How do I repair after conflict with my child?
We all lose control occasionally. There have been times when I felt stressed and under supported and ended up raising my voice or using an unkind tone. Sometimes parenting can push us to those edges. I remember a time when a cup of orange juice was spilled over a meal I had taken time and care to prepare. Hungry and tired, I shouted my frustration. I used to feel terrible after these sorts of incidents and frightened that I had caused lasting damage to my child. I now see things differently. It is inevitable that life will contain regrettable moments. By doing effective repair, we can teach our children that relationships can recover when things go wrong and we are allowed to mess up and try again.
1. Regulate your own state.
It can be difficult to repair when we are still feeling angry, it is important to take some space to allow the stress cycle to complete. If it is safe to do so, leaving the room can be helpful so that you can release any remaining frustration and offer a bit of self compassion, take some long deep breaths, move your body or do whatever it takes to feel better.
2. Check in with your child
Do they have an immediate need which you need to take care of? Do they feel ready to talk to you or need some time to calm themselves? If they need more time you can calmly let them know you are there for them when they are ready.
3. Make amends
Ideally get on to their level, make eye contact, offer a calm and compassionate presence. Let your child know that you are aware that what you did wasn’t ok. Empathise with them. You might say something like, “it must have felt really scary when mummy shouted”. Appologise and express an intention to do better next time.
4. Let them express their feelings
Give your child a chance to be heard and validated. They may be feeling sad, scared or angry or they might be feeling fine and have moved on! Once they feel fully heard and soothed, move on to the next stage.
Ask your child if they are ready to forgive you. I like to use the ho’oponopono prayer: “I love you, I’m sorry, I forgive you, do you forgive me?”. This tends to be very effective as your child may be carrying a feeling that they caused your anger. Including forgiveness for them can therefore be very healing. It is important, also to forgive yourself. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, appreciate all of the many amazing things you do for your child big and small.
Find a way to reconnect, for example with a hug, and move on to another activity which you both enjoy to restore a feeling of harmony between you and your child.
If your anger is rising more frequently than you would like it could be a good time to seek support. I offer free consultations which you can book by clicking here.