I’m his safe place

Do your kids act like absolute angels for other people but at home you struggle to understand why you don’t have more behavior reports coming though the door? 

I feel you. 

During the early months of school one of our children went through a particularly rough patch. We were shocked at the behavior change we saw! What was once a happy, playful, and emotionally steady kid was now moody, snippy, and sometimes downright nasty. We couldn’t figure out where this came from! 

We reached out to his teachers who all praised his helpful attitude, kind demeanor, and overall excellent behavior.

Um… is this the same kid? 

We would give him space to express his emotions. We’d ask him to spend time unwinding in his room so his outbursts weren’t causing the rest of the kids to become distressed. Some days this worked and other just the mention of his room sent him crumbling in even more tears. He’d say he was tired or that nothing was wrong but clearly he just didn’t know how to express all the stuff he was feeling inside.

It dawned on us after talking to several other parents experiencing the EXACT SAME SCENARIO that there was more to this than just being tired or grumpy. He was unloading the only way a young elementary school aged child does – with tears to mom and dad. He felt safe to be moody around us because there isn’t a behavior chart that could cause him consequences or a classroom full of peers to judge his behavior. He knew we loved him and would continue to do so, even if he acted less than pleasant. 

We talked frequently about appropriate ways to express emotions from then on. We still do. We remind our kids that even if we are upset with someone or our circumstances we still need to treat others with kindness and respect. We have every right to express feelings about something we don’t like but we need to do so in a way that won’t hurt other’s feelings.

It might be slowly making a difference. 

We are having significantly less meltdowns than before. Our kids are learning to take a moment when they get upset and think about the “why” behind the emotions. It will be a work in progress for a long time, but we are getting there. And every time we will continue to be their safe place.


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