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Mindful : April 2014
April 2014 mindful 39 family Next will come bargaining: “Mommy, if you’ll just let me skip my homework tonight, I promise I won’t make a fuss ever again! Pleeease?” It’s only when a child feels the disappointment of not having things go her way that she can move to the fina l stage: accepta nce. One of the best ways to help a child feel her disappointment is to be the loving Captain of the Ship who lets go of trying desperately trying to make her child feel happy and instead helps her feel her sadness and tears so she can adapt. Rather than coming at our children by using logic and reason to talk them out of their upset, we come alongside them with fewer words, more empathy, and a focus on helping them feel hea rd and understood. In Caroline’s case, she might ask questions or make comments to which she can be fairly sure Gemma will say yes. She could try saying things like, “It looks like you’re kind of worried that your worksheet will be really hard,” or “ You were really hoping Mommy would give you a free pass tonight,” or “I get the feeling you sometimes wish homework had never been invented!” → her to try—unsuccessfully—to make her daughter feel better. The truth is that when children are frustrated, they ca n respond in only two ways. One is agg res- sion—toward you, a sibling, or even themselves (“I’m so stupid. I hate myself!”). The other is adaptation: the frustrated child accepts what he can’t do or have, makes peace with it, and ultimately develops more resilience. For children to accept a situation they don’t like, they will move through the same five stages of grief that any of us do. First, there is denial. In Gemma’s case, she might think, “Maybe if I claim the work is too hard, Mommy will let me off the hook.” When that doesn’t work, there may be a nger. As in, “I hate you, Mommy! You’re so mean!” As “The Tyrant,” you prompt your kids to test the limits because they instinctively know that you—not they—are supposed to be in charge.