A few weeks ago Peanut threw the mother of all tantrums. She was kicking me, punching me, screaming and sobbing. This little pint sized girl was trying any and every way to get her every way.
She had thrown a few more tantrums than normal lately, and nothing had worked. Time outs, Time ins, taking toys away, making apologies, etc. I was done. Fed up. Had it. My sweet little girl would turn into a terror with merely a shake of my head.
This time, I carried her to her room - kicking and punching the whole way - and calmly sat her on her bed. She screamed to get out, to get up, and I very calmly told her that she would stay right there until she stopped screaming and punching, and then I would be back to talk to her.
I walked out her door to just down the hall. I almost immediately heard her sniffling her tears in, trying to calm down, so I went back into her room and sat on the bed next to her.
"Sometimes, when I get upset, I just need one thing to make me feel better." I said to her. "Do you know what that is?"
She looked up at me, tears still rapidly dripping. "No. What?"
She kept looking at me, tears slowing down, eyes wide.
"Do you think you need a hug?" I asked.
She nodded and leaned into me. I hugged her. I could feel her little body quivering from the raw emotion of her tantrum, her breaths ragged and gasping.
I kept hugging her. We didn't talk. I didn't lecture. We just sat there and hugged. I could feel her anxiety and my frustration slip away as we just held each other, mother and daughter.
She whispered into my arm. "I'm sorry I hit you, Mommy."
It was only then that we talked about actions and emotions, apologies and anger. Words that can't be taken away and actions that hurt others physically and emotionally. We talked about loving each other unconditionally.
It felt good. For once I felt that she was listening to me, and that I was listening to her, rather than just doling out punishment. I told her that her actions were unacceptable, that hitting and screaming were disrespectful and not allowed. I asked her what she thought a proper punishment for her actions should be.
She started to tear up again, but said solidly,"You should take away my barbies until I can be more respectful." And she grabbed her box o'Barbies to put in my room.
"Except this one. You don't need to take Chelsea." she said as she grabbed Barbie's littlest sister. I let her keep her. She was respectful the rest of the day and next. All her Barbies eventually went back to her room with Chelsea.
Yesterday, Peanut woke up cranky from her nap, frustrated with everything. Her blanket wasn't on her feet right. She didn't like grapes any more . She wanted a different snack. She was cold. She was bored. She wanted to play a board game, but no, no no, not that board game. No, no that one either. The list kept going on, until I finally threw up my hands and told her I didn't know what she needed right now. She started crying and said,"I just need a hug, Mommy. Please can I have a hug?"
I hugged her.
Hugs are band-aids for aching hearts, a balm for hurt feelings. They can heal faster than any medicine.
Sometimes I forget that my smart, social girl is only four. With all her independence and spirit, I forget that she is just a little girl, learning her way in this world. It shouldn't have taken me this long to realize it, but sometimes all she needs is a hug.