At times like this, it's helpful to remember who your children really are-spiritual beings who courageously came here to evolve their souls through an earthly experience. They are learning how to operate on the planet in their little bodies, and they need your love as much as they need oxygen, food, and water. They may respond to being seen as peaceful beings-even in the midst of chaos.
Your response to your children's difficult behavior has as much to do with shaping your own parenting experience as shaping their characters. When you see yourself as having the privilege of shepherding these precious souls into adulthood, rather than being burdened with the task of raising children, your own experience of parenthood will be greatly enhanced.
You have the choice each moment to see your children through spiritual eyes of love or through earthly eyes of fear and control. The moment your intention is to control them, you are likely to respond to their tantrums, demands, and resistance with anger, exasperation, frustration, or criticism. When your intention is to be loving to yourself and to them, you will find loving ways of limiting their unacceptable behavior.
My client and I were discussing this very issue concerning her six-year-old boy. He was acting up and having tantrums every day-and she was at her wit's end. I pointed out to her that she was responding to the tantrum rather than to what was motivating it. Her son has a long day at school and in day care, and he spends every other weekend with a dad who didn't attempt to maintain consistent discipline and values.
I encouraged her to focus on her son's need for love and reassurance, rather than try to deal with the tantrum itself. At six, her son isn't very good at expressing himself, so she has to assume that his need is for love and stability. She doesn't need to punish his behavior. Instead, by letting him know she understands and loves him and that it's okay for him not to be happy all the time, the tantrum may be averted. Even if it's not, continuing to see the loving soul of the child, even in the midst of the tantrum, can do much to avert future tantrums.
For example, if your intention is to have control over your daughter while she's being verbally mean to another child, your own energy will be harsh, angry, and judgmental. You might yell at her to stop, or even be mean to her in an effort to get her to stop being mean! In either case, you are not being a role model for the behavior you want.
However, if you hold in your heart the wonder and peacefulness of your daughter's soul (you need to practice this when she is being a little angel so you can remember it when she is in the midst of being mean!), you might take her aside and let her know that meanness is unacceptable, limiting her behavior without being hostile, or you might briefly separate her and the other child with the loving energy of taking care of yourself and the situation, rather than punishing her. You can let her know that she can play again whenever she is ready to be caring instead of mean.
You might want to remember to be grateful for your child. A friend told me, "To me, this one is all about gratitude. When my kids are acting up and I want to scream, gratitude is always in the forefront of my mind. How lucky I am to have them, how blessed we are they are healthy, how beautiful they are in their souls.this helps me stay loving in the face of chaos."
Your intention to be loving or controlling not only determines how you end up feeling, but educates your child as well. Your controlling behavior teaches your child to keep finding new ways to control, while behavior that is loving to yourself and your child teaches your child about loving herself and loving you.
Staying connected with your own love and peacefulness helps you to stay connected with the love and peacefulness of your child's soul, and becomes a mirror to help your child know who he or she really is-a wonderful, beautiful, loving, and peaceful child of God.