Here are 4 ways to reconnect with your kids when they are upset:
1️⃣ Ask if its ok to give them a hug (and then hold them until they let go!) – We always assume that people in pain want to be hugged. Sometimes our kids may just be plain angry (that doesn’t mean they are not hurting as well) and they don’t want to be touched. Ask first, 9 times out of 10 they will want a hug. The 10th time, say that the hug is still on offer if they want it later.
2️⃣ Sit with them in silence, let them feel your presence and support. – As parents we need to get comfortable with the uncomfortableness of silence and yucky emotions. Sometimes all it takes is being there sat next to them, hearing them crying it out. It makes them feel heard and seen and that goes a long way in making them feel safe. Once they feel safe, they will become calmer as well.
3️⃣ Ask if you can read them a book. – provided they are not crying their eyes at that moment, cuddling up and reading a book is a great way for them to be with you without having to talk to you. A soothing voice and familiar book can help them connect with feelings of calmness and it may encourage them to talk about how their feeling and whether you can help.
4️⃣ Let them know you are there if they want to talk and if they don’t go back to No 2 above! – sometimes kids (and even adults) don’t want to talk. Everyone processes hurt and anger differently, our most important job as parents is to hold the space for them to feel their feelings. But its also important for them to know that if they want to talk about it, you are there to listen. Remember no judgment and no finger pointing allowed! Let them talk and vent and listen – you will be surprised how much they share once they start.
I know that the hardest thing we have to do as parents is sometimes just being present when they are hurting. Sometimes they might be angry with you or with someone else but to anyone that knows seeing their little faces in tears is hard because as parents all we want to do is to make it ok.