How to Lovingly Guide Children Through Difficult Emotions

My nine-year-old's mood changes are fast and furious these days.

It feels as though one minute we're blissfully dancing in the rain puddles at the park and then suddenly, without warning, we're in a lightning storm, and I'm hanging on for dear life to the metal merry-go-round.

Sound familiar? 

It's jarring, triggering, and entirely maddening.

"I just wanted things to be calm. Why is she being like this?"

These are the thoughts that raced through my mind recently. After having what I thought was a lovely after-school chat, she grabbed my phone, refused to return it, and pushed me away, saying she didn't want me near her.

I started feeling threatened and resisted her irritation with more irritation. You can guess how well that went.

But most importantly, I almost missed the opportunity to connect more deeply with her and find out what was provoking her distress.

Luckily, I caught myself and took a few deep breaths. Then, I plunged into the deep end of her feelings. 

"I love you so much, and if anything is bothering you or weighing on your mind, I am here to listen. You can tell me anything."

I didn't expect the wave of tears that followed, but her relief was visible.

"None of the kids at school ever want to finish the plays we start. They always quit. Why doesn't anyone take it as seriously as I do?"

She nestled her head into my shoulder. I refrained from giving advice or reasoning with her and just held her until she sent me a signal that she was ready to move on. 

After a few minutes of silence, she re-emerged, wiped away her tears, and hugged me.

"Thanks, Mom. I feel better now."

This burden she was holding seem as though it had nothing to do with the behavior she was exhibiting. 

But, if I had taken her behavior at face value, I would have never understood the pain and frustration that was hiding in the shadows.

There is no handbook, set of rules, nor one “magic” technique that works every time. Conscious parenting is about relationship, connection, and communication.

The feeling of security that comes from being connected to an open, loving, tolerant adult is essential for children to thrive and learn resiliency.

When you are ready to hold your children's pain in your hands and listen deeply with your heart, they will be eager for you to show them a new way. 

I'm glad I took a moment to calm myself and gain a new perspective.

A mom in our Facebook group recently shared a similar story. Her 7th grader was "feeling sick" and not wanting to go to school. Mom took that deep-dive into her daughter's emotional world and learned something much more significant about her daughter's experience at school.

What about you? Have you been able to dig deep to uncover what's motivating your child's behavior? 

Share your story in the comments - you might just help another parent who is struggling to understand their child.

Until next time, please remember, it's about being conscious - not perfect.

Talk soon,

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About Lori

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