Prateek was upset with his son. His son had dropped his phone and now there was a crack across the screen. But when he spoke a little harshly to his son, his son crumpled up and ran to hide. He refused to come out of his hiding place for a long time, even after his parents tried to coax him out of there.
Tasleem, too, finds her daughter is so sensitive, she cannot tolerate her mother’s mildest scoldings.
As parents, we should work towards trying to stay calm and expressing ourselves firmly but lovingly when we want to correct our children. But parents are not saints. There are times when parents find they are so genuinely upset with their children that they need to scold or express strong disappointment. Many children feel so crushed when their parents are upset that they do not know how to react. So, on a day when your child and you are both in good moods, consider teaching your child what to do when you get upset next time. Explain that your love is unconditional and that those moments when you are angry with them will pass. But if they do not know what to do when you are angry with them, here is what they can do.
- If you are talking too loudly or scaring them by coming too close, tell your child to express themselves in a gentle and polite manner. “Mamma, you are shouting. It is scaring me.” Or “Papa, you are coming too close.”
- Look down. Often children find that making eye contact with an angry adult is intimidating. Give your child the option to look down or away. Do not be offended by this.
- Teach your child that a heartfelt apology is what you expect when they have made a mistake.
- Try to fix the mistake. Give your child examples of mistakes that he/she can fix. For example, if you are upset about the mess your child left on the floor, inform your child that the best way to handle that situation is to simply clear it up. This might seem like common sense to you, but a sensitive child might simply forget common sense when he/she is confronted by your anger or disappointment.
- Take a break after it is over. Advise your child that after you finish talking to him/her, your child can go to lie down in their room or sit in a comfortable place to read or play something quietly. It is okay to cry. It is okay to be a little upset with your parents too. Take the break. Although you might think your child is incapable of understanding this notion of a self-imposed time out, many children follow this advice and gladly rush off to sit in their rooms with a book to silently recover.
As a parent, we certainly cannot be perfectly calm all the time. Sharing your tips with your child means you are giving your child the tools needed to face stormy weather that all relationships face on occasion. It does not mean that we should give up trying to control our tempers.