We all had one of those moments, when nothing makes sense and nothing you can say will resonate with your crying child. I would love to say that it gets better once out of the toddler stage, but I’d be lying…
So… we live in Florida – end of April / mid-May temperatures reach the mid- to high-80’s. Nothing a Floridian can’t handle. That is, until my 6-year old, who loves the cold and strives in snow, decided that she “hated” heat. Yes… “hated”….
As she opened the car one April afternoon after school, she got in the car and started crying uncontrollably: “I don’t like hot,” “I’m hot,” “I want cold,” “Mommy, I like snow,” “I need cold,” “put the windows down,” etc…. Got the picture?
Wait, you’re missing the kicks in the driver seat in front of her, the sheer volume of her voice, and the sliding under her seat belt. Now you have it. My calm voice for about 2 minutes, that there is nothing we can do, the A/C will be kicking in shortly, the windows are giving us air, and agitation and anger only make things worse. Followed by my yelling out of frustration, broken voice, and threats against TV time that night… That was one of my lonely parent moment. When nothing you can say makes sense to them. They don’t even hear you.
The little circus went on, E-VE-RY single day for over two weeks. Clearly the weather wasn’t about to get cooler, and unless I figured out something smart real quick, it was going to be a long and frustrating summer.
On one Wednesday afternoon, as we approached the car, I stopped my daughter a couple of steps away from the door and told her: “Ava, are you ready to cry? It’s gonna be hot in there, pleeeeease cry!” She looked at me, took a second to breathe it in, and started laughing hysterically. She got in the car, huge smile on her face, took a baby voice and said “I’m hot” in a jokingly manner. No crying, no stomping, no drama. Wow… was it that simple?
The next day, about 100 yards from the car, I asked: “Ava, are you going to cry today when we get to the car? Please do!” To which she answered: “yes, I’ll cry. I hate hot!” I fist-pumped-Tiger Woods-style a loud “YEEEEESSS” and proceeded to cross the street. She looked at me and asked: “why are you happy, Mommy?” And I said “cause I want you to cry! I’m so happy that you’ll cry when we get to the car!!” We got in – NOTHING! She didn’t even ask for the windows to be pulled down.
Mommy – 2 , Crying – 0
On day 3, I picked her up from school and the first thing she said was: “Mommy, I’m gonna cry today when we get to the car, cause I don’t like to be hot…” New fist-pump, more laughs, no drama!
That was the last I ever heard her cry after school. I am not quite sure what happened there. I probably just got very lucky, but my vocal cords thank me every day and we all have a much nicer start to our evenings. I know that yelling never solved anything with my kids (it did when my Mom yelled at us but I am clearly not as scary as she was…). But life takes over, we are tired and stressed and yelling becomes the natural response to our frustration. Sometimes, we just need to be reminded that our kiddos had to hold themselves up to school standards the entire day, and they need to let some of that same stress and tiredness out. Calm and alternative methods work so much better and kids actually hear us out. This one worked so well and I will be sure to try more of this in the future!
Please ask your child to cry and let us know what you figure out!
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