Multi-Tasking- How to help those times when you’re juggling life and parenting go better

“I want to go play in the playground. I want to go play in the playground. I want to go play in the playground,” the little girl repeated over and over like a CD skipping (remember those?!). She repeated this probably about fifteen times before her mom looked up from her phone. Mom looked sweetly at her little girl and said, “We can’t go to the playground, love. We’re watching your sister play. Look at her go!! Wow, did you see that?” The mom’s tone was loving and kind. She was clearly a skilled parent who could shift gears and be back in connection in an instant.

After a moment she looked back down to her phone again, immersed in whatever it was she had to take care of. Her little girl took notice soon after. 

“Mama, mama, mama, mama…” she called. The mom didn’t seem to be hearing it at all. She seemed to be “in the zone” on her phone taking care of her juggling act of working mom-ly duties. 

“Mama, mama, mama…” it didn’t stop. At this point she was crawling on her mom, who didn’t seem to register that she was being called. She was clearly dealing with something important on her phone. I felt for the little girl. I felt for the mom. I have been in both of their shoes and I know how hard it is on either end. I’ve been the daughter whose mom was check-out with intense life circumstances. And I’ve been the mother who juggles a lot and has left my daughter hanging on more than one occasion. 

“Mama, mama,” she kept trying to get mom’s attention. After a few minutes of this mom finally looked up. Right away, her eyes sparkled as she looked at her girl and pulled her in close. “Hi sweetie! I’m so happy we get to spend the afternoon together. I haven’t had time with you in so long!” 

I have no idea what their circumstances were. But the mom had a posture, an air of someone who was holding a lot and doing the best she can. This was a mom doing the very best she could in that moment. This was a child needing her mama and doing what she needed in order to be seen. She just wanted to be seen. 

In this day and age we parents are often like a circus act, juggling and balancing so many moving parts while standing on our heads. For most of us, we aren’t rested. We aren’t supported. We aren’t nourished with everything we need to thrive. So we juggle, we hold it all together. It can often feel like it’s a trade-off—that we either fail our children or we fail at our job, but either way no one is winning. 

What children need is presence. And what we parents often need is time. When we don’t give our presence to our child when s/he is asking, we lead them to feel unseen, unheard, unimportant. The little girl I was watching had to repeat herself 15-20 times to even get her mama to look up at her. Not because her mom was a bad parent or didn’t love her daughter. The way she connected when she did look up was beautiful. She was sweet and loving, nurturing and gentle. 

She just wasn’t present. So when she told her daughter, “I’m so happy we get to spend the afternoon together,” but then looked back down on her phone right away, she disconnected. And this created a confusing situation for her child. Each time her mom didn’t answer, the daughter raised the volume, got more in her face, became more whiney. She ramps up her demands. She keeps pushing for the attention and connection that she deserves as a little one. If the mom could just take a pause and let her daughter know, “I hear you. I know you are there and you matter to me,” the daughter’s anxiety about getting mom’s attention would have settled. 

We need to let our kids know what’s going on when we’re not responding to them right away. Otherwise, they can feel unseen, unheard. Repeated experiences of this lead children to internalize a negative perception of themselves that they are not important or worthy of being seen and heard. 

Let me be clear. It’s ok to need a moment. It’s ok to send a message or check in with work if you need to sometimes. This is just a part of being a parent. But be sure and include your child so that s/he knows it’s not that they’re not important to you. Let your child know that you need to take care of something and you’ll be with them in a minute (be honest about the timing). Let them know you hear them. 

This mama was clearly a wonderful parent with so much love for her children. She also clearly had a lot on her plate. I hold no judgment. But I know what kids need and what can shift a simple interaction like this to a formative experience that can impact a child’s sense of self-worth and value. 

When you need to take care of something and your child is calling you, answer them. Here are some ways you can let them know…

“I hear you calling me. I’ll be with you as soon as I’m done with this.” 

“I want to hear what you have to say. I’m going to finish this really quick so I can give you my full attention.” 

