This article was originally posted on February 25, 2015.
As a mom of three kids, I find myself improvising moment by moment sometimes. I’ve read books and articles and listened to podcasts and presentations that provide ideas on how to discipline, instill responsibility, and teach virtues to my kids, and I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how to nurture them, but there are still circumstances that take me off guard and leave me wondering how I should respond. Yesterday I faced one of those moments.
My oldest child is in 2nd grade. He is learning how to be aware of the time and get himself ready for school and to the bus stop (which is at the end of our driveway) each morning without my help. When he forgets to watch the time and misses the bus, he has a reasonable consequence that we’ve agreed upon ahead of time.
Yesterday he got sidetracked and ended up spending much of his time playing instead of getting ready for school. He missed the bus. Usually when this happens, it’s not a big deal; he knows he has his consequence and life goes on. But yesterday when he realized he had missed the bus, he slumped to the floor and started to wail.
I left him to cry for a moment, hoping he’d feel better on his own, but five minutes later he was still going strong, and I saw that school would start soon. I encouraged him to get up and try to calm down. “Take a deep breath,” I said. Instead he cried louder. I took his hand and pulled a little to try to help him stand up. He made sure he was still completely limp and his body only flopped a little at my attempt to help him stand.
I stood there watching my wet-noodle wailer, not sure what to do next. For a second, I thought back to all the tips and tricks from my favorite parenting resources. What “trick” would work for a crying, limp child who was about to be late to school? I was stumped. I really didn’t know what to do. A thought ran through my mind, “There’s nothing left to do but love him.”
I sat down on the ground and pulled my floppy little boy into my lap. I hugged him and ran my fingers softly on his face, periodically wiping away the tears. After a few minutes, he was quiet and composed, and we both felt a lot better! He made it to school, and I continued my day too. Life went on.
Our bumpy morning was a simple reminder to me that when my kids are having a tough moment, and I find myself guessing what I should do next, it never hurts to take a step back, regroup, reach into my heart, and dish out some extra unconditional love.
QUESTION: What strategies and mantras help you to remain calm and loving when your children have a melt-down or misbehave?
CHALLENGE: In the midst of a difficult moment with your children this week, remind yourself that sometimes “there’s nothing left to do but love.”
Edited by Rachel Nielson. Feature image from Shutterstock, with graphics by Julie Finlayson.
Post image by Tiffany Hancock.