Stressing out when your kids get upset? Let’s think about this differently

Lets start by asking what is it in the world that you want most for your child?

More often then not the verbatim answer is “health and happiness”. Amen. Easy enough said, right? But oh such a tricky and non-linear journey to get there, namely because it does not always feel intuitively right.

Where we often get tripped up is that we think that to develop a happy child, we must eliminate struggle, pain and discomfort. In essence we become an expert “sweeper” – you know that crazy winter Olympics sport of Curling – where a team member glides a stone along the ice and the rest of the team start desperately adjusting the friction of the ice in front with a set of kitchen brooms. Feel familiar? I sure know that at times this is exactly how my day feels.

And like with most actions taken by parents, it is done with the best intentions in mind; Because really who wants to stand there and see your child take a fall, experience pain of the hardship of setbacks? Me – and here is why:


  1. Eliminating struggle, challenge and discomfort for your child is not only impossible, it also robs them of opportunity to develop strength in time of difficulty, confidence to navigate challenge and the capacity to manage themselves. The reality of being a parent is that you cannot be there in every moment of your child’s life and there is a time when they do not want you to be.
  2. If we impart on our children that difficult feelings are bad then we cast a shadow over the emotions that are inevitably part of life. We judge them. So not only does your child experience the challenge of the situation and their emotional reaction but also feelings of shame and guilt that they should not be having that experience.
  3. The “sweeper” parent can also lead to and perpetuate the issue that so many teens, young and fully fledged adults face where we over estimate the difficulty of a situation and underestimate our own capacity to face it. This results in unnecessary and often pervasive stress and anxiety.

So the reason I am ok with seeing my children fail, become upset and encounter set backs is that I understand, appreciate and respect the importance of discomfort in my kids life. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t seek it out and I am there with open arms and dedicated time to help talk it through. But in the meantime, I like to standback and watch. It is through learning to do this more and more and overcome the natural inclination to jump in and manage the situation for my child that I can see the beginnings of the strength of independence, empathy and confidence grow.


Wondering how you can navigate this tightrope of protection and independence:

  1. Step back and observe. You will be amazed at your childs capacity to manage themselves. They may of course need some encouragement and guidance but resist the urge to take over and intervene.
  2. Look for safe opportunities to encourage discomfort –it could be in a new social setting or a new physical pursuit.
  3. As well as encouraging independence, keep it balanced with connectivity with your child. High quality connections can be formed through small interactions like story telling, hugs and play.
  4. Offer your child a feedback loop on what capability and strength you saw them use. Helping your child to recognise their own growth is fundamental.


Each child-parent relationship is individual. It is important to remain conscious in the way we approach our parenting role and develop awareness about what is informing our behaviour. If you would like to explore this topic further – reach out and connect with us.


Has your relationship soured since having kids? Here’s why.

Throw the responsibility of tiny humans into the mix and your relationship with your partner can quickly turn from friend to foe. Whether it is the crying in the night which becomes the Mexican stand off, the inconvenient scheduling of social and sporting activities without notification or negotiation or whether its just because your ‘emotional restraint’ quota has been exhausted on your toddler, that you get tipped over the edge when a set of shoes is discarded at the front door rather than neatly stowed in the designated shoe spot…. Relationships and small children are no easy feat.


No better reminder of this, is when you are actually able to steal a few hours, even an evening together that you recognise the person that you actually love so much or at a minimum, those feelings of resentment and frustration abate momentarily; and it is then that you remember that you jointly chose this path to parenthood with excitement and anticipation about what it would all entail.


There is no doubt that the responsibility for children zaps time, energy and patience from a relationship. It is also a time when many women expect their partners to become mind readers and magicians. There is the assumption that they should ‘realise and understand’ what your physical and emotional needs are. The problem is, they often don’t. So, the assumption that they should is a dangerous one.


Equally, when small children arrive a metaphorical line in the sand is draw and you sit on one side and your partner on the other. Who is going to attend to the multitude of ongoing needs? Me or you? Who did it last time? Me or you? Who was up during the night? Me or you? Who had the more demanding week? Me or you? We lose connection to the idea that as parents and partners you are a team. As the age old saying says, there is not ‘I’ in team.


However in the haze of family life when your day’s, weeks and months are spent tending to the needs of your babes, then ‘I’ is generally the only perspective you can take. When both partners are doing this, things become tricky. It is at the time that frustrations rise, hurtful words or no words are uttered, resentment bubbles away and you step further and further away from the centerpoint that you used to share.


This is a point that I would argue the vast majority of parents get to at some stage. At this time you have a choice. Dig your heels in, make your point or remind yourself that you are part of a team. If both of you were individually asked what you wanted for the relationship, you might likely respond in a similar fashion with statements of being in a loving supportive intimate relationship. So if your ideal relationship goals are converging, why when the going gets tough do we push in the opposite direction?


The answers to this are varied. It can be an evolutionary fight or flight response. It can be the fact that small children can be damn frustrating and your partner is the only other person that you can direct this at or it can be that there are real differences in perspectives and parenting that you have not had to address previously.


The remedy here is self-awareness, communication and commitment and this can start with you. In fact the best place for it to start with is you even if you do not perceive yourself to be the issue. By understanding how to respond rather than react you can model the behaviour you wish to see. You can learn how to approach the topics of tension without conflict in mind. You can purposefully and intentionally shift the dialogue to a conversation about we and us not you and me.


To get help with tension and strain in your relationship, connect with us to arrange an appointment.