Since adolescence is right around the corner for my crew (12 boy, 10 girl, 8 boy), I have experienced a few, ahem, outbursts. The increased changes of mind and body can generate a spike in emotional energy, and suddenly without warning, a battle ensues.
My daughter in particular, the 10 year old, middle child, has recently become a little more prickly. Because I know that hormones are the culprit, I can simply respond to her with compassion, even when she behaves in a less than gentle manner. When it is aimed toward me, I say, “I don’t yell at you, so I would appreciate the same kind of respect.” She sometimes takes a pause, and reccaliberates, “Mommy, I am sorry for yelling, what I meant to say was….” And other times, she stomps off. I can only assume that she is going on a pilgrimage to some safe space to soothe herself. And that is ok. Upon her return, she is greeted with a loving welcome.
When the children have an emotional flair up, I don’t take it personally. And neither should you! When their heart is at war, I hit it head on with PEACE. I respond non-anxiously and let the WAR fall to the FLOOR. I don’t have to engage in a battle with a child. I really don’t. When I remain self-defined, their eruption carries no power. Kids need this, do they not? They need to know that we are strong enough to handle the full gamut of their emotion.
My mother [God rest her soul, 2002] was a great example of unconditional love. We always knew where we stood with her. She never took her love away from us regardless of our mood or attitude. And you know what – – we respected her for it. She was confident and full of grace. My mom is the one I channel during difficult emotional moments. I try to remember my own adolescent turbulence. I breathe, and muster up the tenderness these little ones need from me, to continue on in their journey.
My hope is, that at some point in their 20’s and 30’s, my children will look back and reflect on our time together. They will unquestionably say that their mom was consistent, tolerant, and gracious. That they were loved regardless of their actions or inner unrest.
C’mon mamas and papas, we can do this. We can get through these turbulent times together! Let’s lock arms and move forward. But please, I beg you. Don’t lash out at your child, whether they are 4 or 14. Don’t yell at them just to show them that you can yell louder. Be the adult. Be compassionate. Be aware. Show them that their turbulence is normal and that you understand what they are going through.
At the very least, you will give them less to talk to their therapist about when they get married and have kids of their own!