Confession: I lost my temper this weekend …
I was tired and seven year old Anton was worried about putting his dessert bowl away and it was a pandemic winter and I just snapped.
“Anton, ugh !!! I don’t wanna hear it! “I screamed.” Go to your room! Right now! Enough!”
He stormed away in tears.
I sat there on the sofa and knew that I had overreacted. At first I felt guilty. But do you know what is funny? My friend Lina Perl, a brilliant therapist and mother of two, says these “breaks” can actually be a good thing.
“I speak to a lot of people who feel like bad parents when they yell at their children, but good parents make mistakes all the time,” she told me. “You will get angry with your children, they will hurt your feelings and vice versa, you will lose it with them. No two people are ever fully attuned to one another. “
And it indicates that these conflicts are indeed necessary. In this way we teach children to deal with the difficult emotions of being disappointed, disappointed, scared, etc. After that, you have the amazing opportunity to reconnect or “fix”.
What does repair mean?
You want to go back to your child when it is quieter, explains Lina: “Say: ‘I didn’t feel good today when I screamed. I was really frustrated but I don’t want to scream like that and I’m sorry if I scared you. ‘At that moment, you acknowledge your and their role. And give space: ‘Was that scary for you? How did you feel?’ You re-establish the connection. You’re basically saying, I’m a good person, you are a good person, we all try our best. “
In doing so, Lina explained, you are doing two powerful things:
1) You model what it is like to take responsibility for your actions. You don’t have to pretend it didn’t happen, and you don’t have to apologize aggressively. They model what a healthy repair looks like.
2) You reconnect with your children. Imagine if your own parents came back and said, Wow, I don’t feel good about what happened. We talk. How beneficial would that be? How much better would you feel You help them feel like good people, and you show that even those who lose are good people – you can try again and again. You show them that they too can lose it at times, and they can come back and fix it!
There’s no perfect way to do this – but if the feeling you all end up feeling is that your experience is being recognized, then you did a great job. “Just circling back and trying to reconnect after something like this is SO BIG,” says Lina.
So I knocked on Anton’s bedroom door.
“Mummy?” said his little voice.
“I’m sorry,” I told him. “Can we talk?”
Thoughts? Do you ever apologize to your children? My mom once apologized for overreacting when I was five years old and I’ve always remembered that.
PS How to be a better listener and talk to kids.
(Photo by Cheryl Rosaria / Stocksy.)