Finally… a break in my own parenting, so that I can respond. Again, I’m so sorry that I didn’t get a notice that you’d posted. Tech is working on that.
It’s so great that you have a Listening Partnership, Annemarie! As you know, the best first step whenever our kiddo presents us with an emotional project is to increase the amount of Listening Time we are getting. My son is adopted, has big learning challenges, and at 13, is one big fat EMOTIONAL PROJECT!!! I’ve increased my Listening Time to 4-5xs each week. Just last week, one of my partners gave me 2 big chunks of one-way time. Suddenly, I had a different kid. He was lighter, more flexible and definitely more fun. It was almost weird. Now, you may need more partners in order to get more listening time. I say, the more the better.
In your Listening Time, work on FEAR – your fears for your daughter – and work on POWERLESSNESS. When our kiddos seem stuck, it can make us feel soooo powerless. Go back and explore how you felt powerless when you were small. Push against a wall and rage and cry and fight, fight, fight. I have gotten much better results – meaning a shift in how I’m being with my son – when I work on the past. Rather than simply venting about the present. Does that make sense?
What working on your own past and feelings of powerlessness will do, I think, is give you the capacity to be playful when your sweet girl exhibits competitiveness. So, when she goes ‘na, na, na’, you say, “oh, really, I think that winners get 1000 kisses, or big fat snuggles as you turn her off-track behavior into an affection game. That’s PLAYLISTENING, where you PLAY with her off-track-ness and then LISTEN for the LAUGHTER.
All this competitiveness and being unwilling to let go of things is all driven by FEAR. Laughter is offloading fear and it’s super connecting. Laughter helps unwind that tightness that drives her need to win and be first. So you can engage in competitions with her, and it always ends up that after she “wins”, you fall on top of her. You make some kind of “mistakes” that connects the two of you and gets her laughing. Doing this kind of play will help keep you away from the place of feeling appalled and annoyed by her behavior.
If she gets angry when you become playful about your “losing”, so much the better. That means her limbic system is ripe and ready to offload those tears that are just underneath the anger.
And yes, doing more and more Special Time and rough/n/tumble Play you can do, where you are taking the LESS powerful role will prime her emotional pump, so that when you do SET A LIMIT on what you are going to give away, she can release some big huge feelings. You getting more Listening Time will give you more capacity to simply PROPOSE, ‘we are going to give this away, sweetie’, and then LISTEN. You are not looking for her agreement or trying to talk her into it. You are proposing the limit so that she can use that ‘giving away’ as a PRETEXT for offloading more of that fear.
You’ve probably heard this in regard to Emotional Projects…. Actually look for opportunities to BRING Little Limits. Avoid work-arounds if you have the time to listen. (That’s when you do something, give her something, agree to something in order to avoid the upset) If you don’t feel like you have the capacity to Propose a limit on her things that you are giving away, Bring a Limit on something smaller and less charged for the two of you. Here’s a good example of that:
Here are some great ideas to help you become more playful, if that’s tough for you:
Then you may have seen one or both of these articles. There are some great ideas in here in terms of how fear is driving her behavior. I think the articles can help with where to focus. Again, YOU getting more Listening Time will help you to feel confident in how you are being with her and how you are dancing with that fear and off-track behavior.
Again, my apologies for missing your post, and then even taking a few days to respond after I heard back from you. Weekends can be particularly rough over here.
You are such a hard working thoughtful Mama. I hope some of my ideas help. Do let us know how it goes.
Peace & Smiles,