“I was a wonderful parent before I had children.” ― Adele Faber. Is that not the truth of it? When we become parents, we look back on past experiences of other people and their parenting skills. We have decided what we will and won’t do with our children. We have it all figured out. Then, suddenly, we become the parent with the toddler pitching a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store floor and all eyes are upon us! Now we are faced with all that we thought we knew and our plans to be a parent verses what is happening in the floor in front of us. Take a breath! Before rationality goes flying by us out the door, before we delve into an emotional reaction… let’s think about center mindedly diffusing the situation with our emotionally minded child.
Understanding the Mind – Emotional
Using the tantrum situation above, let’s get started trying to understand what’s going on. That child you love so dearly lays sprawled in the floor, screaming like he’s being tortured, kicking and flailing about like a caged animal, is having an emotional reaction to a situation. Maybe you know what the trigger is, maybe you missed it. The child is reacting from an emotional mind. A young child does not have the ability yet to think from a reasoning mind. What the child needs is for the parent to understand their emotion. Not approve it and not deny it. The emotional mind only sees the feeling. It does not differentiate right from wrong.
Understanding the Mind – Reasoning
The onlookers who stand in judgement around the parent, in this situation, are utilizing a reasoning mind. They see a situation that has gone awry and immediately apply the knowledge they have or think they have on the subject. They may even offer a word of advice. They know the answer to the problem and the emotion of the child is not a factor. This is the reasoning mind. It’s a staunch right and wrong way of thinking and nothing could sway their response.
Understanding the Mind – Maturity
The mature mind completes acts of reasoning with emotion. The mature mind has the ability to think about the situation and respond in a positive compassionate manner. It considers the emotion of the child and reasons what the best reaction to calm the situation would be. This is center mindedly diffusing the situation.
The Mind of a Child
While a child has not yet developed the ability to think with a reasoning mind, it does not negate the fact that the adult’s role is to teach the child how to think reasonably. This requires the parent to repeatedly discuss with the child behavior and how to utilize critical thinking skills. Present the child with options. Listen to the child. Express empathy and compassion. “I’m sorry, but the rules are if you behave in the store then you can get a snack. Let’s work on being good in the store and next time you may get a snack.” Taking the child’s mind off the problem can be of enormous help. Ask the child to help load or unload the cart, hand you stuff, find an item, or anything that may make the child feel useful. We all need to feel loved and needed in life. A child is no different.
The Mind of a Parent
In this rush, rush world we, as parents, tend to just want to get our business done and out of the store as quickly as possible. We have worked all day, we are tired, hungry, and just not feeling our best. We certainly don’t want to be in a grocery store at that moment, but shopping is part of our survival. A parent will often resort to a reasoning mind under these circumstances. This will ultimately lead to a negative interaction with the child. The parent must utilize the mature part of the mind to help the child understand why that behavior is not their best option. This will take a lot of practice and much tolerance and patience on the parent’s part. Disregard the onlookers. Parental opinions are simply that. What one parent does with one child, does not mean that same technique will work with another parent and their child. Each parent must learn to understand their child and how to best help them grow and mature. It’s a work in progress. Be patient and persevere.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2019