Welcoming a tantrum? It sounds unusual, but here's why I was grateful for my son's meltdown...
Hello dear parents,
A few days ago I met my son at the bus stop, and as we were about to drive home, my younger daughter told him that she had watched an episode of their favourite show on youtube that day. She wasn't saying it out of spite, merely telling her brother about her day. Well... what a reaction he had! He immediately burst into angry tears, yelling at me that it wasn't fair, that he never got to do what we wanted to, that his sister did things that were more fun, and why did he have to go to school??
I could have argued back. I could have turned up the music and drove off ignoring him. But I didn't. Because in this moment I was THANKFUL and I WELCOMED his outburst. Welcomed it? YES!
Here's why. My son had been out of sorts for a few days. He wasn't listening well to me, he was picking fights with his sister, he was not cooperating in the way he usually does. I knew he was feeling disconnected from me and himself and that these feelings were driving his unreasonable behaviour. I also knew that if he allowed those feeling to come out in a cry or tantrum, then he would feel better. He would be able to think well again, and listen and cooperate more. I had tried talking to him, and spending some quality time with him, but he wasn't ready to let it go. Until the moment in the car, when the trigger of his sister's announcement opened the floodgates.
He sat in his seat and kicked and cried and tensed his body in rage and frustration. Tears streamed down his face. He was hot and sweaty. It was the biggest cry he had had in a long time. I held his hand when he let me, I looked into his eyes when he searched out mine. I let him know I understood. I let him know I was there. I felt so relieved that he was letting go of the tension clouding his mind. I was so thankful I knew about the power of listening and how healing it can be. His sister must have intuitively known he needed this as well, as she sat quietly and listened too.
After about five or ten minutes of intense crying and raging, my son settled into quiet sobs, and I gently reassured him I was still listening as I drove the two minutes home. When we arrived and got out of the car he melted into my arms in a huge hug. He stayed with me, then my husband for a bit before calmly going to play with his sister. He was transformed! There was a softness to him I hadn't seen in days. He was caring, and flexible and this continued into the evening routine.
This is a different way of looking at crying and tantrums. It's a way that's not always accepted in our culture. But I feel I shift in our society, as more and more people are moving towards connection and away from punishment. Not just in parenting. It always inspires me to hear of others questioning the underlying cause of peoples actions, and wanting to shift things at this level, rather than handing down the band-aid solution of punishment.
We all have the in-built power to heal from our past experiences, and we can raise the next generation with awareness of this, one "listened to" child at a time. Your job as a parent is SO important. Thank you for thinking about it.