Over it, Kid!
“This was the worst day of my life!” my son
“First mom shrunk my favorite hat, then you guys
lost my favorite book, then I did my alphabet for you and you didn’t
My seven-year-old son wrapped his arms around his
head and tried his best to “shut out the world,” including me. My
first thought was to convince him things weren’t so bad, and that
tomorrow would be a better day. But by doing that, I’d also convince
him that I didn’t understand his feelings, and what he was going
“Sounds like a pretty rotten day,” I replied.
That was all he needed.
For the next fifteen minutes, he told me about
all of the awful things that he’d gone through, and who had committed
the “crimes.” We ended the night in laughter, talking about the
possibility of running naked through a winter storm to the corner
store and back. It was decided neither of us would try, but we could
do it, “if we really wanted to.”
Later that night, I thought about my son’s anger
and his rapid recovery. I thought about how much more our kids share
with us these days, and how little I shared with my parents. And I
thought of what a blessing it is to have a son who’s able to share his
life with me.
Back in the days of seeing and not hearing
children, parents could often skip the part of parenting that involved
listening closely and empathizing with their children. They could tell
their kids to “shape up” or “stop whining” when they were struggling,
and they could control them with fear. Children would respond by
stuffing feelings, and holding onto their anger for long periods of
After my son had shared his feelings with me, I
shared with him how glad I was that he could tell me what was
bothering him. I told him that “anger energy” needs to be released
from your body, or it starts to grow. And I shared that I was glad he
didn’t have to stay angry as long as I did when I was a child, because
I didn’t learn the “secret” of talking about my problems with someone
If we are to listen well, we must open ourselves
to the good, the bad and the ugly in our children. At times, it is
excruciatingly difficult to listen, when we want them to “get over
it.” But all they need is one comment to show them we understand, and
their mood shifts before us. All we need is to understand that kids
are not adults, and that they often feel their emotions more strongly
than we do.
And, they will remember how you responded to
their emotions for the rest of their life.
So the next time your child is struggling,
remember the blessings within the struggle. Remember the opportunity
to join your child with kindness and compassion.
And remember that if you really want your child
to “get over it,” you’ll have to get over it first.
MA, CPCC, coaches parents by phone to balance their life and improve
their family relationships. He is an Instructor for the Academy for
Coaching Parents (www.acpi.biz),
and the author of the “Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers”
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