You need them to calm their big feelings. They need that too - but they can’t do it without you.
You need to be heard. They need that too - but they can’t do find the words without you.
You need them to express themselves without hurting anyone. They want that too - but they don’t know how just yet.
Like all important things, the capacity to self-regulate takes time and lots of experience. None of us were born able to be calm and clear when something doesn’t go our way or when we have an unmet need. It will take many (many!) years. The experience will come from us - co-regulation, the loving conversations, the boundaries held with warmth.
We won’t get this right all the time, and we don’t need to. What matters is getting it right enough.
How? Breathe, be with, add warmth to the boundary. Without using too many words (you don’t want to add to the overwhelm), it might sound like parts of the following while their big feelings are ‘big-ing’.
‘I know you’re annoyed (validation) No - I won’t listen when you speak like that (boundary). I’m right here. You’re not in trouble (warmth, safety). I want to hear what you need, but I won’t while you’re yelling at me/ your brother (boundary) I’m right here. It’s okay to be angry. You’re not in trouble (warmth, safety).
This is not about giving a free pass on big behaviour. It’s about recognising that in that moment, the priority is managing their felt safety - helping them calm their body and feel connected to us. They don’t have the skills to do this on their own.
Then, when they are calm, have the chat about what happened, what can be done differently next time, how they can put things right, and whether they need your help with that.
For the days the storm feels too big and swallows you too (it will happen) repair as soon as you can.
There is also growth for them in this. You’re modelling humility, imperfection, how to take responsibility for your own ‘stuff’ and the impact of that.
This might sound like, ‘I’m really sorry I yelled. I wish I didn’t do that. I know that must have felt bad for you when you were already feeling awful. I’m going to work on that. Let’s work on that for ourselves, together.‘♥️
Thanks so much @maggiedentauthor♥️… “Karen Young - Hey Sigmund has such a wonderful way with words especially around anxiety. This is her latest beautiful picture book that explains anxiety through the lens of the Polyvagal theory using the metaphor of a house. This shows how sometimes anxiety can be hard to notice. I think this book can help kids and teens better understand stress and anxiety. I loved it! This would be great for homes, schools and in libraries. Congratulations Karen.💛”
Of course we love them, no matter what - but they need to feel us loving them, no matter what. Especially when they are acting in unlovable ways, or saying unlovable things. Especially then.
This is not ‘rewarding bad behaviour’. To think this assumes that they want to behave badly. They don’t. What they want is to feel calm and safe again, but in that moment they don’t have the skills to do that themselves, so they need us to help them.
It’s leading with love. It’s showing up, even when it’s hard. The more connected they feel to us, the more capacity we will have to lead them - back to calm, into better choices, towards claiming their space in the world kindly, respectfully, and with strength.
This is not about dropping the boundary, but about holding it lovingly, ‘I can see you’re doing it tough right now. I’m right here. No, I won’t let you [name the boundary]. I’m right here. You’re not in trouble. We’ll get through this together.’
If you’re not sure what they need, ask them (when they are calm), ‘When you get upset/ angry/ anxious, what could I do that would help you feel loved and cared for in that moment? And this doesn’t mean saying ‘yes’ to a ‘no’ situation. What can I do to make the no easier to handle? What do I do that makes it harder?’♥️
Sometimes it feels as though how we feel directs what we do, but it also works the other way: What we do will direct how we feel.
When we avoid, we feel more anxious, and a bigger need to avoid. But when we do brave - and it only needs to be a teeny brave step - we feel brave. The braver we do, the braver we feel, and the braver we do… This is how we build brave - with tiny, tiny uncertain steps.
So, tell me how you feel. All feelings are okay to be there. Now tell me what you like to do if your brave felt a little bigger. What tiny step can we take towards that. Because that brave is always in you. Always. And when you take the first step, your brave will rise bigger to meet you.♥️ . . #anxietyinkids #consciousparenting #parentingtips #gentleparent #parentinglife #mindfulparenting #childanxiety #heywarrior