My eight year granddaughter recently told me that some parents “do bad things” to their kids, and that’s why they don’t’ live with them. It was a great teaching moment. I saw an opportunity to share the importance of learning to control their little tempers.
Me: You know how your brother (age 3) has temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way?
Her: Yeah! He’s really loud.
Me: And both mommy and daddy work with him to get over his tantrums, and get a better attitude, right?
She kept nodding as I shared, sometimes trying to grasp the ideas.
“You had tantrums when you were two and three. And we worked on ways to help you get over them. What worked for you is different than what works with him.”
Her: That’s right, Mimi. God made everyone to be different. Everyone is unique.
“Yes. And we know that if the mommy and daddy don’t know how to help their children get over having tantrums, or know how important it is, the children will grow up to have grown up size tantrums! Maybe their mommy and daddy didn’t teach them!”
Her eyes got wide.
“If no one taught them, they could get really frustrated when their kids scream and throw a fit. Some of those parents are the ones who do bad things to their kids. Maybe they don’t mean to, but they didn’t learn how to control their own temper so sometimes bad things happen.
Her: That won’t happen to me, will it! (Hugs… “no it won’t!”)
She said this as a determined statement and not a question, but welcomed the reassuring hug too.
She knows there are limits and she has to “have an attitude adjustment” now and then. And she sees how her parents handle her in a different way than they do her brother, since they have totally different learning styles. Of course, not everything they try is successful. It’s all On the Job training!
Our brief conversation was a very simplistic way to describe a serious problem to a child. The health of the parent is important to the health of the child. Kids read so much into their parents’ emotions.
There are many programs that help adults process their own pains and frustrations that they’ve grown up with. They can become healthier adults, healthier parents. One such program is Celebrate Recovery, which deals in a group setting with all forms of life issues and not just addictions. Another tool is the Life Languages™ profile which assesses an individual’s preferred communication style, and helps in knowing how to interact with others. We’ve found this to be a huge help in understanding the differences between mom and dad, and each of the kids. It makes On the Job training a lot easier!