Stillness In the Face of a Child’s Tantrum

Michael McAlister Blog Leave a Comment

I recently received this in a wonderful letter from one of our virtual sangha members in Germany. It’s a beautiful reminder of how this practice can have profound effects on our families:

Kids develop in phases and each jump to the next level
seems to bring with it both a regression in behavior as well as deep
insecurity shown as uncontainable anger and frustration. As a parent, I find
it very hard to deal with, especially if the phase takes time. Of course
this is nothing compared to real parenting trouble, but a 5 and a half year
old child that is sent into a tantrum over minute digressions from the
24-hour-Club-Med routine she is getting is tough. But tough for whom? Tough
for my ego since my daughter needs to be perfect? Tough for her since she
obviously suffers so much under her own state? Or is it an opening?
Incident after incident I seemed to handle it wrong and say or do the wrong
things. Finally, at the end of my rope last week, I just “sat” with her
anger. I told her I am just going to sit still near her and when she needs
me I am there, with my full compassion. Instead of the usual spiral effect,
after 3 minutes she stopped kicking and screaming and collapsed into a
puddle of tears in my lap. We just sat there for another 20 minutes, holding
each other in silence. There was nothing I could teach her in that moment
that would have helped. No words made sense, just presence. Later on, we
even had a quiet talk about the whole thing.

May we all hold each other in silence.

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