“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
When your children lose themselves in emotions, you get to be the lighthouse. Stay steady and clear, remembering who they really are. This will help them find a way back to themselves.
Emotions feel so strong that you can forget that they will pass. An upset child may be so hijacked by their feelings that they say unkind words, yell, even throw things or hit. Parents can also get caught up in a big reaction to emotions, saying unkind words, yelling, giving ultimatums or punishments, or hitting.
We know this doesn't help, right? But it's hard to stay calm. This week, I’m offering a series of posts about how (and why) to stay steady.
Remember that you are not your emotions. When a child is upset and acting out, let your own feelings happen without acting them out. It’s okay to be angry, disappointed, or frustrated with your child and you can feel that without losing it!
A wise parent knows that emotions are like an intense storm, they come and go. When your child is in the throes of a storm, remember who they really are! Respond to them with compassion, knowing that it is hard to feel such big feelings. Help them to be safe, stopping them if they're hurting people or objects. Care for your feelings so that you can stay steady for your child. Don't say much because they aren't able to listen. Wait for the storm to pass, keeping them safe, staying nearby if possible, and loving them.
It’s a lot, right? But these things are so important! When you stay connected, not adding your own big emotions to theirs, you are like a lighthouse, showing them the way. Once the storm passes, there’s more opportunity to work with them (more on that tomorrow).
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.