One Mama Realizes: My Child's Feelings Are About Her, Not Me

emotional intelligence  member highlight  positive parenting 

By Ashley Patek

What Can I Do Activity Mat and feeling cards

I had done everything right, and yet my nine-year-old daughter was having her version of a tantrum. I started to spiral and wonder what the actual point of keeping my calm and trying my best was if I still received push-back and found myself breaking up sibling fights. 

My daughter was not talking to me after an incident where a family rule was broken about watching TV. Instead of reacting, which is what I wanted to do, I found my center and calmly reminded her about the family rule. 

Upset, she ran to the top of the stairs and into her room, closing me out. I played the events in my head, trying to understand how I could have handled it better, and honestly, I thought I had done pretty well in lovingly holding to a loving limit. As I was beating myself up, a thought passed through my mind. What if her reaction wasn’t about me and how I handled the situation, but rather about her internal experience? 

A little voice said to me, “Maybe she is ashamed that she broke a rule and doesn’t know how to handle that within herself.” I thought back to when she was younger - how used to write me these little notes to share her feelings. To this day, she still seems to prefer writing how she feels rather than speaking them aloud. This prompted me to bring her Generation Mindful’s What Can I Do Activity Mat and feeling cards, and the Mistakes Help Me Learn And Grow worksheet. 

Putting my hurt aside, I explained that I understood her need for space, and I invited her to explore her feelings as I placed the tools on her bedroom dresser. And then I gave her time and patiently waited. 

After about twenty minutes, my daughter found me in our kitchen and handed me the completed sheets, which revealed feelings of anger, foolishness, and upset. This process helped me realize what my daughter really wanted from me. She wanted hugs. Throughout the rest of the day, she asked for and received many, many hugs. And each time I hugged her, I knew I was helping to repair the hurt of having broken a rule earlier in the day. 

My daughter has always been the type to feel mistakes so keenly, no matter how gently I handle them. What I saw today was not a girl who did bad, but one who felt real feelings, who took the time to process them, and then communicated her need - the need to feel extra love in the face of making a mistake. 

My love for my children is like the sun, forever flowing, never running out. I know a powerful truth: that my children are love, and my love will always be there to meet them, no matter what. 

** This member has permitted GENM to write and share her story. Bethany S. is a mama to four children. She has been using the Time-In ToolKit, SnuggleBuddies, and the What Can I Do Activity Mat since 2018. “We have lots of emotions flowing through our house, and these tools have helped immensely!”

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