It all happens so fast. One thing leads to another and then, their you are, like a boxer knocked out in the ring; your head is spinning, your adrenaline is rushing and you’re wondering what just happened!?
When you try to recall the event and put the pieces together you remember raising your voice, saying some things that you probably, on second thought, shouldn’t have, and in all likelihood, you’ve divvied out some unreasonable punishment that you’ll probably go back on anyway.
Once you mumble a few curse words and rebuke your children’s behaviour under your breath, you then start to wonder who was really at fault here?
And then, you most likely find yourself falling victim to the inevitable guilt and shame that accompanies any interaction where you’ve lost your cool and acted in a way that you, well, now regret.
The only question is, what can I do about it now?
What’s done is done and, quite frankly, I wonder if the damage is irreparable!?
I hear your concern and I’m here to pull you out of the rabbit hole of guilt and shame and turn you in the direction of repair.
So here are five things that you need to know when you’ve lost it on your kid and need to restore the trust in your relationship with them.
1.There’s ALWAYS room for repair– Sometimes when I replay my performance back in my head I feel miserable, and pretty discouraged. I think that I’ve hit an all time low and there’s no turning back. And if I focus solely on those thoughts, well, sure, that’s all there is to it. But, if draw on the possibility that even though I messed up, I can repair the damage, then by doing so I’m actually creating the potential, an opening if you will, to reconnect with my child. So beware those defeating thoughts that will keep you trapped in your own experience, and open yourself up to possibility of repair.
2.Don’t be so quick to put yourself down– When the storm passes and you find yourself filled with regret over your overreactions and misbehaviours, it’s reasonable to think that the way you acted was unacceptable. But what we tend to do is throw in for good measure the belief that what we were feeling and thinking at the time was unacceptable too. Now I’m not saying that what you were feeling, you know irritable and impatient, are feelings that you shouldn’t aspire to manage. What I’m saying is that whatever came up for you in those moments before or during your meltdown were there, and are very real, and the sooner you accept them the sooner you can begin to manage them. And not only that, but taking pause to honor your feelings will also allow you to venture out of your own experience and begin to see things from your kids point of view, which is the most important ingredient to repairing a ruptured relationship.
3.See it from their point of view– Like in any relationship, if you’re going to make amends for your behaviour, you’ll have to step out of yourself and see things from the other’s point of view. Because when you apologise to your kid for whatever it is that you’re apologising for, you’re not just apologising for the way that you behaved, but for the impact that it had on your child. I’m sorry that I snapped at you or accused you for doing something that you didn’t do, not because I don’t like seeing myself behave that way but mostly because of how it affected you. When I consider how you experienced my melt down, well, I’m guessing you probably felt rejected, hurt and alone, and for THAT I am sorry.
4.It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it-Parents, including myself, get caught up on the right words to express their regret and sorrow over whatever happened between them and their kid, but the when it comes to acknowledging your mistakes, asking for forgiveness and reconnecting to someone you hurt, the most important thing is not what you say, but how you say it. It’s important that whatever you say is authentic, meaning that you’ve taken responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings and behaviour, you’ve been realistic and fair in your expectations of your child and you’re staying in touch with the bigger picture- that your relationship with your kids
5.No one is perfect; better they learn that from you first– When you lose it on your kids it’s easy to become convinced of all the bad habits and behaviours that your modelling to your children. But if your taking the time to reflect on your misbehaviour, and taking the initiative to repair your relationships with your kids after a meltdown, then what your teaching your kids is that, alas, you’re not perfect. And guess, what, they don’t have to be either. And the sooner we all accept that truth, the better off we’ll be.
Living with kids, caring for their every need and raising them to be happy, kind and capable people is hard. And sometimes it all piles up and you lose it. But instead of bringing yourself down and holding yourself back, embrace your imperfections and move forward toward repair with yourself and your child.