The other night was marked by my 6-year-old daughter’s mega meltdown.
I racked my brain for any way to help her escape her bad mood. She suddenly yelled, “I’m mad at everyone and no one in this family likes me!”
Huh? We constantly tell our kids how much we love them so this curve ball threw me for a loop. Until I remembered she’s a child, upset, and just needs to let it out. I thought about my daughter adjusting to full-day school in first grade, and the many expectations placed on her there and at home.
As I listened to her wail, watched tears flood her hazel eyes, and anger pour from her lips, I drew her close and hugged her tight. I didn’t give another exhausting lesson on good attitudes, but just let her be. I let her release. Silence and comfort calmed her and she melted in my arms.
There isn’t always an easy answer. Sometimes we just have a bad day. It is what it is.
I try to remind myself that it’s OK to be in that and not get cheered up. As Psalm 30:5 says, “Joy comes in the morning.” Another day will be here, and our spirits will be lifted.
When my children were toddlers, meltdowns and tantrums were more frequent, and when I didn’t give into their behavior, it helped limit it. Now that my triplets are older the meltdowns aren’t as frequent, but they sure happen sometimes.
While there is a time for discipline, if I sense brokenness, then most likely, my kids just need to feel sad, mad, disappointed, or whatever their mood is in the moment. They don’t need words or a solution. They just need ME.
If I don’t allow my children to be honest with their feelings, they will bottle them up and express them in another way.
I want to be the one my kids reveal their emotions to, good and bad. If I want to be that person, I need to welcome all their emotions so they know I am a safe place where they can be open and vulnerable. It can be hard to zip my mouth closed and just listen, but I am working on it.
This quote by Dr. John Townsend, echoed this idea for me: “Kids who are emotionally connected in healthy ways are more secure.”
The day after the meltdown, my daughter worked tirelessly on creating a card for me.
A hole tore through the middle of her picture and she almost crumpled it up because of the imperfection. But I intercepted that treasure and put it in my keepsake box.
When she saw me put her “imperfect” drawing in my keepsake box, she got a glimpse of how I love all of her. The holes in drawings and crooked lines make her unique. They make her beautiful. They make her like no one else. They make her my daughter. I want her to know that in the “imperfections” I am walking with her—that we are in this together.
Even though my daughter had yelled hurtful words the night before, she wrote these priceless ones in her card: “I, know, you love me. Oh, I just love you so much!” Instead of anger pouring out, love poured out.
This was a sweet reminder that many times our children don’t mean their harsh words said in a meltdown—they just need to express their hurt feelings.
In the meltdowns, all our children might need is us—to be with us. To release; to be free; to be themselves. To know that it’s OK because “joy comes in the morning.”
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