Navigating Big Feelings


Age 6 has been so heavenly, and I’ve got quite the precocious one at that, that until this past week, I nearly forgot all the days of yesteryear when my sweet pickle was a bonafide, tantrum-throwing, meltdown queen (that I wouldn’t have traded for the world, even then).

But this past week she’s been a bit puddly and reminded me of those oh-so challenging days. 

Yesterday, I picked her up from school and before 4pm she’d had two meltdowns. I was a bit aghast because this is not the lovely lady I have come to know in recent months. 

A friend asked how I handle tantrums and meltdowns and it reminded me that “oh yeah, I have human children who lose their cookies, even when they’re 6.”

But how do I handle them?

The same way I’d hope my husband or friends would handle mine. 

Sure I don’t scream or cry or lay on the floor like a limp noodle, but goodness knows I have days that I’d like to. But I still have great big feelings, and either I keep them in or let them leak out in the most inopportune times; it just always works that way. 

If people ignored my big feelings I’d be livid. How dare the people who claim to love me act as if I’m not valuable when my feelings are too big and scary for me to handle? If they only love me when I’m happy…do they really love me? That’s pretty conditional. 

And if they screamed at me or told me to suck it up or in some other way expected me to pretend my feelings didn’t exist? Yeah…that wouldn’t fly either.

I don’t particularly enjoy listening to my kids cry or scream, most especially when it’s over something that seems absolutely trivial or obsolete to me. I have to muster a lot of patience. 

But I also know that my end goal –  well-rounded, emotionally-intelligent, mentally-healthy hardworking adults who can maintain healthy relationships – can not be met by ignoring them or shutting them down. I have to put in the hard work now. Even if it takes a while to see the pay off (and I do now, oh how I do!).

So what do I do?

I sit.

I listen.

I wait it out.

I tell my kiddos I’m there. I hear them. I’m not leaving. I’m ready to work out those big feelings when they are.

Sometimes they squirrel away from me. Sometimes they lay in my lap.

I stay near, but I let them call the shots for what they’re comfortable with.

It is exhausting. Sometimea it is terribly repetitive. Maybe it seems like I’m “giving in.” I am okay with that.

We embrace those big feelings and we run with them. We use those moments to learn coping skills. To mend ourselves.

So although age 6 has been heavenly, it has not been without its big, trying feelings. And that is okay. 6 year olds are human, too.

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