First, I want to say how grateful I am for my family. My family means home base, security, and safety. I want my son to feel the same and give him a similar experience on how I grew up. My parents are the best and, of course the best grand-parents a child could ask for. I love them so much.
Second, I am not a helicopter mom by any means. I am “normal” trying to get through this parenting business as easy as somehow possible. Keep all this in mind while you read on.
Today at Joel’s school:
As soon as I walked in the door at Joel’s school I just knew. I can immediately tell if he had a rough day. We are one – it is just insane sometimes. I can read him like an open book. He will walk up, say “Mommy” and slump onto me. His stressed little face breaks my heart, and for years, my first instinct was to try to make it better. You had a problem with a friend? It will be fine tomorrow, I am sure! Tough time on something else? You will figure it out! The teacher gave you a time out? You are still an awesome kid!
But, over time, I have realized what my son really wants: for me just to be there. Nothing else! I recently read a great article in the Washington Post, on how to teach a child do reset after a bad day without fixing their problems for them. Here’s what it said:
“Parents are taking so much responsibility for their children’s mood and spirit that it feels like it’s your job to reset as soon as possible,” says Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist and the author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Raising Self-Reliant Children. “It deprives them of the opportunity to be crabby and cross when they finish school or at the end of a day camp.” Part of the reason kids may be upset when they get home is that home is “the soft landing,” Mogel says. It’s the place they feel comfortable enough to get it all out. “They followed all those rules all day. They were polite to all the teachers. It’s exhausting”…
She suggests parents practice “reflective listening.” So, for instance, a child comes home and is frustrated after a tough day at school. The parent then should say, “Wow, it sounds like school was really overwhelming today.” Then the child says something else, and the parent reflects their feelings back to them. “Each time they feel heard, it brings the emotion down and they can see it for what it is,” she says.
Doesn’t that ring true? It works for us. Sometimes. Now, if my son is upset after a long day, I let him vent in a calm space
and hide in the bathroom with my phone. And a glass of wine. Or two. I’ll repeat back his emotions and validate his feelings. I’ve been surprised by how well that simple approach has worked. After getting things off his chest, he almost always feels better. Unless he doesn’t.
Happy parenting. I know it sucks sometimes. A lot.