when i'm feeling sad, or angry, or frustrated...
the last thing i want to hear is "it's okay." or "calm down."
i want someone to acknowledge how i feel. i want to hear "yes! you're sad! what just happened really sucks, and you're pretty sad about it." i'd also love for someone to just sit there with me until i felt better about it all. literally. hold my hand, look into my eyes, and just wait. wait until i'm ready to move on.
yet, so often, when our children are melting down, the first thing we say is "it's okay..." or "calm down..."
when, it can be so much more helpful to simply acknowledge what they're feeling. not even why they're feeling that way... just what they are feeling.
today, leo had a pretty rough time when he wanted a toy from the garage, but just couldn't settle on what toy to put away from inside first (we kind of have a one-for-one system). he hemmed and hawed, and just couldn't make a decision. i gave him a lot of time, and a lot of chances, and eventually had to close the garage. so no toy trade happened. and the meltdown ensued.
at first, i was frustrated. and then, i sat with him. gave him a hug.
"you're really sad, huh?"
"i know. i can see you're feeling sad."
"i didn't want you to close the garage."
"i know. i understand you didn't want me to close the garage."
no need for explanation (at this stage of the game...that can come later). just reflection. acknowledgment. understanding.
it's amazing how powerful that can be. no one being told not to feel a certain way. it not only seemed to make leo more comfortable, but it also grounded me, and lifted my frustration. we just sat there for a few minutes on the kitchen floor, and stayed close as he had a good cry.
at one point, after sitting with him for awhile, i told him that if he was still sad, that was fine, but i was going to do some work now. i'd give him one more big hug, and then start my work.
and he said "i need somebody".
so i stayed with him longer. what was it... a total of 5 minutes? 10 at most? 10 minutes of giving him support... and love... and just my presence.
and it felt so much better than me pointlessly telling him to stop crying, to stop feeling the way he can't help but feel.
give it a try. just be there. in that moment. no why's. just because. and reflect.