When Words Don’t Get Through….
Your hand touches her shoulder and you can feel the reaction. First a stiffening, and then a relaxation. Just hang in there.
The largest organ in your body is covered with touch receptors designed to feed information to the brain about what is going on around you. Those touch receptors are so intune, they can actually recognize the emotion in someone’s touch.
Touch somebody gently, lovingly or caringly and BOOM! a chemical reactionin the brain is set off and it can actually interrupt whatever was going on in that mind before the touch. And let’s face it, sometimes, a situation needs to be interrupted.
In our house, the power of a hug is now widely accepted but it wasn’t always that way.
Enter this scene:
My seven year old and I stand squared off in the kitchen. She’s just used some really mean words with her big sister that are unacceptable in our house. I’ve called her out on it and she lashes out at me.
“You don’t know what I go through at school. You don’t know what my sisters do to me. You don’t care, you don’t care about me. I hate you.”
The words are thrown at me with such aggression it really hurts my heart. My first reaction is to yell back, but I’ve played that game before and it just gets louder. But it’s not okay to yell at me, ever. You don’t yell at your mom. My own ego rises up inside and I am getting angry at the disrespect. But I see where these words are coming from and she isn’t going to be able to back down. She’s hurting inside and she doesn’t know what to do with it.
Instead, I wrap my arms around her angry, tense body as she wiggles to be free, hanging on to the anger with everything she has. I gently hold her in my arms, knowing that it’s her ego trying to hang on to the anger, but I know that her heart really needs a hug. After a few short seconds, her heart winsover and she melts in to me. The tears stream down her face and the words start pouring out of her mouth.
She’s had a tough day at school and two kids were being mean to her.
After she lets out her pain, we can start to talk about the pain that she created for her sister. We’ve got a rule in our house – there are enough people out in the world that share their pain with others in mean and hurtful ways, that we don’t need to add to it, and we definitely don’t need to add more pain to our own family. She accepts her consequences without a fight and is even eager to go make it right with her sister. She can recognize that unsettling feeling when you’ve done something wrong and she wants to get rid of it.
This is the story of the heart fighting the ego.
The ego says – NO! She deserved it! Everyone deserves it! You were right to do what you did. Let’s get angry at the injustice!
The heart says – That’s not who you are, that doesn’t feel good.
And sometimes that ego gets pretty loud. So the next time your daughter is caught in her own battle with her ego, try physical contact to bring her back to you.
Contact is the First C of my Three Part series – I hope it gives you some ideas to navigate challenges in the home. Next up – Communication – but not boring communication – more about chatter and how it helps manage stress.
If you missed it – you can catch the 4-minute segment I did on CTV Live Morning show here.
And we still have 12 spots left in the Mother-Daughter Workshop where we’ll practice some of these ideas and share with each other.
Register at: www.GirlsChangingtheWorld.com
Tracy Thibodeau, CCP
P.S. If you’ve already registered for the mother-daughter workshop, watch for an email with all the details the week before the event.