This lesson keeps coming up…I guess I am still not learning it!!
Anger is an unmet expectation
Puma woke up first yesterday and went to hang out on the couch. When Otter woke up, we went to the couch to hang out with Puma while I nursed her. A ten-minute meltdown ensued as Puma tried to kick us off the couch. Hitting me, yelling, moving the couch – it was not pretty, nor is that typical Puma behavior. She is usually gentle, loving and eager to hang out with me, with or without Otter in tow.
I repeatedly asked her to stop hurting me, and if she wasn’t ready to stop hurting me, to take herself to her room until she was in a place where she could stop hitting. I asked her if she could tell me what was wrong, or when that didn’t work, if she could tell me what she wanted aside from having us move.
“I can hear you want us to move – what is it you need?”
I didn’t move because I am stubborn, I guess, and Otter wasn’t in any harm from the physical blows. She kept right on nursing until she was done, and then we moved.
Can you tell me why you were upset – was there something you needed this morning?
I broached the subject again in the late morning, at lunchtime, and finally when we were alone in the schoolroom, she told me, “I just wanted your attention without Otter.”
I am not sure how to get to that unmet need sooner than I did because she didn’t want to talk about it, even when I used the key word, “need”. It may just be her, because it is her M.O. to process things internally before she is ready to talk about them.
I guess in recognition of that, I could have said something like, “I am moving because I cannot let you hurt me, and you aren’t moving to your room. I am sorry you cannot use your words right now…I love you and I can wait until we can talk about what happened.”
Are there supposed to be consequences? I guess I have to dig a little deeper to find the answers to that…which is why I love that there are so many gentle parenting resources now….HERE is a perspective on tantrums from L.R. Knost.
I will close with this image from L.R. Knost – Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources…because maybe it’s supposed to be okay to let them lose control so that they can learn how to regain control of their emotions in the long run. It’s just a matter of re-programming my “tape” and learning along with our children.