This Is Us :: Emotionally Coping Without the Ice Cream

This is Us:: Emotionally Coping Without the Ice Cream | Houston Moms Blog

Guiding our children through emotional pain is no joke. Why didn’t my own mother tell me that in fact, when your child experiences emotional pain, you might as well be linked together like some mystical emotional beast? Because the agony, anger, and heartache they experience hurts you as a parent on such a deep level. Watching your child hurt is the actual worst.

When we see the tears fall or hear the sadness in their little voices, we need to fix it and fix it now. This need to immediately turn everything around can be damaging in the long run. This reality slapped me in the face as I had an ‘aha’ moment in the middle of an ice cream shop.

If you are an actual breathing living person, you have most likely watched This is Us. If not, stop reading immediately. Fix it. Binge watch all of it and experience the awesomeness you have been missing. Come back and fully appreciate the references soon to be made. Back on track.

“I Hate You” Hurts at any Age

For those of you who know the power of the Pearson family join me as I relive how I totally pulled a Jack and Kate on my daughter. Before I even fully approached my daughter at after school pick up I could see something was wrong. Her head was down and she looked upset. She locked eyes with with me and the moment she did the tears started rolling down her cheeks. As I approached, the words started barreling out of her mouth a million miles an hour. “Mommy, they said they hate me. They keep running away from me and ignoring me.” Her words hit me like a freight train. My daughter is in Kindergarten and I had never heard her use the word hate let alone assume she knew what it meant. {I still don’t think she knows the true meaning, but the ugliness used when saying it was all she needed to comprehend the intent}.  We made our way to the van and she just sobbed in my arms. She kept asking me, “Why would they do this to me?”

My Mommy wonder genes activated and I needed to know all the details and to make it better. At first I was heartbroken. Next that fierce Mama bear showed up and I was angry at the other girls and the situation {If you haven’t been irrationally mad at someone else’s child, just wait, it will happen}. Finally, the fix-it mode kicked in and there was no silencing that mode. My mission was to get her past this hard and ugly part. To have my smiling girl return to me as if it never happened.

The Scene of the Ice Cream Crime {Insert Dramatic Gasp}

I revved the engine on my minivan and burned rubber {of course abiding the posted speed limits…..yeah, let’s go with that} all the way to Baskin Robbins. We ordered the most obnoxiously large ice cream we could and took a seat to talk about what happened. Well, hello Jack and Kate, glad your story line could join us. Let me pull you up a seat. I totally took a move from Jack’s playbook. I had just set my daughter up to emotionally eat and tried to rush her past the hurt by giving her sugary goodness. It was as if cotton candy ice cream covered in gummy bears was going to make her forget all about those stinging words. Sure, it worked in the immediate but I didn’t set her up for future success with coping. I just attached healing with food. Well, crap. This was just messed up. This was a wake up call for me. I should have known better because I emotionally eat {something that I struggle with as an adult almost daily}. I decided in that moment I needed to do better for my daughter. She deserved more than a life bound by using food in attempt to heal the hurt. But then came the how.

Pushing the Food Aside and Finding a Better Approach

After thinking, praying, and seeking advice from my closest girlfriends, I was able to better identify what I should do the next time this happened. Because let’s be real, the girl drama and mean girl moves weren’t going anywhere so we needed to be prepared. So, here are the steps I will take the next time this happens::

  • Allow your child to fully explain everything that happened without interrupting them. Really listen to how they describe the encounter. Perception is reality. You need to have a grasp of how they think the encounter happened. Don’t cut them off and try to problem solve too soon. You might miss something that you will have the opportunity to speak to.
  • Now, repeat back to them what you have heard. This will let them know you really were listening and that they were in fact actually heard. Now is your time to help them process the situation. As an adult with life experience, you can help guide them in taking a step back to really evaluate what happened. Make them take that step back to see if they played any part in the encounter. Naturally, we all want to think we didn’t do anything wrong in a situation that led to hurt. That is still a struggle for me as an adult woman. Having that discerning person in our life to help us recognize our contributions to the situation is so important. We all can benefit from a little accountability.
  • Role play back the situation to equip your child with responses that allow them to defend themselves in a way that is appropriate. For example, in this situation I told my daughter to tell the girls that it hurts her feelings that they are saying something so mean and that she doesn’t want them to speak to her that way. Now, the girls may not respond so kindly, but I thought it was important to teach her to have a voice and recognize she can and should stand up for herself. I also told her she needed to find an adult if they couldn’t work it out. We can’t anticipate what response our children will receive back from their peers, but we can help them feel confident in expressing their boundaries and seeking help if necessary. 
  • Speak truths to your child. Remind them that the words and opinions of others do not define them. Use the opportunity to remind them of the positive attributes they possess. I think as parents it is important to pour into our children what we want them to believe about themselves. I reminded my daughter that she was kind and fun.That she was loved and important to her parents and to Jesus. That hate was a big word and that the girls really did not hate her. That their words were reactive to a situation and that she is truly liked. Speaking these truths to my daughter had a much more far reaching effect than the cotton candy ice cream. My words were just as sweet and gave her confidence in her self worth instead of just a sugar high.
  • Follow up in a day or two. See how they are processing the situation and address any issues or feelings they may still be having. I know I hold onto hurt for a while, why wouldn’t my daughter as well? Processing emotional pain can have an ebb and flow. One day your child may be unfazed by what happened and then the next day something may trigger the memory and the hurt feels fresh all over again. At this point you may have to circle back to some of the steps above. 

This is Us:: Emotionally Coping Without the Ice Cream | Houston Moms Blog

Now, is my approach perfect? NO! Will your kid likely go off script and need more or less of what I have outlined? Possibly. What I think is so important is to not rush our kids through hurt, disappointment, or pain just so we can see them happy immediately. They deserve for us to teach them how to process difficult situations in a healthy manner. Thank you Jack and Kate and those brilliant writers for This is Us. You have forever become my reference for parenting advice. While ice cream dates will still be in our future, it will be for fun and not for healing any hurt. Well actually, homegirl inherited her Mama’s tonsils, so ice cream will totally be for healing when those bad boys have to come out. But you catch my drift. You can adapt or throw out any of my tips so you can do you. However, this is what me and my girl will be doing. Because this new version of dealing is the better version of us. This. This is us.

 


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Laura A. is a small town girl who loves her family fiercely. She married her high school sweetheart, Mark, in 2007 while they were finishing college at Stephen F. Austin State University. After graduating from SFA they landed in Katy. They have been blessed with two kiddos:: Amelia {2012} and Owen {2015}. Laura is a Jesus loving, bright lipstick wearing, food allergy advocating, lover of cooking ball of sass! If you see Laura rolling in her minivan and dancing like a lunatic it is because her playlist is cycling between Ludacris and Lauren Daigle. Because balance. If she is not with family or at work, you can almost always find her at Hobby Lobby or Target. If you even whisper the word craft in her presence she will approach you and ask to join you. Don’t be alarmed, this is totally normal. Crafting is her love language. She is convinced Jesus used a heavy hand of glitter when he designed her because she believes the world could always use a little extra sparkle. She has a suspicion that same bottle of glitter was totally used on Dolly Parton {they might be soul sisters}. Having a Dolly level wardrobe of sequins could be on her to do list. You can follow Laura on Instagram {@laurabethacosta} to peek into what all of this craziness looks like on the daily.

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