The ‘H’ word – managing my emotional buttons when it comes to Miss 3
So at the moment the ‘H’ word (hate) is almost as prominent in my daughter’s vocabulary as “mum”, “look”, and “why?”, and anyone who has a three year old would know that that must be close to 2,863 times per day (well it feels like that anyway). This word has this magical way of just not pushing my buttons, but smashing them!
Part of this is because my mum never let us use this word when we were kids (all our buttons have some programming that was done in childhood) but also because she says it about everything, even things she actually loves, even things that completely contradict each other:
Me: “Do you want to go for a swim?”
Miss 3: “I hate swimming”
Me: “ok we won’t go swimming then”
Miss 3: “I hate not going swimming”
All I want to point out how she isn’t making any sense, or throw my hands in the air and tell her she is impossible to please, or tell her how since she hates everything there is no point in trying to do anything with her. But as my training has taught me, I know this won’t be useful, because by the time she has reached the ‘hate’ stage, any use of her already extremely underdeveloped front brain has been hijacked by her big emotions. <The front brain plays a role in thinking rationally, planning, decision making, predicting and evaluating consequences, emotion-regulation, memory and much more>
So the only helpful response at this stage is to validate that she is having a difficult time. This will help her regulate her emotions, so she can regain control of all of her brain.
And while some days I can do that no worries, other days, when I’m tired, or have too much going on, that darn 4 letter word just gets me. So I decided I needed a new strategy for managing this. I know that language is extremely powerful over us but only if we allow it. If we can see it for what it actually is – just sounds, bits of noise – it no longer has the history and meaning attached to it and no longer pushes us around.
So how can I take the power out of the ‘H’ word? Here are a couple of options
- Repetition – Say the word over and over out loud as fast as you can for 30secs. Now the words is just a weird sound and some funny vibrations on your lips and tongue
- Think of a funny word to replace it with in your head – Every time Miss 3 says “I hate sandwiches” I hear “I’m swashbuckling sandwiches” etc
- Think ‘haters gunna hate” and bust out to taylor swift in your head – dancing and any kind of physical exercise is great for dealing with negative emotions :-D
So if your kids are currently saying anything that’s driving you bananas, give these strategies a go and let me know how they went for you.