My 6-year-old daughter was trying to do something called finger knitting, a way of looping yarn over your finger to create a long braided strand. But she kept having trouble with it and, in a burst of frustration, she kicked her 2-year-old sister who was sitting nearby.
I moved in and held my older daughter, saying, “You wanted that to work, and it was very tricky, and it didn’t come out the way you wanted it to.” She grunted and flailed wildly.
I said gently, “I can’t let you kick anyone. Everyone stays safe in our house. I’ll stay with you while you’re feeling yucky until you feel better, and also after you feel better, if you want.” She flailed and grunted some more and managed to crawl away from me, then grunted again in a way that suggested she wanted continued attention. I went and held her a bit more.
Then all of a sudden she announced brightly, “I have an idea! I lie on you, and Julia gets on top of my back!” Then all together we had a really fun game of rolling around pretending we were a toppling block tower, with everyone connecting and laughing and my older daughter being solicitous of her sister, making sure she didn’t get crushed when we all tumbled down.
This helped me gain confidence in the notion that if I supportively stayed with my daughter while she struggled with negative emotions, she would come out to the other side of them, so to speak, and even come up with her own good idea for how to switch gears—all without parental scolding, lecturing, distracting, or advising. Pretty cool.
– a mom in California