My daughter is four and very angry at me.
She doesn’t know that watching too much television is not good for her, in so many ways. She doesn’t know how much better it is physically, mentally, and emotionally, for her to play outside instead. She just knows that she wants to watch Dora, and that her mommy won’t let her.
My daughter and I usually communicate well with each other. I usually don’t yell, and I never hit or spank her. Time outs and banishment to bedrooms don’t work in this house. Instead, we normally use feeling words and try to talk to each other about how we feel and come up with a compromise. However, once in a while, like today, we come up short in communication.
My daughter doesn’t want to talk. She wants to yell and cry and turn her back to me. She doesn’t want to be hugged or touched or cuddled. She just wants to be angry. This leaves me with two choices: I can threaten, yell, or punish her in some other way until she starts to “behave,” or I can use this as an opportunity to guide her.
I know that when I am angry, I get overwhelmed. It’s hard for me to stay calm, it’s hard for me to think about anything but whatever I am angry about. From my experience with anger, I know that yelling or punishing her at this time isn’t going to help; it wouldn’t work with me, so why would it work for her? It would make things worse. And so, I choose the other option.
She’s laying on the couch, crying, her back to me. I sit next to her. I don’t touch her, or hug her, or try to talk to her…I just sit quietly, letting her anger run its course. I know she can feel my presence beside her, keeping her company while she tries to sort through the powerful and overwhelming emotions that have taken over her body.
Time passes, and her crying starts to slow. Soon, she sits up and starts wiping the tears from her face. She looks at me and then climbs on my lap. I wrap my arms around her and kiss her forehead.
“Feel better?” I ask. She nods. “Want to go outside now?” She nods again, grinning, and jumps off my lap to find her shoes.
No, my daughter doesn’t know about the studies that show the harmful effects television can have on her. She doesn’t know that she is building memories of nature and animals and plants that she will look back on fondly. But, she does know that I am always there for her, no matter what. That my presence will always be in her life, ready to guide her whenever she needs it. That is one of my gifts to her.
Guest post by Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother