Today was meltdown day at our house.
The day started out as a normal day. No huge issues. We got to church close enough to on time with minimal rushing. Got a great picture from my little boy after Sunday School. They apparently talked about heaven… he drew a picture with the sun, a cloud, God, and “your daddy, Mommy!” Sweet. (my dad passed away when Andrew was a baby… he doesn’t remember him but wants to talk about him a lot). It appeared it might be a good day at church. Plus I always find it amusing that I get detailed pictures of God and the Holy Spirit. I bet God loves them as much as I do.
How wrong I was. About the peaceful day, that is.
Andrew was a bit squirmy as we talked a bit before church started. Without going into excruciating detail, a relatively small event (me throwing away a drink of his after he kept disobeying me) turned into major meltdown mode. Really. Complete with hitting and “I hate you!”s (from him to me, that is). And to make a really long story short, I spent half of church sitting outside the building trying to calm down an out of control 4 year old. Only to walk back into church and out again within 5 minutes. And then walk *back* in church in time for the children’s church dismissal only to have my husband finally join in the situation by telling Andrew he wasn’t allowed to go to children’s church. That one got Andrew upset again and me angry as well since I’d just spent so much time defusing the situation on my own. Having mommy about to be in meltdown mode herself on top of an angry preschooler and a dad coming too late into the situation doesn’t make for a good combination. So… situation at our house…. basically everyone is mad at everyone else over the afternoon. It got better eventually.
Once Andrew calmed down from that flood of anger that leaves him completely unable to talk about why he is mad, I spent some time this morning answering a lot of questions about anger. I told him (again) that he can be mad, but he can’t hit or scream. (But… well… I scream.) He asks me what he is supposed to do if he can’t hit or scream and I tell him to talk about what is wrong. He actually does amazingly well at that for a 4 year old. I tell him that talking about it doesn’t mean he is going to be happy, or that he is going to end up always getting his way. (And… wow… it’s hard for me to not get my way too and I have 30 years of dealing with disappointment over him)
I’m not feeling like I’m a great parent today. At the moment, I’m at a loss in how to help kids deal with disappointment and anger. I don’t do well at it myself. I tend to be either a conflict avoider or one who gets mad and then gets over it. I tend to err towards not following through with consequences as a parent… or having nothing but consequences. (I have yet to determine consequences for this morning’s behavior, if any).
So… turning to anyone reading out there for help. How do you help your kids deal with disappointment? How do you help your kids learn to express anger *appropriately*? How do you deal with those days (weeks) where you feel all you are doing is doling out one negative consequence after another… and it isn’t fun for anyone in the family.
And, why oh why do all of the massive meltdowns in our life tend to happen at church?
For most of today, I thought the only thing I was thankful about was that at some point it would be over. I picked Andrew up from class at church tonight and got this:
So, today I am thankful for rough days that end on happy notes. I’m thankful for having the privilege of being a parent… even on the tough days. I’m thankful that I am entrusted with this huge responsibility to raise a child… even on the days I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or I’m screwing it all up.
I thought it was cute that he was saying “I love you” in the picture. (If you are fluent in reading 4 year old writing and the quirks of left handers… “I love you” is written backwards! At least, I *think* that is a quirk of left-handers from what I can find on the internet… makes sense to me as another lefty but I don’t remember learning how to write!)