Being an empathic mom

Through all the tantrums recently, I learnt that the best method in the end was still to show empathy and acknowledge Calvin’s feelings. Like this morning, he woke up with the ‘turn off the lights’ shouting that he sometimes do. We would be totally befuddled because the lights are not on at all. It’s just the sun and we can’t turn that off. When we told him that, he got really mad. And finally I said, “You are really upset, Calvin. You wanted to turn off the light by using papa as a stool.” “yeah”, said Calvin. “that’s why you were upset when papa said you can’t” “yeah”. And after that he was a lot calmer and wanted to go down for breakfast. On the way out, he stepped on my leg, reached up to flip the switch to turn on the light and then turned it off again. “it’s dark.” he said with a grin.

After reading the parenting book from John Gottman, I have to agree that I would like my relationship with Calvin to be that of two people, not a person and her dog. I would like to respect his feelings as a little person and not dismiss his needs or requests as trivial. As it is, many aspects of his life are dictated by us – when to sleep, when and what to eat, when we can go out. He probably can’t help but want to be in control of some things even if they are small. This is also the age when kids tend to get insecure and scared especially those with great imagination. For example, being afraid of the dark because he starts to imagine strange things in the shadows or places that he can’t see. I noticed that Calvin is not comfortable about watching cartoons with strange-looking creatures. In fact when showed him sesame street and there was one part about a big giant, he started hiding his face behind my hand and peeking out at it. Then he told me he didn’t like it.

I think I’ve never been a really empathic person. I remember how e* used to tell me I was terrible at comforting people. It’s funny that after all this time, I’m finally learning to do it right.

And recently, Calvin has been such an angel that I do feel that I’m doing something right. Maybe it’s because I’m also less stressed and grumpy and he can sense that. He is actually very sensitive to my moods. When I’m upset, he will ask me “mama, are you happy?” or “why are you making that face?” when I’m not smiling. Maybe my moodiness made him feel insecure, but I finally worked things out myself and with Johnny so I finally feel at peace again.

Like today was a perfect day. After that incident in the morning, he got to school without a hiccup. He came home in high spirits, had a good lunch and we were exploring his new sensory bin about spring together. He really enjoyed scooping and pouring the beans and he’s been very good about not making too much of a mess. He was pretending to cook “just like mama” and then giving me and papa his favorite food “crispy micken mhin” (it’s actually roasted chicken skin) or he’d pretend we are in a train and carry around this huge 13 gallon garbage bin that we’ve never used, pretending it’s a snack cart and giving out “fish-wiches”. The best part was when he put the bin on his head and torso and said it was camouflage. He then proceeded to try and catch his papa by bumping him.

Before naptime, he wanted to read an extra book and I nearly got him into a tantrum by denying him. Until I remembered that I wanted to be accommodating when it doesn’t really hurt anyone and relented to reading an abbreviated version of the magic school bus book. After nap was snack and more pretend play cooking. He was even doing his “work” cleaning up the house. How proud I am of him. Even though we still have lots to work on like his potty training and Chinese, we are no longer really worried about him as he has really blossomed and showing keen interest in trying new things at the playground and at home.

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2 Responses to “Being an empathic mom”

  1. e* Says:

    really, i said that you were terrible at comforting people? surely i wasn’t comparing to myself? because i’m terrible at comforting people too. i’m always the strangest and most awkward things..

  2. miucat Says:

    Haha, you did. I think it was after one of your arguments with B*. I’m pretty sure I wholeheartedly agreed with you. I never knew what to say in those situations. I’ve always made the mistake of trying to think up solutions when what most people needed in those times was a listener.

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