behavior (or was exacerbated by a rather insignificant action on their part) explain the reason behind your outburst. Perhaps you had a bad day at work, are not feeling well, or are angry at someone else.
· In the next few hours: Take some extra time to lovingly reconnect with your child. Tell them a story, color or paint with them, dance around the living room, play their favorite game, let them help you prepare the next meal, and the list goes on and on. Include them in an activity with you that maybe you would normally do by yourself. Just spending a little extra, meaningful time with your child will show them that yes, you do still have an abundance of love towards them. In addition, create an opportunity (perhaps through a story, play, or puppet show) to further explain or reiterate why you had the outburst that you did and that you love your child dearly and are sincerely sorry.
· In the next few days: Watch for any lingering responses to your earlier outburst. Evaluate just how deeply your anger affected your child. Help your child work through any unresolved emotions keeping developmental limitations in mind. A two year old may act out by throwing objects, yelling, or becoming overly frustrated. You will need to keep calm and peacefully hold the space for them while they reestablish feelings of trust and security towards you. An older child may act out directly towards you, their siblings, friends, or teachers. Gentle and loving discipline will be needed.
· In the next few weeks: Help children learn acceptable ways to express strong feelings. By modeling better communication techniques, you can start to undo what has been done. Remember, children learn through imitation and will undoubtedly follow your lead and express anger if that is what they see you do. Don’t wait until your anger and the child’s behavior are out of control. Go and set limits before the situation goes too far.
· In the next few months: Take a hard look at what your child does that pushes your anger buttons. Developmental stages, your child’s temperament, learned family patterns, communication abilities, and age can also present different challenges. It is our responsibility as parents to acknowledge where our child is at in life and how we can best parent them during this time. Once you have identified your hot buttons, explore avenues in which you can assist your child in avoiding those behaviors and responses which push you to your limit. In addition, work with your children to find a way that they can communicate a gentle reminder to you, to be a more peaceful parent. My friend’s three year old can tell when a storm is brewing and will simply go give her mom and hug and say “I sure hope happy mommy stays for a while longer.” Something that simple might just jolt you out of your soon-to-be explosion.
· In the next few years: Hopefully your child will not need years worth of reconnection! My hope is that you and your child will be able to resume a harmonious relationship quickly. However, if your child is having long term issues stemming from your angry outbursts, I personally would suggest professional guidance. There is nothing wrong with getting your child help outside of the family to deal with troubling situations and emotional responses towards them.
Hopefully that provides you with some good food for thought. I personally feel that taking the time to reconnect can truly do a world of good.
Until the next installment,