I Let My Daughter See Me Have a Meltdown and It Was The Best Thing For Her

It was a sunny, beautiful day so the kids (3 plus one in-vitro) and I checked out the La Jolla tidepools. We then followed it up with a trip to Birch Aquarium. We had the best time! At one point I was enjoying just being in the moment so much I forgot to snap pictures to show my husband. We stopped by some fancy pizza place on the way home since the kids love going out to eat and then we headed back to the house.

At this point, the mood of the day changed. My oldest wanted to go to the beach. I was exhausted. My youngest (2) did not want to get out the car so she bounced between the front and back seats laughing hysterically as I tried to grab her. Did I mention I am pregnant and my growing womb makes it difficult for me to be as agile as I would like? I finally grab my bouncing 2-year-old, the diaper bag, a grocery bag of snacks and tell the older two to follow me as we march towards the front door.

As soon as we get in the house my oldest (7) shoots me a glare and mumbles under her breath, “This is the worst day ever.”

What! I lose it. I drop everything. The bags, my youngest, and my resolve. “What do you mean worst day ever?! You saw a crab in the tidepools! You had fun at the aquarium and we went out to eat! The worst day ever? Really!” By this point, I am in tears. Yes, real tears run down my face as I stand in shock and aw. My oldest’s face contorts from one of sheer angst to shock to sadness then she breaks down and cries. She was remorseful and I was grateful for that remorse.

I believe that my daughter needed to see that her mother was a person with feelings and she needed to know that the way she expresses her feelings affect other people. I could have calmly expressed that she was being ungrateful and I didn’t appreciate it but I do not think she would have heard me otherwise, at that moment. She needed me to shake things up.

So how did I reconcile with my outburst?

  1. I gave myself grace. I am an imperfect person doing my best to be the best I can be.
  2. I thought about how I was feeling. I went through the 4 questions in my head.
  3. I checked my motivation and my intent. (My motivation was to show my daughter I have feelings. My intent is to raise a kind, gracious, generous child.)
  4. I made a decision. I believe in apologizing to my children when I do something that goes against the standard. In this case, I decided there was nothing to apologize for and I continued about our day. She later apologized to me and we went on to continue life as usual.

I wanted to share this with you because many think to be emotionally intelligent means being void of emotional expression, it does not. When you are emotionally intelligent you take responsibility for your emotional expression before, during, and after your feeling has passed. I want to teach my kids that not only can they feel, but their feelings affect others, which is why I let my daughter see me have a meltdown.


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