“Is There Something Wrong With Me?”
Whether at home or outside, there is no denying that handling your kids’ tantrums or helping them calm down can be a nerve-wrecking. Either your kids will take it well and understand your words, or they will cry and breakdown, making you feel even more overwhelmed.
Then comes the question “What’s wrong with me?”. Or the most common ones that often take residence in our minds,
“Why do other moms have it easy?”
“How does she handle them effortlessly?”
”It doesn’t get easier like they said.”
Some days are good and you feel proud of yourself, while other days seem like a failure (which I beg to differ). The best way to continue moving forward is to develop curiosity of the behaviour. Pause for a short while and think about the source of the tantrum.
Then look within and ask yourself an honest question:
Does this have to do with me and my past?
Most of the time, yes. Let’s take a look at the 5 common reasons why you are constantly triggered by your kids. Before that, let me preface by saying that being triggered is normal. It is a signal telling you something within needs attention.
#1 You see your kids as the younger version of you.
Did it give you some flashbacks of the past? Maybe sub-consciously it did. And it is as if you have become that grown adult who did once reprimand the younger you. It feels like being in a trance-like state, something of the past coming back.
How then do you remain present? By grounding yourself. That looks like pausing, closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. What you are doing here is to remind yourself that although you had a flashback, you are currently in the present. You are not in the same location and spot as the past. You are here with your child, not the adult that reprimanded you. You already know that your child is a person of his own.
Seeing your child feeling helpless and needing your love urges you to recall moments in the past where you were not given the comfort you needed. You know comforting him or her is the right thing to but there is a tug-of-war inside you that makes you think “Why is this just so difficult?”
#2 You were expected to handle your own tantrums as a child.
Was there a time in your life (or probably countless of instances) that an adult you leaned on for support, walked away? Yet you chased after them with a red-hot face stinging with tears, arms flailing and feeling abandoned, hoping to be carried and comforted. While we may become more aware of the negative effects leaving our children unattended emotionally for a long period of time, the older generation might not
Being emotionally comforted and soothed is a basic need of a child as their brains are not yet properly developed to calm themselves down. Your child needs to know you are there for him or her. And I get it, it is not easy giving something to someone when you didn’t receive any yourself.
You question: If I’m not given love or attention, how do I even give one? Do I even have that inside me? You feel unsure whether or not you are doing the right thing because it was not modelled to you when you were younger.
#3 You were not soothed repeatedly as needed.
This leads to this next point – because you are left alone to handle the overwhelming emotions, without any adult help, you might not have made peace with the incident, properly calmed down and moved on. That tearful incident becomes a painful memory until it changes your outlook in life and how you interact with the people around you.
And not forgetting, how you view yourself (what is commonly known as self-esteem). Subconsciously – whether you realize It or not – you begin to think you are unworthy of positive attention, unconditional love and experiencing being acknowledged.
#4 You grow up keeping everything to yourself.
Your thought process looks like this:
“Well, if I make a big fuss of my situation again, people will still ignore me and walk away. I will be better off not telling anyone anything, so let me deal with it myself.”
You know there is something you have been keeping in your chest for far too long.
Again, leading me to the this point (see how everything is connected?). Overtime you learn to just keep quiet about things you experience or feel and not believe the importance of expressing yourself. When someone asks you how you are doing, you reply with okay even though you are not. This becomes even more problematic in relationships. People may give you feedback that you seemed out of touch with reality or they feel cold around you. They tend to say you are indifferent about deep subjects and not wanting to open up even to the closest of relationships you have.
That’s the other party, but what about you? You keep quiet with not just yourself and your thoughts but how other people are affecting you. Whether or not they have hurt your feelings, or whether their beliefs are not aligned with yours. You avoid confrontations and open discussions because you know deep down, you lack the confidence to communicate what needs to be said. You fear saying the wrong things – so might as well not say anything at all.
#5 Your energy tank is running low (or even empty) at the moment.
Aside from your experiences in childhood, it could also be that you are not in your best shape right now. Are you stressed out? Are you hungry? Are you feeling restless? Do you need to got to the toilet? Are you feeling constipated?
Well…are your basic needs met? Sometimes they are not being met yet. And that gives you a sign that you need to put yourself first. You know what you need actually, but in your head, you are weighing the pros and cons.
“Oh man, she will cry if I just go to the toilet for 2 minutes. I’m already emotionally drained, I can’t deal with that.”
“If I eat a snack, my child will eat mine. Might as well not eat anything.”
Often times, leaving our needs for a short-term gain ends up in a long-term pain. It may that you have to place some boundaries at the moment but it is difficult for you. Or the predictability that others won’t be able to care for your kids while you care for your needs (remember those moments you leave them to someone and your kids instantly cries or look for you?) is stopping you. Regardless, you need to pay attention to YOU, too.
These five pointers mentioned are the most common reasons why you are constantly triggered with your kids. I would like to reiterate that being triggered does not equate to you being a failure of a mom. Nope. Maybe you see all these mothers on social media that post about how they always seem like they have it all together. And it is slowly getting to you. Being triggered is a signal, a message that “Hey, this situation is stirring some discomfort inside me.”
It is a chance for you to look within and not avoid it. Just like how you might experience a back ache. What is the discomfort telling you? Time for a break.
Time to sit and rest for a bit. Right?
Similarly with your emotions too. Look, you might not have gotten the pep talk about this but I’m here to let you know that experiencing triggers and feeling uncomfortable is part and parcel of growth, reflection and even better relationships with your loved ones.
So you might be wondering, “Okay what’s next? I’m aware of these pointers. What now?”
Well, stay tuned for part 2, in shaa Allah (God-willing)!