The 'stroppy age 6's, 7's and 8's ' is a relatively well known phenomena in parenting chat nowadays.
But I learned something quite critical from my 7year old son's tantrum today.
I'm sure many savvier parents than I, have this absolutely sussed out already, so sorry if I'm a latecomer onto this nugget of knowledge that actually enabled me to transition him from lying down in our street screaming:
'YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME - YOU CAN'T MAKE ME GO TO SCHOOL'
To getting him school this morning - only 27 minutes late!
What an achievement...
So here it is, my learning (that required a lot of patience from a generally impatient person and fortunately coincided with a day where I didn't have to rush to a meeting, plus I'd had a good night's sleep so was feeling more rested and tolerant than usual).
Behind that huge ball of anger my son was grappling with and was basically directing at me - was a huge ball of sadness and worry about school.
I waited until he wanted to talk to me again...
I waited until he sidled over and then launched himself into my arms for a cuddle...
I waited for the words to come and when they did, it was somewhat heartbreaking...
He is finding learning really difficult at school at the moment and therefore thinks he is stupid.
We spoke it through and I shared how I find learning some things really hard too - like owning and running a business when I've never done that before (um, that is Parents Guide!) I asked him if that made me stupid. He said no (fortunately). He said I was brave. I told him I thought he was too.
Here is my confession. I waited with him, just being with him because I genuinely didn't know how best to help him, when nothing I was trying was working in the face of his fury. It turns out I didn't have to know. I didn't have to have the right answers. I just needed to be there for him, so he could eventually work through and articulate the sadness behind the anger.
My nugget of learning I took from today is to listen for the sadness and discomfort that can fuel the anger. The next time I am faced with anger from anyone, I will remind myself of that and hope it helps me find the patience and compassion to not take their anger personally.
Parenting... It's the most challenging thing I have ever done and I regularly bodge it up. I regularly worry about my parenting inadequacies. But, I did also learn today that I don't have to have all the answers. Just being quietly present, hanging onto my patience and then being able to relate to what he was going through, was enough.
My learning's today from my lovely and emotionally turbulent son, has actually left me feeling pretty liberated... Yay for imperfect parenting and not having to have all the answers!
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