I took the kids for a day out yesterday but at first it seemed like one tantrum after another, starting with my own.
Every Saturday, I have started to go for a run with my cousin. We do an arbitrary 5klm. It’s chill. It’s zen. It’s two adults.
I thought given that I’m on a pathway to getting closer with my kids that I would invite them to come along. I also knew there are benefits for them being active and burning off energy as well as spending time with me.
Last week, the eldest came along and I learnt then from my coach that in order for the kids to be willing participants, I’d better make sure they have fun. Their kind of fun, not my kind of fun. My kind of fun was running as fast as I can to get a good workout. What the kids want is to just be with me. There would need to be a level of compromise or a laying down of boundaries to help both parties get what they want and need.
So yesterday the youngest two came along. I didn’t think about it yesterday, but the dynamics were out. Remembering, it was one on one last week, and this time it’s three on one.
I did visually lose my patience getting ready to go but it’s all tied into the breakdown of an upset.
An upset is created from the following, it’s probably both but often times it could be one or the other.
Thwarted Intention - for a child, this is I had a goal in my mind and I didn’t get to achieve the goal
Undelivered Communication - for a child, this is I really wanted to say something but I didn’t even get to say what I really wanted to say or say something else that communicates the end result not my thinking and feeling that constructed the end result
So the goal I had in mind for myself was to leave the house by 6.30am. The other goal I had in mind for myself was all three kids to come along with me, enthusiastic and engaged.
By 8.30am I had all three kids ready to come along with me but I felt late and out of integrity with my cousin. I hate being late and out of integrity. Also, I felt the kids were easily distracted, not doing as they were asked, so in the next breath I chucked a tantrum.
As adults, we don’t tend to refer to ourselves as a tantrum but I’ll be honest and authentic. I was not happy Jan.
The middle child would not be get in the car. And what ensued is what I would call a dance among wolves.
Finally, I stopped the mindless chatter. It’s all the voices of your past.
I then asked the two who were in the car with me, “What can we do right now, we need a leader to step up and we need to all be leaders right now.
“A leader is someone with empathy,” I said. “Empathy means I have understanding for the way you feel. But we also need to find out how we are all feeling.
“Who wants to go first to talk about how they’re feeling?
We each took turns to share how we are feeling. I said, “this is a safe space and whomever is talking it’s one voice and two listeners. Then we can move on and think of new ideas how we can approach this together.”
That moment was pivotal for starting our day.
I said, “I’m feeling frustrated because I had an expectation we would leave by 6.30am. It’s now 8.30am and I feel upset for my cousin who has been waiting now for two hours for us. I feel frustrated because I made it mean that when my kids don’t listen to me, they don’t love me. That’s a story by the way, it’s not true and it’s not working for me. Also, I was looking forward to spending quality time with you.”
How I can do things differently from now on is if I say I’m leaving at 6.30am I’m just going to leave no matter who is ready or not and who is ready can come with me and who is not ready does not need to come with me. I can come home and we can do something together after my run for those who were not ready.
Then we went back to pick up the middle son and something happened between the eldest and the middle son. They all got in the car so we had the how are you feeling conversation.
Through the day each person went through a number of spaces. It felt like I was dealing with tantrums all day long but in fact they were learning opportunities.
At the end of the day, I asked the kids to rate their behaviour against a rating they use at school. In other words, if they behaved like that at school what would the consequences be at school? I then developed a not negotiable list but realised again I need their buy in here so they’re going to need to contribute their own not negotiable list and we need to see if both parties are on the same page or not.
In doing this work and asking the eldest how can we prevent what happened rather than try to fix things after it happens?
We googled EFT emotional freedom techniques. I had remembered that a member of our learning community had shared about this.
We decided to use a karate chop right hand on left hand to tap and say a version of the following phrase:
Eldest: Even though I have this anger, I deeply and completely accept myself.
The phrase always has to refer to yourself it cannot refer to someone else.
Middle: Even though I have this upset, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Me: Even though I have this frustration, I deeply and completely accept myself.
We didn’t ask the youngest but I will today to see what will work for her. I’m going to guess the following as it has come up a lot for her in her communication of late.
Youngest: Even though I have this annoyance, I deeply and completely accept myself.
So if anything today has been a triumph over the past because we have the building blocks for strategies we can each implement for ourselves and eachother.
I had to realise I don’t need to do it on my own. I do have a team. My family is my team. I can be a leader but I don’t always have to the leader. Anyone can show up, at anytime. My goal is to acknowledge it when it does show up.
Hi my name is Angela. I have loved writing since I was able to hold a pencil in my hand. I soon learnt I had a gift of connecting with my ancestors through writing before my 30th birthday.