Her voice is shrill and loud. Her hands clenched. She repeats the words over and over, each time more vehemently. It is not me or my actions that have triggered her anger and frustration but I am the target of the feelings that overwhelm her. I feel my own frustration levels rise as once again I am the one on the receiving end of this anger that I did not cause, that I cannot control. Why me?
But, of course, I know the answer – because I am the mama. I am the safe place to fall.
It is not always easy to be the refuge. And often I fail. My own shoulders tensing, I hear the cross words spilling out before I even realise they have formed. And this angry response – it ultimately achieves nothing. My words don’t make her stop. They certainly don’t make me feel any better. They don’t solve the problem that sparked the outburst. They don’t help her to learn to manage these overwhelming feelings and emotions without harm. My anger just sparks more anger, more frustration, more hurt.
So what does my child need instead?
She needs me to slow down.
In this moment my child needs connection much more than correction.
As I tuck her into bed that night, I check that we are okay. Now that we are calm we talk about our responses and how we each can do better. I hold her and tell her how much I love her.
And as I close the bedroom door and step away, I am thankful for the quiet, the relief and the clean slate of tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will do better.
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