This morning was not my proudest parenting moment. I confess that I took the reactive, angry route instead of being attentive to Goose’s struggle – I focused on my own emotional struggle and vented my frustration in a rather unbecoming way – I yelled. Yes, this does happen when parenting – even when attempting to follow a more respectful parenting method. Yes, I have bad days, as we all do, and though I am loath to post about them – I feel that I need to now, for my own accountability if nothing else.
Some time ago I found the Orange Rhino Challenge – Love more, Yell Less, and even though I embraced the theory of it, I have struggled with actually committing myself to the challenge. I don’t yell a lot, but I do find I have been missing plenty of opportunities to connect and assist my son in learning to deal with his own strong emotions. Of course, it doesn’t help that he comes from two very emotional, highly reactive parents who are prone to sudden outbursts of emotion, before calmly dealing with any situation.
I have read through numerous parenting blogs, sites and forums looking for, what I consider, better parenting methods of raising a child without resorting to threats, manipulation, bribes, rewards or punishment. And though I am working forward in my parenting goals, on days like today I feel I have just taken 20 steps backwards. One of the key suggestions in almost all of these sites is to take a moment to calm down – preferably alone, once you make sure your child is safe – before returning to your child to better deal with the situation.
My biggest problem at the moment is trying to gain a little breathing space when things get heated, just to calm down and assess and approach the situation with new eyes. Goose just will NOT allow me to have that space I need. Even though I voice it to him, “I am feeling very angry/upset right now and need a few minutes alone to calm down. Then I will come back.” – Only seems to make Goose EXTREMELY anxious and needy, grabbing at me, demanding a hug and generally freaking out. I don’t know how calm myself down in a situation like this and nothing I have read seems to have any suggestions.
In order to try and get that breathing space I need, so I can better support the strong emotional struggles Goose is going through at this time, I have decided to create a new Parenting Challenge I call – ‘JUST HUG!’
JUST HUG! – means that when strong emotions, such as anger, start to take over a situation and you cannot get the breathing space alone to calm yourself down – you hug each other. The hug really means JUST hug – no lecture, explanations, demands, talking, excuses, time limit etc.… it really means to commit yourself to just hug and allow yourself and your child to calm down. Eventually, when the hug is calm and everyone is feeling less emotional, you can then talk – or better yet, ask your child questions about what just happened, what they were feeling and why they might be feeling that way. Then together you can find opportunities and solutions to the situation.
The hug doesn’t condone any ‘bad’ actions or words, but it does express to the child that you love them through and even in spite of their strong emotions/actions/words. It expresses, without words that you are there to help support them and guide them through difficult feelings, while allowing you the time to breathe and calm down. Then you can access and acknowledge what happened with calm eyes and a calm heart.
Today is day 1 of my new personal challenge. I will attempt to keep a weekly update of our successes and challenges along the road and invite anyone to join in. I have absolutely no idea how this will play out or what Goose’s reaction will be to this new experiment, but I have to try something better, I have to try for my own sanity. I have even spelled out the words – Just hug – in magnetic letters on my fridge as a reminder.
Please comment below if you have any suggestions or would like to join in on the JUST HUG! Challenge.