I attended a workshop presented by Deborah MacNamara, called, “ Tears, Tantrums and Turmoil.” She discussed the basic idea of being with your child when they are sad or frustrated and allowing the child to register why they are feeling this emotion. For example, as parents, we say the word “no,” which children do not always agree with. “No, you cannot have a cookie right before dinner.” They ask questions such as, “Why can’t I?” We need to help the child move forward from this emotion and register why the parent is saying no. The child will be upset and feel angry or sad. Deborah MacNamara states that “a child should be moved to sadness by the experience of futility,” meaning that the child should be able to cry and move on, but register that the parent has said “no” for a reason.
She stated that children need to have tears because:
• there is so much that children need to learn to adapt to, especially when circumstances are less than ideal
• to find true rest from trying to change circumstances/ situations that cannot/ should not be changed
• to prevent becoming spoiled
• to develop resilience from things that are out of their control
• to be as adaptive as needed in school and other situations
• to learn from consequences
She also mentioned a few common childhood futilities, which include:
• holding on to good experiences
• making something work that doesn’t
• possessing mommy (or anyone else)
• sending the sibling back from where they came from
• being smarter than one is
• avoiding failure/ being perfect
• controlling circumstances
• turning back time or undoing what’s been done
• winning all the time
• being bigger than one is
• being best at everything
• being wanted where one isn’t
• getting one’s way all the time
• knowing what’s going to happen
• avoiding upset
I can relate to dealing with many of these futilities with my two boys, especially at winning and trying to be the best / first at everything! There are some battles that they clearly can handle on their own, and some situations in which they need help to move forward from their futilities for sure.
Children need at least one strong attachment to help them move through these futilities, according to Deborah. A really good example she used was when a child is not invited to a classmate’s birthday party. All the children know about it, but not everyone can be invited. Moving a child through those emotions can be difficult, but extremely necessary. Let your child know that they may not have been invited to the party, but they are always welcomed in their home. Accepting that is key…..
I just wanted to share some of the things discussed.
I’d love to hear any of your thoughts or comments…….