Posted in family life

little problems, big feelings

We had some frustrations, today, as we went about our normal adventures.

Someone was upset to the point of tears because the cars in the lane next to us were moving and we weren’t and this child didn’t understand why (they had a left turn arrow…).

Someone broke down because their brother finished the bag of goldfish, even though they’d been able to eat an equal amount.

Someone sobbed and wailed in the grocery store because they were thirsty but didn’t want to drink from the water fountain.

Someone screamed and threatened because their brother put in the puzzle piece they wanted to do (make that two someones…)

Someone ran across the playground hiding their face in their hands because I wouldn’t let them push another kid off of the equipment they wanted to use.

Honestly, most of these moments involved fairly trivial triggers, at least from my perspective. It’s been a long time since forgetting a cup for my water and having to use a fountain instead brought me to tears… But for my children, these “little” things have a big impact. Something in their world isn’t functioning the way they expect or want it to, and it throws everything off kilter emotionally.

And when it does, I have the incredible privilege of being able to support and comfort them without being pulled underwater by my own equally strong emotions, since the things that bother them no longer affect me in that way. I can be the pillar of strength and the promise of unconditional love in those moments when they are falling apart, using those struggles as an opportunity to connect with them and deepen our relationship, instead of mocking or shaming them for “overreacting” to something so small. All I have to do is remember how vastly different their perspective is from mine, how much less experience they have to understand the world around them, and how little control and independence they have in their lives, and respond to them accordingly.

2 thoughts on “little problems, big feelings

  1. I have to think about this working with high schoolers, too! Things that are so important to them and affect them in huge ways seem trivial to me, but I have to be very careful to honor how they feel about it and not laugh at them or put them down for caring about what they care about. In each developmental stage certain things are going to feel all consuming to us that might seem meaningless to those in different stages of life.

    1. That’s a good point! And I suppose a corollary is that people will also find happiness in different types of things depending on where they are developmentally – it’s not just the worries and struggles that shift over time.

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