The most likely time for a meltdown is at the end – the end of a play date, a TV programme, a game, an outing. Of course tiredness plays a part, but I think that there’s something about the ‘finishing’ itself that triggers very unpleasant feelings. They’re about letting go, grieving, and accepting something we don’t want to accept. Being able to handle these feelings is a defining trait of a resilient child.
What are your finishing habits?
There is a lot we can do to help kids develop this skill, even if we still struggle with it ourselves. As always, pay some attention to the example you’re setting. What are your finishing habits? Are you able to terminate a commitment when it becomes a burden, or will you battle on resentfully because you find it difficult to bow out? If you’re forced to let someone down, will you take the less confrontational option of a text or email over a conversation? Do you find it hard to pass up seconds (and maybe thirds) of your favourite foods? Your kids will be well aware when you are reluctant to carry out a confident and well-timed ending.
Teach them how a good finisher thinks
Together practise some phrases that can be used to reassure when things are tough, such as, “Sometimes the right thing feels hard to do”, “When one door closes another one opens”, “I can’t have that now, but that doesn’t mean never”, or, “You can’t always make everyone happy.”
Provide plenty of opportunities to practise good endings
Insist that they say a polite goodbye when you’re out visiting (even when they don’t want to leave), and that the de-throned champion of the board game has to congratulate the winner. It shouldn’t be hard to find practice material.
The average child’s day is bursting with potential disappointments small and large, but when you start examining your response to these you might be surprised how many never even reach your child’s radar due to your determined efforts to reduce their suffering. But any muscle that’s to grow stronger needs to have a little weight on it. It might sound obvious but the only way for kids to learn to bounce back is for them to occasionally be dropped (metaphorically only, please!). The safest place for this to happen is at home, while they are small, surrounded by family who love and care for them enough to let them suffer a little and survive. Who else can we expect to do it?
Book a session with a Family Coach
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