Listening to Angry Feelings

My daughter is two and a half years old and she enjoys changing her clothes many times a day. Needless to say this can be a little stressful after she has changed them 5 times in one day!

On this particular day, after the third change, I calmly told her she could not change her clothes again. She immediately got very upset and began crying and screaming at me. I moved closer to her and she began to scream at me to go away. She was furious and did not want me near her. I felt very calm for a change, and I quietly told her that I was going to stay there. I sat on the floor about 4 feet from where she was. She cried and screamed at me to go away and I simply said, “I’m just going to stay here and make sure you are safe and that you are not alone.” I said I wouldn’t come any closer to her but I was going to stay.

My daughter continued to cry hard and scream at me for what seemed like a very long time. I think it was at least a good 30 minutes although it felt like a lot longer than that. At moments I felt very hurt that she did not want me and I started to feel upset myself. Then she slowly began to move closer to me in a very quiet way.

She continued to cry and scream at me but she gradually moved closer and closer to me until she was in my lap. I just held her and she stopped crying. We were very close and cuddled with each other. At that point she was clearly in love with me and I was in love with her. I cannot say what all her anger was about. Other than setting a limit on her changing her clothes, I was confused as to what might have caused all those feelings. However, she got to have her feelings and she got to have her say about coming closer to me. She felt really safe and that it was O.K. to have big angry feelings because I was right there. Clearly the end result was a happy child and a closeness between us that was precious.

– a Parenting by Connection mom

2 thoughts on “Listening to Angry Feelings

  1. We have been in a similar situations with my daughter, and usually we do not have 30 minutes to sit until she can calm down. On a typical weekday morning we have to get her out of the house to preschool by 8:30 so we can get to work. Any thoughts ?

  2. Mornings can be tricky! It’s hard to stop and listen to upset feelings when the clock is ticking. (For me, this is the most difficult time to offer listening, my buttons really get pushed!)

    However, the wonderful thing I have found about using these listening tools is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can go with whatever time and resources you have in the moment even if it’s listening for just 5 minutes before getting in the car or offering to listen after school.

    Try offering listening time to your daughter when she presents opportunities in the evening or on the weekend. Find what works for you. Bit by bit, the listening you offer your daughter will help. And, don’t forget to find a good listener for yourself too! It’s hard work parenting, and especially listening to all the difficult feelings our children show us. It inevitably pulls up our own stuff too.

    Hope that helps!

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