Let me tell you about my best friend, aka Desmond, my five year old son. Desmond is the sweetest kid with a serious temper. I’ve mentioned him before as my kid who’s nearly on the spectrum with ADHD and Autism – one of those kids that strangers and family members might hint at asking if he is, but doctors have tested and found he just has some overlapping symptoms due to sensory imbalances. (Which means public schools won’t give him extra special treatment and people often don’t extend the same grace to him as they would kids who’ve got a diagnosis).
Desmond is often non-verbal. He was a delayed speaker and does not like to use words to express feelings. But here’s what happened that melted my heart: Two days ago we spent a long day together just him and I. Then yesterday I spent the day formatting the 2023 Everyday Joy Planners (there will be a daily and a weekly option next year!) As I was putting the boys to bed last night, Desmond asked if I’ll lay with him, of course I did. Then he tells me with his words, full sentences too, that he didn’t get enough time with me today before I was just working all day.
It melted my heart that I had been so lost in my work that I didn’t take any breaks to just bond with him a little. But it also filled my heart that he used his words so well to speak what it was he needed from me. My mama heart was so happy at his progress, and I could have felt guilty for not giving him enough time that day, but I chose not to. Feeling guilt wouldn’t have changed anything, it was already done. Instead, I decided that today would be different. Today and everyday moving forward, I will check in with my kids throughout the day to be sure I’m not spending too much time working and they feel seen and heard and loved all through the day.
This brings me into today’s episode. Kids are tiny humans trying to figure out this whole world and sometimes they are going to throw massive tantrums or get things wrong or have a really hard time adjusting. I was just talking to a friend about how grown women act when they get their coffee order wrong. It’s easily compared to when our toddlers get their milk put in the wrong color cup. Wonder where our kids get it from?
It makes sense that our kids are going to throw a fit at things that upset them, and it makes sense that we get upset when things go wrong, it also makes a lot of sense that our kids throwing fits will send us into a fit as well. Your kids didn’t get what they wants (the yellow cup) and you didn’t get what you wanted (a kid who isn’t throwing a fit over a stupid cup) so now you’re both reacting to the situations that rubbed you the wrong way and turned your expectations upside down.
The real question here is: How do we stop being so triggered by our kids’ annoying behaviors.
When we learn to remain calm and untriggered by our kid’s fits, we can hold our boundaries and stick to a consistent model of parenting. When we give in to the tantrums we teach our kids that if they push us far enough, we’ll give in.
Are you ready to take the steps to set the right tone for your family? You’re the gatekeeper, you decide the energy of your home. When someone in the family gets panicked and worked up, are you going to join them or calm them? If you’re going to calm them, you first have to calm yourself. Stay grounded. Stay rooted. Stay chill. Even when the world feels like the walls are closing in.
Why do our kids trigger us?
We tend to be more triggered when our needs aren’t taken care of. Our kids tend to be more triggering when their needs are not being met.
Like a kid acting out because they haven’t had enough bonding time with you lately. Or crying for their favorite snack because they got too hungry and now all that they want is that one thing that they are thinking of and nothing else will make them happy.
Give them grace, give yourself grace.
This is the one rule of life that can change your whole world: EVERYBODY IS DOING THE BEST THEY CAN WITH WHAT THEY HAVE.
The thing is some people have anxiety, a lack of sleep, intense hunger. Sometimes what you HAVE is something that’s holding you back or tripping you up. You don’t need to change, your environment does, or your habits need to change. Maybe you don’t eat nutritious foods, or get enough sleep, or your home is packed with clutter and no room feels restful to you anymore.
Sometimes what you have is a negative thought or limiting belief that keeps you from moving forward and pursuing peace.
Get grateful when you’re triggered.
Like Elizabeth mentioned in episode 15, use a When, Then statement to be prepared for stressful situations. When (trigger), then (solution).
When my kids are fighting, then I’m going to step outside.
I’ve told you this before that rewiring your brain to be grateful is going to change how you interact and respond to stress. When your kids are triggering you, then step outside and reflect on how grateful you are to have those kids, think of every little thing you love about them. Do this enough it’s going to make your new impulse to be peaceful and grounded in the chaotic moments.
It’s just like my coffee pot story – when my then one year old broke the glass coffee carafe. I’d been practicing this specific method of gratitude in the chaos, so when I walked in the kitchen just as my kiddo threw that carafe on the ground, shattering it, my brain thought “chaos means gratitude next.” I was immediately overcome by gratitude and love for that kid. I knew what was important to me, him. Not my coffee, my baby.
When you’re well practiced in deep gratitude, you’re not going to have to tell your kids how much you love them, they will see it, they will feel it. They will feel loved when they mess up. They will feel loved when they have a fit. They will feel loved unconditionally, because YOU didn’t get triggered by their unwanted behaviors.
Get grounded and aligned.
In The Happy Mom-Brain Workbook I share a lot of my favorite ways to get grounded, but I want to mention some of those here to you.
Breathing – Whether it’s the box method, the 4-7-8 method, or simply taking 3 very slow, deep breaths in and out, it’s going to help calm your nervous system and help you to think more clearly.
Earthing – get outside and put your bare feet in the dirt. Stand there, or sit, or lay, and feel where you are. Science speaking, there’s an ionic charge happening here.
Hydrotherapy – take a bath, go for a swim, splash water on your face, or drink water. Humans need water, it’s liquid life.
Words – whether it’s mantras or affirmations or scripture, words are powerful. Here’s a few of the phrases that help me when I’m feeling stressed out by my beloved children.
- “Everybody is doing the best they can with what they have.”
- “I’m a good mom, who’s having a hard day.” (thanks Elizabeth, ep 15)
- “His urgency is not my emergency.”
- “I am safe, my child is safe.”
- “This feels big right now, but it’s not always going to.”
- “Someday this moment will feel very small.”
- “This is how my child learns and grows.”
- “My child will not hear me if I yell.”