Ahh… the blues we get on Mondays. We welcome the weekend but then it’s only for 2 days. I don’t feel that it is enough, do you?
Today I picked up my daughter from her pre-school feeling very excited because I missed her. We hugged and kissed and the conversation was pleasant at first. Then she started to be difficult.
She was hungry so she asked for food.
She said she wanted us to stop by the shop to get her snack so she could eat on the way home.
I told her we were quite nearby to our house, so we did not need to get snack.
And then she started yelling.
I reminded her again that we were going to have brown noodles (dry wanton noodles) but she insisted on white noodles (mee hoon).
She demanded for a snack again, so I reminded her we have green apples and kiwis to eat after lunch.
Then she said she hates green apples and kiwis because they are sour. (These are her favourite fruits by the way)
The yelling continued until we got home.
After I parked my car under the porch, I turned around and playfully asked where her nice voice is. I pretended to frantically search for nice voice under her butt, under her arms, in between her toes, behind her ears, in her hair etc.
She laughed and she screamed. And laughed some more.
But she continued to yell at me.
I knew all along that it was a pretext for her to cry. I suspected something must have happened in school today.
Then I placed a loving limit. I told her that I was going to walk away because it’s not nice to be yelled at. And because the short play we had earlier paved the way for crying to occur from being connected, she immediately burst into tears.
So we got into the house, I put away everything and attended to her tantrum.
I lay down and faced her on the sofa. I said, “I see you are upset. Did you have a hard time at school today?”
In between her sobs, she nodded and said, “Yes… I had a hard time in school… Something happened today.”
Me, “Would you like to tell me about it?”
Sobbing becomes soft crying, “Lucas touched my darah (wound) a lot of times today. I told him to stop but he kept on pressing it. I didn’t like it.”
She scraped her knee and elbow from a fall at a birthday party yesterday (there is a whole blog post on that here), so she put on a plaster on her elbow to school. I suppose that boy Lucas was curious about the plaster design.
And then she cried some more with tears rolling down her cheeks. “There was also another thing that happened.”
Me, “Oh yeah? What is it?”
She said, “I didn’t eat anything during snack time because they served the sweet porridge that I don’t like.”
Ahh no wonder she was so hungry.
When she was done crying in my arms, she very calmly asked to have her lunch. And we ate peacefully together.
So what happened here?
Well, in Aware Parenting, we see difficult behaviours as red flag that our child is showing us that they are not feeling too good. We expect pre-schoolers to tell us with words because they are able to speak when they have a hard time. But this is not always the case.
When our child is having a hard time, they want us to connect with them even more without probing what’s wrong with them. Unfortunately, they let us know in the least favourite way for us.
If we fail to see this, we will always see this difficult behaviour from its face value. “Oh she’s acting up and she’s such a drama queen. Ugh. *roll eyes* She needs to be disciplined.”
Can you think of a time when you are exhausted or stressed out over something, and you lash out on people around you? Would you have thought to calmly told them that you are stressed out?
I dare say most of us do not do that.
Our heads are clouded with those stressed out thoughts, so our behaviour will show it, even if try to suppress it.
Children are no different, but they will show very trying behaviours at the most inconvenient times.
So they get demanding, and asks for ridiculous things – in Aware Parenting perspective, this is seen as a pretext to cry. Just like the example I have given with A2.
Crying or tantrum is to release the hurt and tension in their body. it’s their therapy to process the situation and heal from it.
We can surely distract them from it, but we are just postponing the need to cry.
Had I distracted her or took her to the shop for snacks, I don’t think we could have a peaceful lunch and I would have ended up yelling.
I just shared with you one of my secret parenting tools. I allow my children to cry, rage and tantrum as loud and as hard as they need to. I never ever leave them alone to do this like in a time out corner. I am always there to support them when they cry. Lots of cuddles and kisses during the storm when they allow me to get close.
Children will not cry more than they need to and will stop crying when they are done releasing. The more they are allowed to cry safely in our presence, the less they need to cry, be whiny, or difficult.
I have been doing this for the past 3 years. I’m so grateful for this tool. It has made my life so much easier as a parent!