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Discipline and love - Melissa Swart
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Discipline and love

So a while back I was really frustrated with Xavier. His short life hasn’t been the easiest and everything he has been through has left some marks on his personality. He has the softest heart and he experiences his emotions very intense. This also means that he has a fiery temper and no matter how hard I’ve tried to teach him to manage it, nothing seemed to change. He would struggle with something and within seconds he would blow his lid.

Most times I would acknowledge the emotion and explain that this is not how we handle our anger, then send him to his room to let him finish his outburst on his own. Even though I always formulated my sentences in the way “they” say is right, I often times did it with a frustrated tone of voice. This did not help to steer the situation and just made him more angry. Then he would scream-cry until he eventually felt that his emotions has run out.

I’ve tried to teach him to manage it, nothing seemed to change. He would struggle with something and within seconds he would blow his lid.

I would feel so powerless in these situations. I want to raise children who are in touch with their feelings. I want to raise children who are emotionally healthy. I want to raise children who know that it is okay to feel what you feel and to cry when you want to cry. BUT I also want to raise children who can manage their emotions and not allow them to run away with them. So every time Xavier had one of his anger outbursts and I couldn’t help him steer through it, I felt like I was failing my child. I know one shouldn’t compare, but I started wrecking my brain over what I did differently with Xeresh that made her learn to manage her outbursts so quickly. Obviously she still has her moments, she is a child, after all, but I couldn’t figure out how to teach him to do the same.

Lately I’ve been trying something different and it has started to bare some fruit. It’s, by far, not smooth sailing yet, but at least it seems to be yielding some success. I started analyzing every reaction and started observing him a lot more. I saw that, because he experiences his own emotions so intense, he also experienced other’s emotions very intense. So when I raised my voice or reacted frustrated he would experience those emotions as if they were placed under a magnifying glass.

I started to react calmer to his out bursts (this is by no means easy) and instead of just talking through the situation and then sending him to his room, I picked him up and placed him on my lap so that he faced me directly. I would still acknowledge the emotion and give it a name, but I would also affirm him. I told him that mommy loved him very much and that he is a wonderful little boy. I also started focussing on increasing the amount of affirmations when he did something right and good (not that i don’t always shower my kids with compliments and encouragement). By doing this his positive tank is always overflowing and when the anger starts bubbling up I would remind him of how wonderful he is and that boys with his character doesn’t behave this way. I would still explain to him the it is okay to cry, but that we are not going to sour everyone else’s day, when we cry we can do it in our room (same as always).

Focusing on the positive more than the negative, made him also focus more on the positive feelings than the negative ones. We still have a lot of work to do in helping him manage his emotions better, but at least we are making progress. i love his passion and his ability to experience his emotions. I just want to turn that gift from an outburst into an invaluable tool.

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