One afternoon after a long day at school for myself and my children I could tell that one of my children was at the end of his tether for the day. He then had to go to tennis, a sport which he doesn’t particularly enjoy, but until he finds something else to do, he is stuck with it. Whilst they were all at tennis I began to picture the rest of the evening in my head – the arduous task of cooking dinner, the conversation around the dinner table, the snapping, the nagging, the whining, the whinging and finally the inevitable meltdown of my child. This time, however, I was prepared, and adopted a tactic that avoided the pre-empted meltdown.
I don’t often do my children’s jobs for them as I believe they need to contribute to the everyday life of the household, however, this particular night I decided I would ‘set the table’. I pulled out a clean tablecloth, popped some pretty serviettes into wine glasses and sat down to write a quick ‘love’ note to each of them, telling them one reason why I love them so much and that they make my day brighter. When they arrived home from tennis I continued about preparing the evening meal, one by one each of them approached the table and read their special note, I was then rewarded with a hug and an “I love you too”.
My simple little act avoided what was going to be a long night filled with yelling, misbehaviour, tears, and anxiety. If we have the foresight to predict disaster and intervene appropriately we can save ourselves and our children from a lot of angst. If we work to be proactive, rather than reactive 9 out of 10 times the situation will diffuse itself and harmony can be restored.
As adults, we need to lead the way, take responsibility, acknowledge the situation and be able to deal with it in a positive manner, not just for the child involved but for all the members of the family. Meltdowns in a family don’t just affect that child, they affect all whom live with that child, it is therefore important that when preventable situations present themselves, that is exactly what they become – prevented!