Is another opportunity to
Connect – with ourselves and others
To lean in and listen
Co-operate with the feelings or person instead of pushing away
Do your children ever fight? With their siblings, with you or with other children? I have 3 sons and when they used to fight or be mean to each other I remember feeling physical pain in my body and swirling thoughts. Did this mean they didn’t like each other, were they going to grow up to be violent, what would other parents think if they hurt another child, had I done something wrong as a mother??? These were just some of the many thoughts in my head – all of which lead to big emotions for me – anxiety, fear, disappointment, frustration, helplessness and so on and of course if I reacted to my sons when I was having these feelings the words that came out were unkind as well. “Why are you so mean? Why can’t you just be nice to each other? What’s wrong with you? You have to be kind to your brother? I’m so disappointed and of course the inevitable – Go to your room!”
As I heard myself saying these words memories of my own childhood came rushing back and I realised that the words I was hearing were the same words I heard as a child from my parents – I was parenting reactively and unconsciously, just as they did. Did this make me a bad mum – no, will it teach my children to be kinder – no, will it teach them how to manage conflict – no, does it mean I’m repeating the same mistakes my parents made – yes, do I know better – I do now.
Conflict is part of life, we disagree, we have difficult feelings when people do things we don’t like, we struggle to verbalise how we feel and what we’d like instead and children in particular struggle to manage their impulses when they have an immature brain. Our role as a parent is to learn how to manage our own conflict in a better way, to learn how to manage our own difficult emotions and not blame, shame or be mean when we are struggling and to teach our kids how to engage their upper brain as it develops to help them do this too.