How to help your child deal with anger: one mum’s inspiring example

Would you, could you, react like this mum if your child got mad and smashed a mirror to smithereens? Be honest, now...

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US mogger (mum + blogger = mogger, right?) Majestic Unicorn has won the praise of many a mum recently with her moving blog post about how she dealt with her son when he got so angry that he slammed shut the bathroom door, and made a huge, heavy mirror fall off its wall hinges, sending shards of smashed mirror scattering all over the floor in a clanging crash of mess, imminent danger and all-round horrendousness.

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Your basic nightmare, really.

But Majestic Unicorn reacts to this child-provoked disaster in a way that is so highly commendable – if not a little, shall we say, beyond most of us mere mortal mums – it left us a little bit speechless. (Which is no mean feat here at MFM HQ!)

Yep, instead of moving straight from surprise to shock to yelling, as we probably all would…

“I was quiet,” Majestic Unicorn writes. “I surveyed the damage and took a deep breath. Put the dog outside so he wouldn’t cut his feet, put the cat in the basement for the same reason.

“I walked into the backyard and felt the hot tears streaming down my face. It’s amazing how alone you can feel as a single parent in moments like these. I realised how scared and disappointed I felt. Did this really just happen? Yes.  This was real.

“And as I stood and considered whether or not this was an indication of his developing character, I heard his tears through the window above me, coming from inside the bathroom.

“His soul hurt. This was not what he expected either. Hello, Anger. I don’t remember inviting you into my house.”

(We think that’s what Majestic Unicorn imagines saying to the storm going on in her son’s head – not what she actually heard him say. We think.)

She goes on to say to herself – and this is where it all gets a bit Californian but bear with us: “Deep breath, #MamaWarrior. Deep breath. That small, fragile soul needs you right now. He needs your very best. Your biggest compassion. Your most gentle and firm mama love and reassurance. More deep breaths. Go Mama. 

“Go. Go now. Go open the front door, tiptoe through the broken glass, hear him hearing you coming, watch the bathroom door crack open, see the face you love most in the world red with worry and wet with tears, his voice is suddenly so small: ‘Mama, I’ll never do it again, I am SO sorry.’

“More tears. More weeping.  Such uncertainty on his sweet face.

“Go Mama. Get him. Go now. Scoop him into your lap. Yup, you’re crying too. Damn this was big. Hold him tight. Watch how he curls into a ball in your arms so quickly. See how eager he is to be loved by you. To be reassured by you. See how small he still is. See how fragile that spirit is.”

Did you well up a bit reading that? We did. Because she’s right, of course: who hasn’t looked at their child, scared to pieces already by the enormity of the bad thing they know they’ve done, and felt like a monster for getting so angry at them. We realise, too late, that what our child needs is a hug and some reassurance, not 10 minutes of yelling.

But while we all hope that, when faced with a situation like this in our own home, we’d stay as cool and calm at Majestic Unicorn, we know that, really, in the heat of the moment, we’d probably lose not only our temper, even the overall plot.

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Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. Fractious, exhausted and desperate for a break (us, that is, not the kids), we all do and say questionable things from time to time when our children test our limits.

But Majestic Unicorn speaks (admittedly slightly hippy-dippy) sense when she says: “Sometimes things break. Sometimes we break them. It’s not the breaking that matters, the how or why.

“What matters is how we choose to respond to the broken-ness. Does it kill us? Does it throw us into a downward spiral of blame and punishment?  

“OR does it help us remember how to love deepest? Does it push us towards compassion and over the hurdle of ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ into LOVENESS?

“Yes. LOVENESS.

“Go Mama. Go now. Get that baby of yours. Teach that. Show that. Live that. It’s called LOVENESS. Go. Now.”

Ok, Ok, we get the message! And we know that, behind the therapy-speak phrases, she’s absolutely right, of course.

And we all wish we could react so calmly, and with such understanding of our own child, when faced with catastrophes of the kid kind.

Just a quick convo in the MFM office reveals that many of us have fallen WELL short on this one.

But what about you? How good are you at keeping your own temper in the face of your child’s meltdowns (usually in the supermarket or some other equally hideous public place)? Please let us know in the comments below…  

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