Taking the Brunt of a Child’s Anger… And Still Finding Connection

Taking the Brunt of a Child's Anger ~ Peaceful parents, Confident Kids

When I arrived home from work the other day, I was greeted with the sounds of children in distress and a husband at the end of his tether. It had been a long, sick week for the family and being the only healthy body in the house, my husband had been on night wake-up and child minding duty all week.

As he began reluctantly to make his way towards his screaming youngest child, I told him to stop, sit down, relax, have a drink; I would get this. I was feeling good. I missed spending time with my girls and this was my opportunity to reconnect with them.

I walked into the bedroom and found my youngest sitting on the floor, trying to get her clothes off and my eldest, also half undressed, beside her. Both were upset but it was my youngest who was particularly so. I greeted both of them and acknowledged that they seemed upset. My eldest came straight to me and wrapped her arms around me but my youngest screamed with venom ‘I want Daddy! I don’t want you! Go away!’

It was like a stab in the heart with a knife. What did she mean she didn’t want me? I’m her Mum, of course she wants me. Right? Well, right, but not just at that moment. At that moment she wanted me to hear something that is hard to hear but it was important to her that I hear it.

As I listened to her angry shouts, I came to realise…

I had been distant from her as I struggled in bed with the flu. I hadn’t changed her nappy in over a week. I hadn’t gone to her in the night when she woke crying. I hadn’t even been putting her food on the table. Her father had taken on all these roles and more whilst I looked after me.

My little one didn’t like it, she was mad at me and was making that clear.

I needed her to know that it was ok to be mad, I understood and my love for her remained unwavering.

I acknowledged her feelings “You are having REALLY strong feelings. (Pause) You are mad and want me to go away. (Pause) I’ll move back here a little to give you some space. (Pause) I want you to know I love you and want to help you. (Stop and wait for her to indicate she is ready to connect). I sat on the floor of her room for about half an hour. We said nothing. If I tried to, she would scream at me in anger.

Eventually, she began playing with her doll. She didn’t look at me or acknowledge my presence but I knew she knew I was there because she was deliberately keeping her eyes averted. After about five minutes, she brought her doll to me and placed her in my lap. She still didn’t look at me so I gave her a little more time. Two minutes later she removed the doll from my lap and sat herself in her doll’s position. I tenderly wrapped my arms around her and held her.

We reconnected and she was able to see that no matter how much she yells at me, no matter how much anger she has bubbling up inside, I will be her rock.

Nothing will shake my love for her even when I can’t be there to take care of her.

That night when I kissed her as I tucked her into her bed I spoke with her gently. “You know, Penny, I love you even when you tell me to go away. I love you even when you are angry with me. I will always love you and nothing will ever change that.” She gripped my neck as we cuddled and did not want to let go. I sat with her on her bed and drew circles on the palm of her hand as she fell asleep.

She no longer wanted me to go away.

You might also enjoy reading:

Toddler Tantrum Therapy ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

Go Away, Mama! ~ Janet Lansbury (Elevating Childcare)

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About Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

Hi, my name is Kate. I have been a Physical Education/ Maths teacher for 12 years and am currently taking some time out to be a Mum. I have two beautiful girls aged 2 and 1 (13 month age gap). I have learned that there is so much more to parenting than 'going with your instincts' and treasure all the rewards my children present to me everyday. I have a passion for sports and have recently discovered an addiction to sewing. Thank you for taking some time out to read my ramblings :)
This entry was posted in Expressing Emotion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Taking the Brunt of a Child’s Anger… And Still Finding Connection

  1. Thank you. I love this. Those big feelings are so hard to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful post, Kate! My 4yo has been super clingy and crying all the time – it took a full meltdown for me to realise he just wanted me to engage rather that running around on autopilot as I have been during a super-busy week. All it took was a few rounds of a card game and a bike ride and he was back to his cheerful self. They’re such incredible creatures and have so much to teach us about tuning into our emotions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that, Jo! You are so right about them being in tune with their emotions. I love that at that age, they are still free to express all kinds of emotions to us and I can only hope that they still feel safe enough to express their inner feelings as they grow.
      Thank you for your comment!

      Like

  3. what a beautiful moment! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. meetoo says:

    Sometimes I think those words are either said because they know the other parent isn’t available and they are angry at them for that – or they know it hurts the present and they want a reaction. I know I shouldn’t take it personally but I totally understand the stab to the heart feeling!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think you’re right, Meetoo. Often it is them testing us out to see what our reaction will be and whether we still love them if they bare their feelings in this way. It is hard not to take it personally but I like to think that these off-the-cuff comments that fly out in heated moments are not well thought-out or considered. Our kids don’t think like this all the time so we can assume they are just speaking these words out of a lack of being able to articulate what is truly bothering them.
      Thank you for commenting.

      Like

  5. Oh that gave me tears Kate. It’s so easy to feel frustrated and hurt in those situations when all they need is to express their feelings and know that you can handle them. Love this, sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Penny says:

    How beautiful was that ending to the night. I loved reading that. A lovely reminder to watch our words and tell them we love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. happywhimsicalhearts says:

    Beautiful Kate, and you have such patience! I love reading about the wonderful connection you have fostered with your girls.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. racheous says:

    Such a sweet post and something I truly believe and try my hardest to do too!

    Like

  9. emmax2 says:

    Reblogged this on TIAAA! and commented:
    What do you do in the face of a child’s upset or anger? Kate Russell describes a beautiful way to respond. Acceptance, presence, patience, connection, love.
    I love this alternative approach.

    Like

  10. Catherine says:

    Love this post so much! Beautiful!!

    Like

  11. This is such a wonderful post! Showing kids that negative emotions are natural and not scary is SO important.

    Like

  12. Beautifully written, wonderful mama x

    Like

  13. Ms. S says:

    Once again, your openness about the realities of parenting make the road less lonely as we Moms journey this life with littles. I appreciate you sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

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