After that last crazy week of V having her 4-yr-old tantrums, we were working on practicing to take deep breaths when we sense ourselves getting angry. She’s definitely been practicing this and adding it to her bag of skills.
Fast forward to this week:
My husband and I got into a little “exchange” the other day. Unfortunately, it just so took place in front of the kids. We rarely get so heated that it is full on yelling or anything – but – the tone is definitely different. Let alone, my daughter is old enough (and has experienced that tone at her enough) to know when her daddy is angry. Before I even thought about how escalated it might have started to get as my husband and I were 3 feet apart from each other in this exchange – my daughter comes up to me, puts her face right in front of mine, hands on both sides of my arms and says “Ok, you need to take a deep breath.”
Whoa. I stopped dead in my tracks there. She caught me. And I had to set a good example of course! So I complied and did the deep breaths, then thanked her for reminding me. She then told me to say sorry to him… and again, I complied to show her that it was the right thing to do. At that point, my husband and I just looked at each other and that was the end of that exchange.
Ultimately, whatever we were getting worked up about, didn’t necessarily need to take place in front of the kids. Again, even though it wasn’t really high level yelling or anything close to that, my daughter caught on quick. I’m glad she knew what tools to pull from, and perhaps it was a good learning moment for all of us. She can see that her parents are human, we get angry about things too, and yes… we too, can take deep breaths to regroup ourselves.
Found a good article on Protecting Children from the Impact of Marital Strife that says:
Don’t All Couples Fight?
Yes, in fact if a child never sees any discord or disagreement, they are living in an unrealistic environment with no role models to regulate a broad range of emotions. The answer is regulation of anger that makes its’ expression compatible with a safe and loving environment.
• It is not about whether you fight it is about how you fight and how often.
• It is about making it safe to be angry and safe to make mistakes.
• It is about regulating anger so that it does not destroy love.
• It is about the capacity to agree to disagree.
• It is about the courage to apologize, forgive and recover.
• It is about knowing that anything you say or do to the parent of a child – good or bad – you do to that child.