Part of parenting is remembering NOT to laugh when your child has a serious reaction to a small difficulty. While I was face-timing with my friend and business partner about our upcoming virtual event, Madilynn came inside, completely distraught. Several scenarios went through my mind as I asked her what was wrong. With the look on her face, I expected to hear something traumatic like seeing a bird crash into the house and die or someone lurking in the alley. Instead, she said, “I kicked my flip-flop over the fence.” She was almost in tears as she said it, but I couldn’t hold in my laughter. I asked what happened. She told me that she got mad at Dietrich for saying that they needed goals while kicking the ball and she didn’t want to play that way. She kicked the ball in anger and lost her flip-flop in the process.
After she took a deep breath and calmed down, I sent them next door to see if anyone could retrieve the flip-flop. My friend was still on the phone through all of this, laughing with me. We wrapped up our discussion and the kids came in saying no one was home next door. I sat with Madilynn and told her we would try again later. Then we talked about the result of reacting in anger. I also told her she ought to wear real shoes to kick a ball.
This situation led me to think about all the times I’ve overreacted and all the ways I’ve learned to control my reactions and respond in more productive ways. I have years of experience to share with my children when they struggle with big emotions. So often the temptation to react to a situation only leads to more problems. Take a breath, evaluate the problem, and form a solution.
As I started supper, I sent Dietrich next door again and the flip-flop was recovered. The neighbor also laughed. Finding humor through misfortune allows us to diffuse the negative emotions and start forming a helpful solution. The next time you get angry, take a breath, and don’t kick your flip-flop over the fence!