Stupid F*(&#! Pillow!

My daughter, who is 7, had trouble separating at bedtime, and went through a period of crying every bedtime, without relief or change, when she wasn’t allowed to sleep in my bed. I let her cry each time, hoping it was doing some good, but it was always the same. One night, however, she was very mad and started punching and kicking me. I had just watched a Hand in Hand video on working with aggression, so I felt more clear about what to do. I met her aggression with warmth. I kissed her hands when she punched, deflected her kicks, and told her that I saw how angry she was.

After a good long while, she lay on the bed and told me about something that happened at gym that day. They did a parachute game, which she had never done before. It was familiar to all the other children at her new school, but she was confused about what to do, and felt scared when she was under the parachute. She said everyone loved the game, but she hated it.

She seemed to want to kick some more, so I encouraged her to kick a pillow I held and pretend it was the parachute. She did and she loved kicking it. She then turned to punching it down with a karate chop, over and over again. She then threw it back over her head and down the hall repeatedly, calling it a “Stupid, f___ f___ pillow!” “F___” is a word she has been a bit fascinated with, and it holds a lot of power for her. She also threw it down the stairs and said she hoped it hurt. I thought it would go on forever, but I let her keep going because she seemed to be getting so much out of it.

After a while longer, it was getting late for a school night bedtime, and I suggested she could do some more another time. She seemed satisfied with that, and went to bed without crying. She hasn’t cried since when she can’t sleep in my bed, though she still doesn’t like it, and it still holds some fear for her. The difference before and after this listening time is remarkable though, and I was surprised and happy that one listening time had such a big impact.

—Sandra Flear, Certified Parenting by Connection Instructor

Keiko Sato-PerryYou can join Sandra in her upcoming Building Emotional Understanding online class starting June 4. Learn more >

One thought on “Stupid F*(&#! Pillow!

  1. Wow, the way you handled that is so different than what we are used to. I believe it what you do and I really strive to be a parent that listens to my kids whether they are mad or happy. I am working on being more present with them especially during meltdowns. I do mess up a lot still, but I am trying to reprogram my brain to this type of thinking. I am curious though because most of us were not raised with parents that dealt with emotional outrages this way, most of us were disciplined. And I see how this allowed your daughter to open up about some deeper feelings she had, which I think is wonderful, but it is still hard for me to grasp that you let her swing or hit at you. Did you stop her and calmly tell her you will not allow her to hit you and then redirect her to the pillow? This is how I think I would do it, but I am curious what your thinking is behind the hitting. Thanks for these little stories. They really help. 🙂

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