How do we deal with our kid’s changing moods, states of mind and negative behavior?
That is the million dollar question for most parents! One of the things I used to struggle a lot with was not getting pulled into a bad mood from the behavior of my children, or even my husband for that matter. It’s hard…I am truckin’ along, having a fab day, feeling good and BAM! In walks someone ready to vent! It hits me like a bucket of cold water in the face and can, if I am not conscious and grounded, take me away from feeling good.
Ok, that is the way it is living with others right? Today was one of those days. Luckily I was able to stay centered and I saw this as a moment to talk about emotional responsibility with my oldest. So, we talk a lot about being in charge of our emotions in our house. I don’t mean expecting everyone to walk around with a smile on their face or suppressing bad feelings, I mean recognizing that some emotions are really unproductive, disruptive and even untrue and that we can let these go and step into better feeling places. One of my big goals as a mother is to teach my children emotional autonomy – that art of being the navigator of their thoughts and emotions. Sophie, my daughter, came home ready to rage today… Not cool. Especially since little Christopher and I were having such a lovely afternoon. My first instinct is anger. But, then I remember to use anger as a trigger to parent from love and that this is in no way about me, and compassion and empathy rush in. I understand fully that they have had a long day at school and are exhausted. She needs food and a cuddle from mamma. I stayed centered and calm, but, the car ride home was intense.
We got home and had our sandwich, and a hug…immediately feeling better – funny how food does that, and it was then that I told her about The Family Soup. Note that I must give credit to my twin sister Sarah for this brilliant metaphor!
I explained the Family Soup metaphor like this: “together, the 4 of us make a “family soup” every day. Each one of us is responsible for putting only the best ingredients in that soup so that it will taste as good as it can, so that our life as a family can feel as wonderful as possible! If we put rotten stuff in there (like mean actions and thoughts) – we get yucky soup that no one wants to eat – a family life that doesn’t feel good”.
I went on further and explained that BIG emotions are fine and a part of life, and yet how wonderful and empowering it is to feel them, let them go and then start over! Scrap the old soup and focus your love and attention on making the new one taste its best. Remind them that their thoughts have power and that they are important contributors to the dynamic of whole of the family. They matter.
This is such a great and simple way to explain to a child about emotional responsibility. It is my job to stay centered and calm in chaos and to allow kids to have whatever emotion they need to, but empowering kids to understand that they actually have control over their thoughts, their emotions and their actions is a step towards spiritual and emotional health for your kids and your entire family!
Here is an idea! What if you, tonight, sat down with your family and talked about what kind of family soup you would like to make. What is your collective vision for your family – how do you want to feel, what are the family guidelines and what does each person want to or is expected to put into the pot? Could lead to some fun conversations! Bon Appetit
Beyond lovely feedback from a reader!!! He words touched me although I can take no credit for the shift in the energy of her family. That was all her!!!!
I just wanted to give you some feedback and tell you that as a result of following your advice, and feeling supported by you, my family and I are so happy. We had a really traumatic, turbulent year last year. I was diagnosed with an illness and my marriage was faltering. Thankfully I had found peaceful, gentle parenting and I was beginning to implement it before I got ill. It truly has been what has saved me and pulled me through the darkness back into the light.
When I see your posts I am filled with inspiration, commitment and hope again.
My family is calm, fun loving, considerate and warm. My husband and I have reconnected and built so many bridges.
The idea about family soup, was a particular favorite and my eldest daughter adores this analogy (she is a foodie!).
This morning, I climbed into her bed.
She hugged me and whispered
“I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a mummy like you. You’re amazing.”
It filled my heart with joy to hear her say this and know she felt it.
It’s down to your wisdom and your insight that this precious connection was made.
I am eternally grateful to you.
May your life continue to be as beautiful as you have helped mine to become.
With love and thanks!