“Mom, this was my WORST day ever.”

I was away from my child today, and I had to leave him with my parents while I had a meeting with a client. After my meeting, I called my parents to check where should I meet them for lunch. And I found out that at about 1 pm, they were still at home and hadn’t had their lunch yet. I knew that it was going to be very hard to manage, as my child would probably be hungry and it won’t end well if he’s also tired. So, I rushed back and took them out for lunch.

I just can’t imagine what is going to happen with three hungry people and with the Friday lunch crowd. It is going to be crazy. But luckily, we managed to find a place to have our lunch, ordered our food and it was a rather smooth experience.

The challenge happened after lunch just before tea break time. I got caught in a battle between my child and my dad. My dad doesn’t like to stay too long at the shopping mall. He called me checking when we could go back. On the other hand, my child still wants to play at the indoor playground.

Son: Mom, today is my WORST day ever. I don’t have a chance to choose what I would like to do.

Mom: Sorry, what would you like to do?

Son: I want to play at the indoor playground.

Mom: Which playground and how long are you going to play there?

Son: Dxxx for about 30 minutes

We went to check out that Dxxx indoor playground and it costs nearly RM50. I personally don’t feel that it’s worth it for 30 minutes. He doesn’t usually demand things like this. At the most, he will be asking me if he can play and we will discuss the options.

Then I suddenly recalled that he could be very tired because he had slept late the night before. Half of the day I’m not around and staying indoors (no physical play), etc. In those circumstances, my child is physically tired and probably can’t rationalize the way he used to be.

To divert his anger and frustration, we had a slow walk to the nearby restaurant to have our tea break. Then my parents met us there. I wish I could have had more time to talk to my child before they arrived. When my dad sat down he realized quickly that my child wanted to go to the indoor playground, he was trying to reason with my child. It was such a difficult situation.

It is very normal that some days we don’t feel good about things that have happened. We can’t possibly keep our child happy ALL the time. Neither do we want our children to feel that we don’t care about their feelings. So, it is important that, as parents, we identify their feelings (happy, sad, worried, disappointed, etc.). After identifying it, we acknowledge their feelings. When these first two steps are done, it will be easier to move to the next step to talk about some coping strategies and suggestions.

In my case, I helped my child identify that he’s feeling sad, upset and disappointed when he doesn’t get a chance to play at the indoor playground. I acknowledged his feelings and offered some coping strategies such as breathing, drawing his feelings on paper or having a slow walk. He then chose the option to draw. I used that opportunity to walk him through the options we had to play at the indoor playground. We spoke about the price in relation to the Pokémon Game at the arcade he used to play. Here is the picture we drew together.

 

I’m not helping him to make a decision, but rather I am letting him see the options, and he can decide what he wants.

After the discussion, he was happy to come back to the indoor playground another day to play for a longer time. When we got into the car, my son fell asleep not long after that. He’s definitely too tired. When someone is tired, even an adult can’t make good decisions. It is important for us to take a break sometimes before we make certain decisions.