Today I comforted my son—in the midst of a serious tantrum, I held him close.
People around me, or people in general for that matter, often worry if you provide comfort when children are upset or when they are lashing out, you’re accepting their behavior. I believe the contrary. I believe I’m telling them they are safe. I’m telling them to express themselves.
I’m telling them it’s OK to have these feelings and we can work through them together.
So, I held my son today.
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He pushed away, I held him tighter, he refused to give in, and I only became more adamant—telling him it was OK, showing him I was there for him. Until I felt him crumble in my arms, too tired to fight back anymore. I felt his heart pour out in the form of tears. I felt him unclench his fists. I felt him surrender.
I held him so close.
I held my son.
I cradled my not-so-little boy as he let go of all the rage he had, as he took a deep breath.
I showed him that having these emotions is normal. Feeling upset, feeling frustrated, feeling agitated, feeling confused about why someone else wouldn’t share, or why someone didn’t want to share—it’s all normal.
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Why is it when a child is cold or hungry, we know we must immediately attend to them, yet when they need comforting, we try to label it as anything else? As acting out, as craving attention, as being disrespectful.
Here are these little children, craving emotional connection, literally asking to be nurtured through their actions, but we are quick to label it as anything but that.
Is it mainly because of those around us? Is it because the judgment weighs heavily on mothers who don’t discipline?
Why don’t we try taking a different approach? Why not hold your child close to your heart when he needs it most? Why not try to understand how deeply they’re feeling disturbed and hurt and misunderstood? Why not understand them through love, through emotions, through compassion, through patience, through grace?
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Why do we always feel the need to turn to discipline, or should I ask why is it always suggested and encouraged? Why is it such a big part of motherhood, that if you don’t comply and conform with those who discipline, you’re deemed inadequate?
Let us hold our children.
Let us raise them with all the love and empathy we can possibly give, so they can radiate that kindness outward as they grow.
I held my son today. I held him as tight and as close as humanly possible until I felt his anger wither away, until he felt safe and loved, until he was ready to communicate.
I held my son and I will continue to do so. I will continue to show him it’s OK to feel.