By God’s Grace, I actually didn’t totally lose it at my 4-year-old!
Goodness. You know how you see some things unfolding in slow motion? When craziness is happening right in front of you, but you can’t stop it. All you can do is hold your breath and watch the train wreck!
The baby was laying on his tummy on the bed. Preschooler ran across the room and launched herself through the air at the bed, trying to play. Well, she overshot. Before even making contact with the bed, she hit baby. As in, the first contact was her head, slamming into the side of his head. At flying speed. The poor baby was flipped onto his back. Yet, through a generous helping of God’s grace, I didn’t lose my temper.
There was a second of silence as everyone held their breath, then the baby let out a piercing scream. I ran to scoop him up, and 4-year-old tried to escape. With her hands over her ears, she ran into the other room.
I bounced baby for half a minute, until his screaming mellowed into crying. That gave me a chance to say a quick prayer and ask God for guidance. How should I handle this one!? Lord, take my anger away so I don’t make things worse! As he cried and cried, I called my daughter back into the room. “Here sweetheart, you hurt your brother. Please sit in the rocker with us and help me make him feel better.”
She crawled up onto the armrest. As she stroked his head and made soothing sounds at the baby, you could see a change come over her face. After a few minutes she said “I did this. I did this to him. Poor baby. I’m sorry Baby. I will be more careful.”
As I was rocking the two of them, watching them interact, I started thinking about how differently it could have turned out if I had reacted poorly. If I had yelled and sent her to her room,(which was honestly my knee jerk reaction to want to do) what would her reaction have been? She would have been angry and hurt. Alone in her room while I comforted her brother, you can bet she would NOT have been thinking about how to be more gentle in the future! She would have been stewing in resentment, and would see herself as the victim.
It could have even planted a seed of jealousy that Mama was cuddling him, and banishing her!
Instead, because she wasn’t punished (but still held accountable for her actions by not being allowed to run away and ignore his pain) she was free to focus on the baby’s distress, instead of being overwhelmed by her own.
It really made me think about how every single encounter we have with our children, every word, every action, and especially every response to misbehavior, is shaping their conscience.
Let’s hold them accountable for their actions by helping them see the pain they caused, and make AMENDS.
Not get even by punishing them, and allowing them to use OUR ANGER as a distraction.