Time Out….For Parents

Posted by Samantha on May 10, 2012 in Anger, Communication, Connection, Empathy, Relationships, Self-care |

Here’s a story from a Mum I was working with this week.

This Mum’s attention was attracted by the sound of her 10 month old daughter crying.  She followed the sound and discovered her two daughters in the bathroom.  The baby’s head and shoulders were covered in talcum powder.  Her four year old daughter was holding the talc.

Mum was immediately furious.  She was so furious in fact that she found herself wanting to smack her older daughter.  However, we’d been talking about using Time Out….To Calm Down – for parents rather than children – a few days previously.  So, she reminded herself of the basics and decided to give it a try, rather than giving vent to her fury.

She picked the baby up off the floor and set about cleaning the talc off her.  Once that was done, she took a little more time to calm herself down further.  When she was feeling reasonably calm again she went to talk to her older girl.

She was able to tell the little girl how dangerous what she had done was, how it could have hurt the baby and how it had frightened her.  Her little girl listened and then burst into tears.  Her heart was in her tummy she said.

Now Mum was really connected with her daughter and was feeling more loving towards her.  But still she was confused about why she had done what she did.  And so she asked her crying 4 year old: “Why did you put talc all over the baby, sweetheart?”

“Because I wanted to make her soft”, came the teary reply.

***

How different this might have been if Mum had gone in all guns blazing.  Assuming the worst of her daughter she might have punished and raged, damaging their relationship, creating resentment and pain.

Instead she took time to connect with herself and calm down.  Then she connected with her daughter.

What she learned from that was priceless.  Her older daughter had not been trying to hurt the baby.

My experience is that young children rarely have the negative or manipulative intentions we attribute to them.  They are still “soft”.  We can deal with them softly.

 

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