When your older child’s emotions melt down
What do you do when your older child’s emotions seem to melt down before your very eyes for seemingly ridiculous reasons? And you, as the parent, aren’t the best at communicating, either? Here is our story about how finding one little tool has helped us navigate these big emotions with respect and openness.
Losing control of emotions
‘Here we go again,’ I thought, dismally. My newly turned 9-year-old had a complete and utter meltdown right in front of me. Scrunched up hands, tears of frustration, a screwed up face going beetroot red and an unnerving agonised wail.
It was something to do with an action (an extremely minuscule one) of her little sister. Poppy felt I hadn’t dolled out nearly enough punishment in response.
I was aware that this tantrum went a little more deep than the event in question, but I had absolutely no idea how to approach the issue – especially in the face of such raw disintegration of emotions.
A mother’s helplessness
I felt so helpless and more than a bit scared – she seemed so out of control of her emotions, so unusual for my normally level-headed girl.
She eventually calmed down and I asked her a few questions but the answers were pretty unrevealing.
We cuddled, but the cuddle was tinged with sadness, and my unfulfilled yearning to reach out and connect when Poppy most needed it.
I spent the evening thinking — mainly about what a crap mum I was. My daughter was growing up and becoming a wonderful, passionate young lady, full of emotions. But me, her own mother and guardian in life, couldn’t help her deal with the onslaught of all those new, unhinged and scary emotions.
If I couldn’t help her now, where would we both be in six years time? But in the midst of all this self-bashing a little seed of an idea crept into my mind.
A little book with huge results
We both find it hard to express ourselves verbally right now, but we love to read and write. We both keep a journal.
Perhaps, just perhaps, I could find a way for us to connect with the very thing we are both good at.
I scoured the internet. Amazingly, I found a book that had been created for this precise reason. It even came with prompts for when we got stuck and ideas to inspire us to write about other stuff too.
It has worked brilliantly. The book is just between us, just as its name suggests. We only write inside it when we need to and nobody else can read what we write. I keep it in my ‘secret drawer’ in my bedroom where only Poppy can go if she needs the book.
We plant it under each other’s pillows when we have written. We must always write a reply without guilt, fear or retribution. A safe place for opening up about scary emotions.
Poppy has revealed so many thoughts that I would never have heard otherwise. And the written conversation even seems to have opened up our verbal communication. We are both happier for it.
And thankfully, we have had no more meltdowns. For now.