“I’m here, sweetie. And there’s something I need to take care of. Once I’m done I’ll be ready to connect with you fully.”

“Thank you for your patience, sweetie. I know it can be hard to wait while mommy finishes this and I want you to know I see you.” 

3 Tips for Smoother After School Transitions

As parents, we often look forward to those precious few hours after school when we get to hang out with our kids. Then they get home and it can all fall apart! The big feelings, the hanger, the push-back on you… It isn’t that your children want to make your life miserable. It’s that they have been holding a lot together throughout the day and YOU are the safe place to discharge this energy and these emotions.

There are some things we can do to ease this transition and help after-school hours be more fun and connected. Check out these 3 simple tips!

1. Bring a snack in the car— often children are hungry from their school day. Waiting until they get home (where they feel safe to unwind) can result in a meltdown as soon as they walk in the door. Fueling them on the way home helps them have the sustenance to support their nervous system from adding “hangry” to the mix of after-school emotions

2. Plan for your play time— often we are rushing kids from one activity to the next. Have at least a couple days a week that are unstructured after school. Carve out 20-30 minutes in your afternoon plans to sink in and play with them. Get on the floor, turn off phones and really connect. 

3. Ask more specific questions— “how was your day” pretty much always leads to the same answer: “Fine.” If we ask “What did you do today?” we get back the famous, “Nothing.”  

When you check in with kids, use it as an opportunity to really learn more about them by asking more specific questions. What made you laugh today? What was your favorite thing in your lunch? Did anything happen today that you didn’t enjoy? Did you notice anyone do something kind for you today? Get creative and know that sometimes kids also just need some space and downtime to process their day. After some play (tip #2) they might be more open. 

These may seem simple but that’s the beauty of it! After school time can indeed be that precious, fun time that you’ve looked forward to when you and your children get to connect and enjoy each other.

Why does my child push everyone’s buttons? Attention-Seeking Behaviors

Many of us were raised hearing the phrase, “He’s just looking for attention, ignore it,” in regards to children’s difficult behaviors. And it’s true—it can seem like your child is pushing your buttons or their siblings’ buttons for no other reason than to just get attention from the others. This can be annoying, frustrating and even infuriating at times. 

We want our children to “behave” and attention-seeking behaviors can feel like the opposite. But here is the truth of the matter. Children seek attention because children NEED attention. And when they don’t know how to ask for it, and when they feel they’re not getting it, they act out. They create ways where you have no other choice than to pay attention to them. Of course it’s not the at loving, fun, connection attention that they desire, but it’ll do because at that point you are fully engaged and attending to them. 

Ignoring children’s behavior does not work and it does not foster emotional health, resilience or good behavior. It may stop the behavior temporarily. But it may also make them shut down. It may teach them that their needs are not valid and not worthy of being met. But it won’t shift the behavior. The behavior is happening because the child doesn’t know how to express his/her emotions yet. Sometimes this is due to their age and developmental stage, sometimes it’s due to the way emotions are dealt with in the family. Either way, it is possible to help children learn other ways to get attention that don’t involve hurting and upsetting others. 

This starts with connection. How we model emotions for our children has everything to do with how they learn to express them. And since emotions are the driving force of behavior, when kids can express their emotions in safe and healthy ways, they don’t need to act out to be understood. And when we can understand and meet them where they’re at, they truly feel seen, their nervous systems regulate and the need for difficult behaviors goes away. 

If you are seeing a lot of attention-seeking behaviors in your child, it’s likely that they need more time and connection with you. Be sure and intentionally schedule special play time with them several times a week so that they can process their emotions with you and connect with you. 

And teach your children how to ask for attention. “I see that you’re really pushing your sister’s buttons. I’m wondering if you’re trying to get some attention, sweetie. You don’t have to bug your sister to get my attention. You can let me know, ‘Mom I need some attention’ and I would love to give you that attention that you’re needing. Come here, do you want to sit on my lap and read a book together…” 

Feel into this—imagine if you received it as a child. When children feel seen, heard, met and understood they ground, their nervous system regulates, and they can act from their wise mind and express themselves in the ways we want to see from them.  

