My husband just came back from travelling, and I feel like throwing a tantrum.
“In its pure form, anger is a passionate face of love. It is the way we burst forth and insist on being seen, heard, and understood. It is the force with which we seek to heal a rift, a disconnection that we feel from each other.” – Robin Grille
2018 was a year when my husband was travelling a LOT for work. Overall, he was at home with us for about four months out of that whole year. It was tough, to say the least.
I realised one evening, soon after he came back from a long trip, that I wanted to scream at him… for no particular reason.
I felt like picking a fight with him, to shake him, even hit him! To shout and yell!
Those were all very real feelings bursting inside of me, and it was not the first time I’d experienced these feelings.
I managed to contain myself and refrain from acting on these strong impulses though. Instead, I became curious about what I was feeling.
I remember sitting on the couch in my living room, examining my feelings and having what felt like an important realisation: My anger was driven by feelings of disconnection and the desperate need to feel more connected with my husband.
This was such a huge lightbulb moment for me, not only was it helpful to understand where this all was coming from on a personal level it was also hugely helpful to me as a parent.
Because all of a sudden I could so clearly see how my child would feel the impulsive need test boundaries, throw a tantrum or get stuck in “offtrack behaviour” mode. Sometimes they need to test our relationship too, to see where they stand with us or get a reaction from us, hoping to feel more connection when they might be feeling disconnected.
It made so much sense to me; I could feel it within my own body. The built up tension, the fear and insecurity and the raging anger that was being driven by all that.
Children will feel insecure and more disconnected if:
- There are major changes in their lives.
- The family is moving house.
- Mommy or daddy have been working more than usual.
- There is a new baby in the house.
- Frustration and tension have been running high in the house for some reason (overtired parent maybe), and yelling and shaming have been going on.
- Mommy/daddy have been distracted, stressed, or busy.
- They are changing schools.
- They’ve experienced a long day at school.
Perspective is everything on my quest to responding gracefully to my children’s off track behaviours. It helps me so much when I’m able to put myself in their shoes.
Feeling like “throwing a tantrum” myself and recognising the underlying, unmet need driving it was such a valuable experience for me and now it’s something I will try to keep in mind every time my kids seem to be having a hard time!