I had a birthday recently and at breakfast that morning, my son said, “Mom, I really hope you like the puzzle I got you.”
His eyes immediately grew wider, he realized he had just ruined the surprise of what he bought me. Then, his eyes filled with tears, embarrassed that he had made such a mistake.
I assured him that it was okay, that I still didn’t know what kind of puzzle he bought me. I assured him that a puzzle was an amazing gift and showed me how he knows me so well. I gave him a hug and dried his tears.
A gentle parenting response hasn’t always come easy for me. When my kids were younger, I would get really upset over a spill or an unexpected mess or mess up. The perfectionist in me craved control and minimal disruption to the plans I had for the day. Thankfully, God prompted me to go to counseling and I learned to unpack my perfectionism and those instinctive reactions.
What really helped me was to identify the root cause of my frustration. Anger is a secondary emotion and is an indicator of something deeper going on.
In those moments when I felt like I was going to lose my cool, my counselor encouraged me to press pause and assess the core emotion I felt. It was extremely helpful to take a step back and see what my triggers were so that I work on how to better respond to them.
Here are a few things to think about:
- How do we want to be treated when we make a mistake? Let’s go out and treat our kids and others in that same way!
- What core emotions do you feel when something, like a kid’s mess or mistake, triggers you?
- How can you learn to respond gently instead of reacting?
Analyzing our responses to the messes of raising children is an essential tool that helps us not only parent our children in a kind and loving way, but also allows us to heal and grow.