Managing the Emotions

December 16, 2010, 0 Comments

About two weeks ago, my elder son, KB had the opportunity to learn to manage his sadness. He felt really sad that he was ill and was unable to drink milk. He had his bout of stomach flu and was recovering slowly.

In a fit of frustration and being (extremely) upset, he pulled off the entire blanket cover on our sofa and sent the whole pile of laundry, tumbling.

Here is the classic case of choosing between looking at the external (the mess) or the heart of a child (what motivates him to act the way he did). Although, at that point, I could see so crystal clearly why he reacted that way, I gave way to my feelings rather than my insight (Argh! folly of human weakness).

I chided him for the mess he created and how he should not take it out on the things, and how he should not throw things when he is upset like he did to his watch once.

And as soon as he burst into tears, I began to have compassion on him. I regained my composure, ready to set things right between us.

Nevertheless, he was expected to set the sofa cover straight back up, in between sobs. (Natural consequence) Over the head rest and straighten it down to the seats. Its a 3-seater sofa, so it is a feat itself to put it straight. I watched him put it up and the cover slid down many times, but he kept doing it. Up, and then down it came.

Then he would put the clothes back up, one by one. And without me saying a word, he would attempt to fold it and put it back. And each time the clothes would crumble in a lump.

Then I saw him take all the clothes back down again and this time, he folded one piece of clothes at a time and stack piece by piece. I was curious as I looked on and asked him why he did that. He told me “Because otherwise it would not be straight”. I was , well… quite impress with this attitude. Him taking initiative at doing his best, and coming up with various ways to make sure it was excellently done.

Later on, I would noticed that the side of the cover was not covered properly and asked him if he was going to do anything about it. And he said, “Ok, later, I will finish this job first and then do another one. I must do one job at a time”. I could hardly believe this was coming from a three-yr-old. Remembering that all these was being spoken in between sobs. What responsibility.

He was putting it right what he did wrong before (whether it was intentional or out of childishness). His excellent spirit in the midst of extreme negative emotions came through as something worth commenting. I mean, I felt ashamed that I was unable to control my emotions in the midst of a ‘negative” situation and it wasn’t in anyway extreme compared to a three-yr-old.

After he had fininshed all that he set out to do, he turned around and asked me for a hug, in which I gave, and the poor boy let out such a big cry.

What this boy had within him, was the capacity to with-hold emotions he is so incapable of understanding at that moment and do what is required of him. I was so proud of him that day. And what a day because it was at bedtime where mum’s defenses are the lowest.

That night, I apologised to him for losing my temper, as he showed me a more excellent way how it is possible to manage one’s emotions, before the emotions manged us.

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