Behind-the-Scenes of Playful, Peaceful Parenting
Seeing REAL LIFE situations can often be more helpful than just listening to theory. I share this “behind-the-scenes” scenario from my home with my children’s permission and I ask that you respond to this video gently with them in mind.
My three children were a bit exhausted from the day and my focus was to feed them and prepare them for bed that evening.
The moment my son said that the food that I had prepared was DISGUSTING, that was when I started to feel triggered. I needed to take a moment to center myself to stay calm.
When my son called me dumb, he was looking to me to set a limit or hold a space for him to let out his big emotions. When he first said the food was disgusting, I stayed calm and he did not experience that contrast he would need to erupt in a tantrum. So, he upped the ante by calling me dumb. But in this case, I didn’t want to set the limit because I knew I did not have the emotional resources to handle a full-blown tantrum right then and there. I decided instead to take the playful parenting route and to center myself.
First, I drew back to bring myself into a calm space.
When he didn’t get a rise out of me, he still needed that tension and he instead started teasing his brother. This could have easily become a “us-against-him” situation and I felt I needed to very quickly bring him around so he knew we were all on the same team.
Ultimately, the reason our children rile up against us, call us names, reject the food that we make, etc… is because they feel disconnected and their love cup isn’t full.
One sentence that can help you calm your child down from a rough mood is, “Have you run out of hugs?” With a genuinely empathic tone of voice, we open ourselves up to join WITH them in their struggle. It’s a gentle way of saying “Can I connect with you?”
It can be really tempting to go into realms of deeper disconnection by sending them in a time-out, but the reason why they are behaving this way in the first place is because they feel scared or disconnected. To quickly re-establish a warm, loving connection can seem counter-intuitive. But this is exactly where we need to go to establish connection by rising to our best, adult selves.
To laugh together helped us all release the tension and be ready for a peaceful bedtime.
The fact that my son so quickly apologized for calling me dumb was enough for me to realize he knew that wasn’t a kind way to speak, and we didn’t have to revisit this again.
Every scenario throughout each day is unique and really there is never ONE right way to handle big emotions or challenging behavior. But I do feel we can practice centering ourselves and becoming aware of when and why we feel triggered, attuning ourselves to our intuition and to our children’s needs.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Have you found playfulness an effective way to practice boundaries and maintain connection?