The two things NOT to do when your kids are having a meltdown

Let’s face it— our children are feeling machines. And sometimes their emotions can arise at inopportune times— the meltdown as we’re heading out the door. The tantrum just when the family has sat down to dinner. Sometimes even in public places where you feel like the worst parent in the world and want to crawl under a rock (but you can’t because your child is screaming and flailing and there’s nowhere to go). 

It is NORMAL to have these experiences. In 11 years as a child therapist I have never met a child who hasn’t had these experiences and I’ve never met a parent who doesn’t feel sometimes frustrated, overwhelmed and upset with their child’s emotions. 

But children are little feelers. And as a child, their emotional development doesn’t yet allow them to process their emotions in more smooth, calm ways (and let’s face it, most adults aren’t able to do that either). There are two parenting strategies I often see that can actually be counter-productive to getting what we want with our kids— the harmony, peacefulness and fun. 


Resistance is pushing back on their emotions. Unconsciously conveying a message that they are too much, their emotions are not ok. It’s the eye rolling, the, “Stop it”, “That’s enough.” “You need to calm down right NOW.” “There’s nothing to cry about.” “You can go to your room.”

This is where children internalize “I’m too much. My emotions are not safe. I am ashamed of my emotions. When I have emotions, I lose connection. I am not fully lovable because I’m not lovable when I’m having big feelings. I can’t have what I want when I have emotions” 

Children are feeling beings—let’s consider it their JOB as kids to feel big feelings and process these emotions with us (because they aren’t equipped to do it on their own). When we resist their emotions, we teach them to stifle a part of themselves that is normal, organic and needs to be expressed. It shuts down a part of them that needs to have a voice. 


Rescue is just what it sounds like. Rather than let them experience disappointment, loss, sadness, we cave and give them what they want (the TV, the treat, etc) because we aren’t comfortable with the emotion they’re needing to experience. 

If they’re having a meltdown because we gave them waffles instead of pancakes, we make waffles. We bend in order to avoid their emotions. Which is very scary for kids—because they shouldn’t have that degree of power (it’s scary for them), it teaches them that their emotions are not safe. That they can be used in manipulative ways even though it was never their intention to manipulate. And it implies that we can’t handle them, so we’re just going to do the easiest thing to stop having to deal with them. 

So what do we instead? We lean in to the emotions. We validate and give them genuine space to work through their feelings without shame or shut down. We let them know that it’s safe to feel what they’re feeling and that we are here to help them manage those big, hard feelings. 

Notice if either of these is something you do or have done (and you’re not alone—I have too : ) )

If it is, take some time and journal. What is hard for you about your child’s emotions? What gets triggered in you? Did your parents resist, rescue or both? 

No parent is perfect and I wouldn’t expect that of any of us. But the more we become aware of our patterns and the way our “stuff” is acted out with our kids, the more we can shift to respectful, authentic ways of parenting where everyone’s emotional experience can be expressed. As we make this shift, parenting becomes FUN, enjoyable, harmonious, and we see it as an opportunity to grow and become our very best selves.  

How to Get My Child to Listen to Me

Children “not listening” is one of the most common parenting challenges that I hear about as a Play Therapist and parenting coach. So how do we get our children to listen? We all want more harmony and peace in our households. None of us wants to nag our children or sound like a broken record. And let’s be real— the way our lives are set up isn’t easy—and it most definitely isn’t conducive to the developmental stages of MOST children—and I mean this whether you have a 1 year old or a 15 year old. 

Children move at a different pace than we do. Their frontal cortex isn’t fully developed until well into adulthood. The brain waves of children between age 2-6 tend to be more in a theta state—a meditative state and they are aware of what is around them. They’re not designed to be thinking about the 20 other things they need to be doing before bedtime. They live in the here and now. Children tend to be immersed in what they value and not what they don’t. And typically the myriad things we are asking of them are not the things that they value.

