Pre-teen Amy comes home from school and bursts through the kitchen door. “The other girls are being mean to me. I hate them,” she cries as she melts into her mama’s arms. You hug and console her, using your best active listening to help her through her hurt feelings. Amy feels better but concludes, “I’m never going back to school.” Your continued active listening brings her emotional fever down. She soon feels better and loses interest in talking any further.
Tweenager is the term for children who are no longer children but not yet teenagers. Tweenage drama is universal. You did your best in helping Amy with her immediate upset, but there’s more talking to be done.
Later that night, during the bedtime routine, you speak up. “Sweetheart, I’m so sorry those mean girls got to you today. Let’s pray that tomorrow will be better.” Afterward, you lead with, “You know, Amy, I have some thoughts. Do you want to hear them?” Whatever your child’s age, asking permission to talk to them perks up their ears and almost always leads to a yes answer.
Generally, drama comes from two sources, either worry or sadness. Worry starts with the question, “What if…?” What if they stay mean to me? What if I can’t get over it? And so forth. Sadness usually starts with the statement, “If only…” If only I had walked down the clear hallway. If only Kathy would have stood up to them for me.
Being a mindful parent involves helping your child understand their feelings in the moment by active listening. Then, help them stay in the moment as they interact with you and others. Consider my stretched out arms to be the ends of a straight time line that stretches from way in the past, on my left, through the present, to way into the future on my right. Take the midpoint and sweep your left hand out. Sadness is regretting the past. Take the midpoint and sweep your right hand out. Worry is fearing what lies in the future. By bringing both of your hands from the outstretched ends together at the midpoint, you are being mindful and staying in the moment.
Mom’s explanation to her daughter Amy was a profound teachable moment that helped Amy take care of her own problems, and not let stuff get to her, by being mindful and staying in the moment. Help your children be centered in their lives.