A lovely mother/daughters date quickly turned sour after arriving at our table & Annabelle immediately erupted in tears.
She had picked out her donut. She was excited about her donut. She knew everyone gets their own, and never in a million years have we gotten more than that. Yet here she was, bawling, pushing away the tray & screaming to the rest of the restaurant that she needed two.
Now, we know all behavior is a form of communication. In the moment, I could interpret her behavior one way---
---"There are two things I know about Annabelle- she's wildly in love with anything sweet, and she feels emotions at level 17 out of 10. She is still 4, developmentally impulsive & out of control of her actions, especially when upset (like even many adults). It is my responsibility to help her gain the skills to understand her own thoughts & feelings and know what to do next to cope when things are hard. I will not let the eyes of strangers allow me to ruin this teachable moment out of my own embarrassment."
So... here's what I did. I acknowledged & empathized with her feelings (even when irrational), and LEANED IN.
She said "YEAH!" and started to sniffle and come down a bit. 🥺
And as she started dreaming about her perfect donut, she slowly calmed all the way down while she answered. Then I walked her through the 4 steps I've taught her to "get calm"-
1. Blow your nose. 👃
2. Get a drink. 🥤
3. Get a long hug. 💓
4. Take a deep breath. 🗯
Then, she began happily eating her donut. Her ONE donut. 🍩
Leaning in teaches emotional literacy & coping skills, building a STRONG connection between parent & child. ❤️ However, It requires a lot of patience & energy from us as parents, so we better have our wits about us, taking care of ourselves so we can be ready for these opportunities when our kids need us most.
Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!