This, of course, can be hard for parents because our society doesn’t exactly embrace this here and now approach to life. Two parents have to work (or you just have one parent in a household). Not a lot of support. School starts early. Work days can draw into the night. It’s a lot for parents to manage on a good day, much less during a pandemic! 

And children are biologically designed to be individuating and finding the relationship to their own internal locus of control and power. Challenging us is a part of their journey in growing into their power. When we can meet this in healthy ways, not make them wrong for it, but redirect it, children listen better, they are more regulated, they feel supported and closer to us and to themselves.

How can we encourage our children to listen and create more harmony in our day to day life with our families?

Here are 5 steps that can get your children to listen: 

  1. First and foremost, make it a regular practice to listen to them. Yes, stop the clock, drop everything, get down on their level and listen.

    Children are watching us to learn how to do things. Do you attend to their needs and expressions or do you say, “Wait a minute”? Or also common, just ignore (not intentionally but it happens) what they’re saying as you run through the “to do” list in your head? Next time, try responding with, “I want to hear what you’re saying but I’m in the middle of something. I’ll be there in one minute.” And follow through. Pay attention to how you’re listening to your children and model what you want to see back from them.
  2. Make it fun! Children are drawn toward fun. It’s their natural way of being.

    How can you make your activity playful—a race, a contest, an opportunity for them to feel successful? Give them a buy in: “In our family we help each other. When we help each other, we actually have more time to play, to connect, to have fun, for hanging out with friends…” what are the things that are meaningful to them? Connect the dots between what they aren’t motivated to do to what they have to do.
  3. Recognize and appreciate when they do listen or when they do something before you ask (yes, over time of using these practices you’ll see more and more of this!!!). “I so appreciate  when you clean up your games when mommy asks you to. It leaves us more time to connect and I love that!”  Or, “It means the world to me when we work together so well. I feel like i can stay more peaceful and gentle with you and it feels much better to my body. How about you?”
  4. Not all children learn the same. Your child may be a visual learner and need picture cues. Or she may be an auditory learner. Your child may be a kinesthetic learner and needs to incorporate movement into their listening and learning.
  5. Sometimes there are emotions that need to be processed when a child feels powerless. Not listening can be a way they try and get their power back. Give examples with Scarlett where she is not participating, then I let her process her emotions and she’ll say, “you’re right” and help me with the thing at hand. 

We all want to be loved, heard and respected by our children. The respect we offer them can have everything to do with the respect we earn back from them. Listening needs to be an active give and take and when we invest our effort into our children’s emotional growth, their lives improves and so do ours.

I believe that the children of this generation are not here to be obedient, as previous generations were asked to do. They’re here to step into their own power in beautiful, loving, compassionate, vibrant ways. As they develop healthy relationships with their power and agency, they can create change in the world on every level. Our job as parents is to support them in doing this while helping them accomplish the tasks of the world and bodies we live in in an empowered way.  

Nothing is actually wrong!!

All my life when someone was having emotions my response was, “What’s wrong?” I didn’t second-guess it, this was just my understanding of emotions. If you’re emotional, something must be wrong. Can anyone relate?! 

Yet, as a sensitive little girl, I had big emotions ALL the time! So what this meant was that if I was emotional, there was something wrong with me. Internalized this and boy did it wreak havoc on a lot of my life over the years. 

Until I started working with children and realizing that so many of them have big sensitivities and feel things profoundly And then I realized…there’s nothing wrong at all! We have emotions and that’s OK! 

Our culture has equated emotionality with meaning that something is “wrong” with people when they’re emotional. But that is what’s wrong—not anything about the emotions.

Emotions are a biological part of our nervous system reacting to something we experience. They’re normal and we ALL have them!

