I was recently catching up with a friend who was sharing some of the challenges her family faced throughout 2013 including illness and death of several loved ones. She shared, “I can’t wait to have this year behind me,” and with the year she had, I can understand her sentiment.
Talking to my friend reminding me of conversations I have with my children, about starting anew each day and the possibilities that it brings. On days where my boys experience being upset about something and seem unable to control how their emotions manifest: crying, tantrum-ing, fist throwing, kicking, etc., I talk to my children about alternate ways they can express their feelings: ways that will allow them to feel the emotion and work through it, without having to deal with negative consequences (e.g. losing a privilege). It’s not easy–sometimes for them, sometimes for me, sometimes for us both. I continue that while they may lose a privilege that particular day (to help reinforce their need to embrace other ways of handling themselves) that get to start fresh the next day. I do this because it helps my kids understand their are immediate consequences for their actions, and that the punishment won’t drag on indefinitely. There are times when a behavior warrants a multiple day punishment, which we sometimes implement, but my husband and I most often offer ways for our children to earn their privilege back sooner, particularly if our child can demonstrate they are making progress towards mastering a desired behavior.
As we go into the 2014, there is an opportunity for each of us to start anew: in our relationships, in our interactions, and in our responses.
How do you help your children work through their emotions? How do you help them start anew?