The kitchen renovation was the reason for most of it. Work, the full moon and the icing on the cake was when my 7 year old acquired new sassy back chat antics from hanging out with some friends. Her ‘new‘ attitude pushed me over the limit. I got angry. REALLY ANGRY! And, for days too! I did stuff I normally don’t do, like take away their toys and threaten that we wouldn’t go do the fun stuff they like to do, etc. Some people get angry more easily than others. I am one of those people!
Did my anger make them cooperate more?
It was such a waste! And, I knowwwww better! But, that old record player somehow took over. That voice in your head that REACTS instead of responds.
After a few days of me being angry, and it getting me nowhere, I was ready to give up! Give up on what exactly… I’m not sure. But GIVE UP! And, I was sure that if I gave up and stopped being angry, that my children would walk all over me for the rest of my life.
I told them we were GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE (capital letters for my tone of voice), for a walk. They skipped ahead of me, laughing and blabbering away. We had just had a yelling/crying match a few minutes ago, and here they were oblivious to the fact that my mind was still reeling! I laughed at myself.
My anger meant nothing to them. It was not their anger and they would rather not have any part of it. At the moment of my epiphany, I took out my phone to take a picture of them walking down the path. When they saw me pull out the phone, they stuck out their butts, as if to rub it in my face that their joy had triumphed over my anger. The baby locked eyes with me and drooled. Awww….
Kids live in the present moment. Anger, to them, lasts for less time than it takes for a tear to dry. An adult’s anger doesn’t teacher a child ANYTHING worthwhile. An adult’s anger only confuses, creates fear and causes disconnect, which causes MORE undesirable behavior. A child who laughs at an adult’s anger is actually expressing fear. You might have experienced this and it’s infuriating! The more angry you get, the more they laugh and giggle! This happens because it’s too painful for children to bear the anger. It makes them scared. And, laughter is the antidote for fear.
I could see where if you didn’t know any other way of getting kids to cooperate, you would think that you needed to get more serious about your anger towards a child in order to get her to cooperate. But, it just doesn’t work!
Tonight, for about half an hour, we sat and played the silliest game of Snap. We were cheating and lying and laughing and laughing. Kids RESPOND to laughter. They RESPOND to fairness and silliness. It was only me. It was ALL me! As soon as my attitude changed, they were back to ‘normal‘. After the game, I quickly brushed their teeth and they fell asleep, without a complaint and with their total cooperation. Without a worry. Without any fear. Their cups were full. They were happy to have me back. And, I was happy to be back too!
Luckily, kids live in the present moment, so they’ll easily forget about the turd I was to them for a couple days.
To get more ideas on how to use play to get more cooperation from your children, I highly recommend reading the book, “Attachment Play” by Aletha Solter.