Some of us do feel them bigger than others. We’re called Highly Sensitive People. We’re the healers, the artists, the teachers, the empaths, the intuitives… we’re all around, yet society hasn’t fully embraced us and upheld our gifts…YET 🙂 

If you are raising a sensitive child. A kiddo who feels his/her feelings deeply and is more affected by the “little things”, you’re not alone. And I’d love to have you join us in my upcoming course: Thrive: Raising Sensitive Children Masterclass

Because when we learn and teach children to harness the beauty and power of our emotions, they become our super power! And we can use them to create so much goodness and beauty in our lives.

The Importance of Playing With Children

Play is children’s love language.  It’s an opportunity for us to get to know them deeply and really sink into their world. Whether your child is 1, 11, or 17… playing with them is a huge part of helping their developmental processes and building their capacity for emotional regulation. Children are innately led to learn everything they need to learn through play. 

Think about it—even as adults we tend toward play. We exercise, hang out friends (or at least we did pre-covid), do yoga, go out into nature, etc in order to blow off steam and self-regulate. That’s OUR way of playing as adults. It is play! And if you’re not engaging in “adult play” that makes you happy—think about why and how can you change this. Because I can guarantee you it affects your metal health and happiness. Even for adults, play is a crucial part of our mental health and psychological well-being. It grounds us, it gives us a release, and it feels great! 

With our children it obviously looks different. But the core is that kids need to play. And playing with us is so important to their emotional well-being. Children are looking for a sense of proximity—a feeling of closeness to us. When we play with our kids it tells them that we want to be connected and we love being a part of their world. And it communicates this in their love language, so they can fully grasp our intention. 

Research has shown that play has a whole range of benefits. It helps young children build empathy, try on different ways of being. It helps develop their executive function and emotional regulation. It fosters creativity, gives them practice for social skills. And it can help to shed light on what they’re processing and working on emotionally, so that you can be a part of their integration and healing. 

Play can look different at different developmental stages. With babies it can be sitting with them and making musical instruments out of anything, as they get older you may be doing imaginary play, puzzles, rough housing, games like hide-and-seek. It can be reading together, doing arts and crafts and board games, ball sports. And maybe as teens you’re listening to music together, doing a crossword, going shopping, throwing the ball around. The key is that we are present during this time and that we give that clear message of caring and genuine enjoyment of who they are. 

If you’re finding that your child’s play is derailed—it’s hard for you to participate in, it’s aggressive, there are elements that you’re not sure what to do with, you’re welcome to reach out to me and I can help you troubleshoot this through a parenting session. As a play therapist of 11 years my specialty is children’s play. And I can help you identify what might be going on and how you can be a supportive and healing part of the process.

I want to encourage you to set aside 20 minutes at least twice a week (hopefully more) to really play with your child. Put the devices aside and make a commitment to have fun with this. Sink into their world and watch the magic that can unfold when we really allow ourselves to connect with our kids. 

And join us in our FREE Facebook parenting community!

Good Communication to Last a Lifetime

What we all want is to have loving, connected relationships with our children. We want our children to love talking to us about their lives. We wantthem to open up to us, to feel safe with us and for them to know they can come to us for anything. We want them to grow into adults who love our company, want to be around us and see us as their greatest confidantes. So how do we cultivate this from the start? Here I’m going to share with you the top strategies for communicating with children and, most importantly, helping them feel at ease in communicating with you.

  1. Stay curious and open
    Ask open-ended questions that foster sharing and connection. Here are some useful phrases to support the openness, “Tell me more about it,” “What was that like for you?” “How did you feel about that?” and, my personal favorite— “I wonder…” Questions of curiosity help us learn more about our children and they help our children to know that we are genuinely interested and care about what they’re sharing.

  2. Listen more than you talk
    It’s tempting to give advice, offer solutions and share our opinions with our children. But more often than not, it’s not what is helpful in inspiring them to lean on us for communication. It’s important that we slow down and set an intention to listen, rather than talk.
    Leave the distractions aside and be present with your child at these times. Pay attention. Make eye contact. Show delight in their delights, show genuine caring and empathy for the struggles. Reflect back to them the feelings they are expressing, “Wow, it sounds like that was really hard for you,” or “Yay, you’re so excited about that!”
    And ask permission before offering advice and solutions. When you get their buy-in, you know they actually want your help and it will penetrate far more than the unsolicited advice and opinions that can often lead to the dreaded eye roll and a break in the connection with you.

