We are walking up the stairs to school. It’s been a difficult morning. I am feeling drained by the need to repeat myself over and over. The feeling that I’m doing everything for everyone. That no one else in the family is doing their share and once again I am over functioning for all of us. I am drained the fact that we are late. Again.
As we walk up the stairs, I say to my daughter, “Hey, this morning really didn’t work for me. I don’t like it when I’m yelling at you. And I don’t like it when you are yelling at me.”
Mumbled agreement from my daughter. I continue, “I need something different to happen tomorrow.”
It would be nice if we had time to talk about what this would look like, but now we are standing in front of her classroom. It’s time to say good-bye and get on with the rest of the day.
I bend down for a hug goodbye, I look at my daughter and take a deep breath,“I’m sorry this morning was so hard.”
“Me too,” says my almost 6 year old as she gives me the full routine: hug, kiss, high five, knucks. “I love you Mom.”
And just like that we are both able to repair our relationship and go on with our day without the burden of a bad morning weighing us down. It seems a bit magical. Maybe it is. But in just those few moments we were both able to put the frustration of the morning behind us and repair our relationship.
Repair. People get mad. We all have bad days.
Say things we don’t mean. It’s helpful to have a language to talk about repair. Rather than apologize – often a part of repairing – the idea here is to reconnect after a break in connection. What do you do after you yell at your kids? Do they know what to expect?
There will always be breaks in connection with your children.
The important question to ask is what are you norms, your rituals, your routines when it comes to reconnecting?
In our house a favorite question to reconnect is “What do you need?”
After school that same day we sit down for a snack. “So,” I begin, “What do you think we need to do differently tomorrow morning?”
My daughter offers ideas, “You could not yell at me. You could ask me to help.”
I try to listen without judgment. Just listen.
I ask a few questions. “I know it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. What do you need to get out of bed without starting your day in a cranky mood? How can I remind you to get yourself dressed without yelling?” I am truly curious to hear what she comes up with. Most of the time it’s way better than anything I might propose.
The whole conversation lasts less than 5 minutes.
We create a plan. I’ll wake her up gently. I’ll give her a big hug. She will pick out her clothes and bring them into my room. We will get dressed together.
Of course, this is actually what we do most days. For whatever reason (lack of sleep?) today was an anomaly. We work together to get back on track.
Some of the assumptions that make this kind of parenting possible for us:
1. We are both equally responsible for rough mornings. (No pointing fingers or blame allowed.)
2. Our relationship is valuable. It might get messy, but ultimately we both want to feel connected to each other.
3. We are both capable of making changes and working together so that we can each get what we want/need.
4. Tomorrow is a new opportunity to make it better.
Connect with Dr. Andra Brill at her website Happy Mindful Families
Latest posts by Andra Brill ( see all)
- Advocating for Your Child When They Don’t Like School - September 24, 2015
- The Important Question to Ask After Yelling - April 10, 2015
- Why Problem Solving Wins over Fixing Behavior - March 4, 2015