You’ve probably been there. That moment when your child is hanging onto you, bouncing up and down, a desperate plea coming from their vocal chords:
Mommy, MOmmy, MOMMY…
It’s probably the hundredth time they have done it today.
that moment when you ask your teen what is going on and they respond with:
Maybe it’s been weeks or months or years since you’ve had a meaningful conversation with them.
So what is happening? Screaming child. Silent teen.
Both want to be heard. And both have been stifled.
I recently asked one of my 21-year-old clients what this looked like for her when she was growing up. She said it became a mask of anger. Anger that began when she was told to stop being dramatic, to stop feeling what she was feeling, to, in essence, stop expressing what was going on inside of her.
So why do we as parents do it?
I propose it’s to make us comfortable. Seeking to understand why my toddler or child is screaming at me or why my teen is being silent probably means there is something uncomfortable for both of us to face and feel.
What is the solution?
Seek to understand the screaming toddler, the sullen child, the quiet teen.
Look into their eyes. Seek to understand them. Show them you care about what they are facing. Help them to feel and express it. Allow them to talk about it. Avoid the temptation to quiet them down or to ignore the quiet teen…or point out the “silver lining.”
Be with them in the moment. Teach them that their emotions and thoughts are their teachers, not their enemies.