Kids need you through hard times and not just when they’re behaving well. Learn why you should keep your child close even through tantrums.
My three-year-old is not a morning person. While his brothers bounce out of bed eager to start the day, he prefers to lay tangled in his blankets. He’ll complain and whine, dragging his feet through using the potty and changing clothes. As you might guess, his grumpy mornings don’t make for a pleasant start of the day.
So the mornings when he’s pleasant and chipper run much more smoothly. I smother him with kisses and hugs. We laugh on our way to breakfast. I let a few things slide I normally would’ve raised my eyebrows at.
It’s easy to be with our kids when they behave and feel happy or excited. We’re more likely to sit and play with them when they don’t give us any trouble.
But the hard times when they’re not so pleasant? When they misbehave, whine and make crazy demands? Those days drain our energy. We can go from feeling excited about spending time with our kids to wanting to cancel all our plans for the day. We’re more likely to lose our temper and say something we’ll regret. Or we tell them to snap out of their mood and go to their room until they stop crying.
Be there through all their emotions
It’s natural to feel sour yourself when your kids feel down. Who wants to hang out with a whiny kid?
Thing is, you can’t pick and choose. Be there for them through all their emotions, even the hard times. Send the message that you won’t abandon them when they especially need you.
You see, your child needs your help during these challenging times. She’s scared she made you upset or feels guilty for spilling paint all over the floor. She needs guidance to calm herself down. And she wants to know she hasn’t done anything so egregious that she’s pushed you away.
You might wonder if giving your child attention will reward misbehavior. After all, aren’t we supposed to praise positive behavior and not fuel negative ones?
Being there for your child doesn’t mean condoning poor behavior. If you allow her to keep spilling paint all over the floor, then yes you’re condoning it.
But hugging your child, guiding her through a scuffle or not sending her to time out doesn’t reward her. She won’t think, Gee, that hug from mom felt nice. I think I’ll yell and scream some more.
You won’t reward misbehavior by being there for your child. Plus, kids also get attention when you yell or lose your temper. Which side of yourself would you rather they see?
Kids need you through hard times, too
Instead, don’t send your child away alone when she’s being frustrating. She needs you, now more than the times she’s cheerful and happy. Even saying something like, “I’m here when you’re ready to have me nearby” will help. Give her a hug—you don’t even need to say a word.
Show empathy as well. Let her know you understand how she feels. This validates all her emotions, even the difficult ones. It shows she isn’t alone.
And don’t rush your child out of her feelings. In an ideal world, we always feel happy and content. But difficult feelings like sadness, anger and anxiety will come and go. We can’t force kids to hurry up from feeling sad just as we wouldn’t others to do that to us.
What about your own emotions? Do you need to be chipper and happy as you’re dealing with a frustrated child? Not at all. We can’t pretend or deny our own emotions. It’s normal to feel frustrated and angry at your kids for behaving the way they do sometimes.
Don’t brush aside your own feelings because you think your child should see you happy all the time. Instead, remain calm. You can even admit you’re angry, and share the steps you’re taking to calm down. You can still be present with her as you help her calm down.
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. We want to lash out and throw a tantrum as well. But she needs you to be the anchor in her storm during these hard times.
Most of us will agree we love our kids unconditionally. But do our kids know that? We smother them with kisses during happy times only to send them away when they’re upset.
Be there for your child, through all her emotions. She’ll feel like all her feelings are welcome. You don’t pick and choose which ones you’d like her to feel, or withhold your affection when she’s upset.
She knows you love her no matter what. From tickle fests to tantrums, from “I love you’s” to hurtful words.
Your child will also feel like she can be herself. She doesn’t have to pretend or hide because she knows you accept her for who she is. The more confident she feels about your affection, the less she’ll misbehave.
It’s hard being with other people when they’re in a bad mood. It’s no wonder we respond just as cheerfully when others feel positive. And why it’s so tempting to mirror a negative attitude when others feel down.
But reassure your child you love her no matter what. That you’ll help her through her worst storms and won’t abandon her when she needs you most.
Even when she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.
5-Day Parenting Challenge
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Get more tips:
- Tell Your Kids You Love Them, Even when It’s Hard To
- One Technique to Finally Stop Yelling at Your Kids
- This is the Real Reason Motherhood Is Hard (Actually 6 Reasons)
- Dear Kids, Sometimes I’m a Horrible Mom to You
- When Your Child Seems to Ruin Everyone’s Day
Tell me in the comments: What were a few scenarios when you were there for your child’s hard times?
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