“So?” I asked
“HMMFFF” she replied.
“Wasn’t good?” I asked.
She was fighting back tears.
“It was terrible! We didn’t even get to swim more than half a width!”
“Oh!” I replied
“My group just had to watch everyone else swim. It was SOOO annoying.”
“Oh sweetie, you were so excited, and you didn’t get to swim! That is annoying!”
“SOOO annoying! Sarah got moved up a group and spent the whole time bragging about it. I just had to sit on the benches with my group and watch everyone else swim and listen to Sarah go on and on!!!”
“Oh! That must have been SOO annoying, and for your good friend to brag like that!”
On the way to the car with my daughter clearly upset, tears welling up, verging on a full-blown tantrum, my friends couldn’t help but notice her distress.
Their comments went something like:
- “Ah, don’t worry. You’ll swim next week.”
- “It’s just this week when they work out the groups. Next week I’m sure it will be fine. You’ll see, you’ll swim the whole time.”
- “I’m sure if you practice more and concentrate you will move up a group, too!”
- “It’s nothing to cry about.”
We mean well
We don’t want our kids to suffer, do we? We want to offer them logic and reasoning and reassure them while getting the crying and upsets to stop as quickly as possible. It can feel uncomfortable watching our children cry, especially when it happens in public.
Like us, our children need to feel heard, before they can move on
Language of Listening®, the 3-part coaching model I use and teach, focuses on coaching our child to succeed in controlling and working through their own upsets and emotions.
When we validate our child’s experience, not rush them through their upset or try and fix the situation for them, we support them to:
- Succeed in managing their own emotions and upsets.
- Find their own solutions.
- Know that we understand them.
- Know we’re their safe place to come to express their emotions and upsets.
One of the premises of Language of Listening® is everything children do and say is a communication, and children must continue to communicate until they are heard.
This cuts tantrums short – here’s how
When a child is upset about something, and we go straight into validating her experience, she feels heard, and the communication gap closes. She doesn’t need to escalate her behaviour in order to show us what she’s trying to communicate.
The added benefit is we free her up to move on to find solutions to handle her own upsets.
I remind myself: My daughter can be upset. Something she was looking forward to for weeks, didn’t go to plan. I would be pretty miffed too! I relax in the knowledge that it isn’t my role to manage her reactions and that she’s learning to manage her own upsets.
When we listen with empathy, emotions pass more quickly, arguments vanish and tantrums dissipate.
Here’s the good news
As soon as we climbed into the car, the floodgates opened. I watched as my daughter worked through and let go of her frustrations. She knew just what she needed to calm down.
Ten minutes later as we walked through the front door, she was smiling and ready to go play.
As hard as it can be to watch our children suffer, we can rest easy knowing that every upset is a chance for them to practice and strengthen the skills they need to manage their own emotions.
When children are able to regulate their emotions, not only do they become easier to live with, they’re less helpless to the stresses of everyday life. Research also tells us, this is key to preserving healthy relationships and having the ability to focus and achieve academic success.