It’s no secret that emotions run high in our house. My three and a half year old, M, swings from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other like a monkey moving through trees in the jungle (which is what I feel like I am living in a majority of the time). She’s hungry but not hungry, sad but not sad, tired but not tired, hot but not hot, all. day. long. Then she wants me, but she doesn’t want me. She needs help, but she wants to do it by herself. Her clothes are too tight, but then they are too loose. She wants to know the name of the song, but she doesn’t want me to tell her. It’s exhausting. Are we sure three year olds and their parents actually make it through this year?! Sometimes it feels like the chances are slim to none.
It was in the midst of one of these many monkey swings that a breakthrough occurred. It began while I was driving the children to the grocery store. M started carrying on about something and things just escalated until she was in full out meltdown mode while strapped to the confines of her car seat. She was beside herself, and I was trying to make it through the moment while keeping us all safe on the road at the same time. We were past the point of talking, and it was clear that damage control was the one and only solution.
“Would you like to hold my hand?” I asked.
“Yes,” came the sniffled response. So I reached back (yes while I was driving and not recommended) and held her hand.
It got quiet. Then came the sound of a shuddery sigh. I held her hand for the remainder of the way, and by the time we made it to the grocery store all was well.
I will admit that hand holding wasn’t exactly my first choice for a response. When one of your precious little ones is loudly losing her marbles one by one from the back seat, certainly the last thing we might be inclined to do is to hold her hand! This particular instance, however, was successfully diffused by simply reaching out. There is so much focus on how to talk to our children, what words to use, when to talk, and what not to say. This was such a powerful reminder for me that sometimes our children don’t need us to say anything. They just need us to hold their hands, reassure them that we are here, and that they are safe and loved. Sometimes reaching out results in them reaching in and accessing the part of their little emotional worlds that allows them to calm down and find peace.
This is actually happening all over the city of Houston and surrounding areas right now as people work together to recover from Harvey. No one necessarily knows what to say or how to say it, but everyone knows when to extend their hand to another person and just be there. Reaching out is what we do. It’s who we are. Let us not forget to put this into practice with our own children, especially when they need us the most.
Find the joy~
PS: Don’t forget that Small Hands Big Steps can support you with all of your parenting needs. From overwhelmed new moms to those that just need help with a particular issue, we can tackle it all. Contact us here.