  3. Get to know your child’s communication style, rhythms and nuances.
    The more we are present with our children, the more we notice and can attune to the nuances of their connection and communication with us. Be sure and tune in when you hear their cue that they’re about to open up. Your child may say, “Mommy, guess what…” or they get real quiet for a few minutes but have a certain look on their face that you know all too well. Maybe they come sit next to you or come stand and watch you. Every child is different, but when we pay attention, we’ll be able to get to know our children’s nuances for communication. And we can take that as our cue to put everything else aside, listen and connect.

  4. No lectures
    Believe it or not, it’s completely futile!When we are tempted to lecture our children, it’s a cue that we are triggered and we’re trying to gain a sense of control. Far better to deal with our trigger than to create a disconnect with our child through a lecture. Lectures do not inspire children to listen and do what you want them to do. They merely make children feel disempowered and wrong, and we miss the mark on what our child was trying to communicate to us, either through their behavior or their language. 

  5. Share with them your experiences from childhood that relate to theirs
    Children love knowing that we can relate to them. It makes them feel heard and seen. It helps them know that they’re not alone and that someone really gets it. They love hearing our stories, both fun and challenging, of things we’ve been through. And they will remember these well into their own adulthood. Think of the stories your parents shared with you when you were a child— you undoubtedly imagined your mom or dad as a little one having the experiences that they told you about—and you remember those stories to this day. When we offer stories that let our children know that we’ve gone through similar experiences, it means the world to them and gives them permission to ask us for advice on how to handle things. 

The most important thing in fostering a lifetime of healthy, open communication with children is that we take a genuine interest and deep care in who they are and how they’re feeling. When we come at children with our own agendas, they shrink and retract from staying open with us. When we come from a place of understanding and openness, our kids feel loved, cherished and seen. When 

Setting Limits with Love

Imagine you are super excited, you have a ton of energy and you’re running around the house being your cute, goofy, wild little self. And then someone tells you, “STOP”. How do you feel? You probably feel shut down, at a loss, sad, ashamed… 

When we set limits with a hard “no”, especially when this comes with parental anger or negativity, children start to perceive themselves as “bad” and go to that place of shame and self-hate, when this is a repeated pattern. 

Setting limits is a necessary part of parenting. These little people are learning how to be in the world and often they don’t know how to pump or fully apply the brakes when something isn’t a good choice. Setting limits is a way that our children learn to make better choices. Children learn self-regulation through appropriate limit-setting. They can learn to set their own boundaries and to redirect their behavior. Now this doesn’t mean to start setting limits all over the place. Set limits when it’s necessary and allow the flow and creativity when you can. 

So how to we set appropriate limits? 

When our kids misbehave, it’s actually an opportunity for us to learn more about them, understand what they’re expressing about their emotional world, and to help them foster a deeper, more connected relationship with themselves—if we can support them in handling it well. 

For example—the child who hits his brother or peers when he’s angry is telling you that he needs help learning how to manage his anger in safe, healthy ways. The child who sneaks a cookie when she’s already been told no — another impulse control issue— is telling you that she needs some support in waiting our her body’s impulses. This information is important for you to know because it gives you direction on what you can be working on with your child in constructive ways. 

So how do we set limits when children are misbehaving? It has to start with connection. Disciplining children isn’t about punishments or consequences for them to “learn”. Those things don’t teach—they suppress and quite honestly they usually make children more frustrated, which comes out later in other ways. It misses the mark on what is being expressed by the child and doesn’t give them that full opportunity to be understood, met and redirected in safe and healthy ways.

Discipline actually comes from the word “disciple” which is rooted in learning. We’re helping our children learn that it’s safe to be them, their urges are normal AND that we’ll help them learn other ways to express what their wanting/needing/learning. We need to connect with their emotions and really become detectives for what the child is trying to communicate with their misbehavior. And then we address is from the place of connection. 

