A neighbor drove by yesterday while the kids and I were playing in the front yard and said, “I didn’t know you were pregnant!” This made me realize that, due to not seeing anyone for the past few months, many people have no idea that I’m pregnant. My 28 week belly is a clear sign to the world that I am pregnant, however, my world right now is quite small. I’m due in August with number 3, a baby boy. Things are about to get a lot more chaotic around here!
Between being pregnant and having a 2 and 4 year old at home all the time, my patience is being tested in ways it never has before. In an effort to help myself, I have been reading and listening to — as much as I can find time for — books and podcasts about emotional regulation. I have a post in the works that goes into more depth that I hope to share soon.
For now, I wanted to share a short tip that I learned recently from listening to a zoom workshop with a developmental psychologist. She was talking about parenting styles and I freaked out a bit when she was talking about the authoritarian/aggressive style. While I don’t typically find myself checking most of the boxes in that style, I do sometimes visit. Particularly, when my kids are engaging in risky behavior.
What she shared has changed my responses for the better.
Worry speaks louder than anger
She noted that kids respond better to parents expressing worry or fear over anger. When we convey that something is dangerous, it has a greater lasting impact that expressing our anger.
I thought about this and realized that most of the times I am yelling, it is about something that is scary, or potentially scary. When Keener’s lack of impulse control strikes, the fear of what might go wrong raises my blood pressure. For things such as:
- throwing things
- being out of control
- running away with dangerous objects like scissors
- locking himself in a room
- making a mess with the bathwater
All of these things have potentially dangerous consequences.
While yes, these things all make me angry, I really am much more scared. With perspective, I realize I am much more worried, than angry. Worried that he may accidentally hurt Grace or myself and scared that he might hurt himself.
Changing this perspective and letting him know how scared I am has been game changing. For example tonight when he threw Grace’s scooter down our front steps, I channeled my anger into fear and said, “Wow, that was really scary! That came really close to hitting me. I know you didn’t mean for that scooter to come so close to me (more on positive intent to come) but that really scared me and was very dangerous.”
He instantly apologized and reiterated that he was not trying to hurt me (which I knew). Before getting this advice, I would have expressed my anger which would make my blood pressure instantly rise. Expressing my concern and worry not only helps me stay calm but helps Keener realize the impact of his behavior as well.