Our kids can be unpredictable, emotional, and lack rational thinking. But then again…so can we. I have been thinking about bad moods, and how they just come on, often with little or no warning. One minute everything’s fine, and the next minute … boom!! We’re in a bad mood. I could blog about Mind set and changing this and thinking positively and telling ourselves that todays a good day.
But I’m not …. I’m going to write about our fundamental right to be in a bad mood and the fact that it’s absolutely ok to be in a bad mood. (It’s not ok to whack your wee sister over the head with a light sabre when you’re in said bad mood but that’s a story for another day) but never the less, it’s ok to be in a bad mood.
I was recently in a bad mood, and I didn’t see it coming, it just snuck up on me and boom!! I was in a bad mood. Here what happened: I had been having some vaccum troubles, my old vaccum was familiar and did exactly as it should, it picked up, the hose reached all the way up my stairs and it just worked as it should. Then it decided it’d had enough. And then began my vaccum woes. You’d think it would be easy, however it really wasn’t. After much research, shop visiting, trying…we finally ordered one. I was really looking forward to getting it home and trying it out, I was like a kid at Christmas. I tried it out and this is when it happened. I realised it was great hoover, very powerful and very sucky…. In fact it was too sucky. It was really hard to push and shove and it didn’t feel right on the stairs, not like my old one did. The hose didn’t stretch all the way up meaning half way up the stairs I had to carry it in one hand and use the hose head with the other, making it really difficult. I had to admit it… my new hoover sucked .. And not even in a good way! I was then instantly in a bad mood. I was grouchy, wound up, emotional, frustrated, annoyed and most of all very disappointed.
Now if you’re reading this thinking …. Jeezo…get a life!! Then that’s the very point. It might not make sense to you…. But my bad mood and my hoover disappointment made sense to me. Often our kid’s tantrums don’t make sense to us, but they make sense to them. And nine times out of 10 the underlying feeling at the bottom of it is … Disappointment. We don’t see disappointment, we see an adult acting like a spoiled kid because her hoover doesnt work as she wanted it to, and we see a child shouting and screaming and whacking the wardrobe doors with a nerf gun (that’s a story for another day too) or a toddler throwing themselves on the floor in the supermarket, or the teenager storming upstairs and banging the door nearly taking it off its hinges. But these are the behaviours that result from the emotion. In this case almost certainly disappointment. Disappointment that our long awaited hoover didn’t work as we want it to, disappointment that bedtime came a bit sooner than he was ready for, disappointment that the sweets we desperately wanted… even “needed” didn’t come, disappointment that we didn’t get the test result after a night of semi-studying! But disappointment it is, and it’s an awful feeling. And once we understand this, the behaviours that we see as a result make sense, we might not like them and we may well need to address them, but if we dig deep enough, they do make sense. So how do we help our children manage feelings of disappointment? We connect…before we do anything else, we CONNECT. We tailor our initial response by saying something along the lines of…. I understand you want the sweet and it doesn’t feel good when we don’t get what we want, or , I know you were having so much fun you didn’t want it to end, and it doesn’t feel good when our fun has to end, or I know you feel disappointed with your result, you put a lot into it, and it’s tough when we feel our effort isn’t rewarded…. By connecting emotionally first, we show empathy and understanding for our child’s feeling, and our child feels heard & understood. Yip… Disappointment sucks!!