So, little billy who hits his brother… it could be something like, “Woah! I can see that you’re frustrated and I get that! Brothers are not for hitting. Let’s take some time apart and I will come in and talk to each of you about this.” 

I also love the phrase, “Show me another way.” When our children act out their emotions in those ways that can seem like “bad behavior” we can say, “Sweetie, I get it. You’re feeling a lot right now! It’s ok to feel upset—and I’m not going to let you break that—show me another way!” 

When you need to set a limit with your child, really check in with yourself first… do you need a moment to regroup, release your own triggered emotions and get to a place or regulation? Then consider—how can I connect first, and then redirect the behavior? How can i use this as an opportunity to understand my child better? How can this help us grow as a family? 

If you need help with limit setting and want to talk more, I’ll be soon offering some amazing courses on this and I offer one-on-one parent consultations to support you with your family’s needs. 

What to do instead of saying “Calm Down”

It’s time to stop telling our kids, “Calm Down”!    (or any version of calm down)

“But I thought that was the goal when my child is losing it—to get her to calm down,” says the disgruntled parent who is dealing with meltdown number 53 of the week—and it’s only Tuesday.

Here’s what I say: Our goal is to help children feel whole—grounded and connected to themselves in an authentic way. When a child is having a blow up, they are in an authentic expression of their emotional experience. And this emotional cycle needs the space and the time to release and express itself. In other words, children need to process their emotions to completion and we are there to provide the space, time and support to allow them to do this. 

Asking or telling children to “calm down” in these moments is not only virtually impossible, but actually teaches them to suppress and override their emotions without integration. This was likely our own childhood experience if we are someone (like most) who become triggered by our kids’ big emotional expressions. We were not taught that it is ok to truly have, feel and release our emotions. So our unconscious mind actually projects this unresolved part of ourselves onto our children.

In that moment of meltdown, blow up and big emotions, your child feels scared, overwhelmed and helpless. They are not freaking out in order to intentionally disrupt the family or manipulate a situation. They are overwhelmed by their emotions and don’t have another way of expressing those feelings. So they get their point across in the most effective way they know how, with a nervous system response that looks like a tiger in fight mode. 

The way to bring them back to a feeling of safety is to connect with them. And the only way we can authentically do this is if we are working on our own deep-seated triggers. Here’s the thing—our children are our greatest teachers. They are literally here to reflect back to us the parts of us that haven’t been healed and are still hurting. So when we see that our children are losing it, as much as we want to “calm down” (aka control) their behaviors, what we need to do is connect with ourselves. Take a breath, feel the sensations in your body, notice what emotions have come up for you. Are you angry, scared, helpless, overwhelmed, sad…? THIS is the part of you that needs your own love and support right now.

Now let’s come back to our little one—the one having a colossal meltdown and tearing apart his room, making threats, destroying things he’s worked hard on. He too is scared. He too is overwhelmed. He too needs love, support and acceptance. But he is little with an undeveloped frontal cortex, and he isn’t equipped to give it to himself at this point. So the honor goes to you. And here is what I suggest. Allow him to have his feelings. Let him know it is safe to feel what he is feeling. You can ask, “Would you like me to hold you while you have your feelings? I am in this with you. It’s safe to feel this. You’re not alone…” Then allow the feelings to move through while you become the container for his experience. Hold space, hold him close, let him know he is safe and he can let it out as he needs to. That you are here and you love him no matter what. 

And finally, when things have settled and you take a moment, come back to yourself. Journal. Move your body. Breathe. Do what you need to do to release your energy. But then become a detective for your own emotions by using the gift your child gave you. THIS is what needs to be healed in you. And the more you heal it, the less you will see it reflected back to you by your littles. Life becomes more harmonious, joyful and fun.

If you are in need of support for going deeper into your own journey with this, please reach out to your therapist or to me. I am here for you and I’d be honored to help you navigate your own healing through this amazing journey of parenting.