I thought the neighbours would call the police on me

My granddaughter Flo sobbed in her Daddy’s arms when he came home on Friday evening after I’d looked after both Flo and her little brother for the first time on my own that day. 

“Granny wouldn’t let me out of my bedroooooom!” 

“WHAT? Oh Dear God!”, I winced at how awful that sounded…

I already thought the neighbours were going to call the police on me earlier that day because she was wailing at the top of her lungs for 15 minutes in a full Threenager meltdown after I had the audacity to suggest she change out of a gunky top into a clean one.

And now I was being accused of false imprisonment! 

My son grinned as I carefully explained the full story to him:

When Flo decided she didn’t want to change her top she started yelling “Get away from me, Granny! GET AWAY!”. 

Now this isn’t unusual behaviour for a little one attempting to carve out their independence, and when there is more than one adult around, getting away from her is a perfectly reasonable thing to do - I don’t like riling her up unnecessarily.

But I was the only adult in the house that day, and when she slammed her bedroom door in my face, I got a little worried that she could be poking her fingers into sockets or climbing out of the window, so I took Rory into her room to sit with her whilst she “explored her negative emotions” as the parenting blogs describe toddler tantrums. 

She screamed at me to get out, but I calmly explained I was here to help her stay safe, and that we would all sit together until she felt better again.

I just had to be OK with her not liking me for a while, and not taking it personally. 

The tantrum passed, and she was her usual cute self for the rest of the day and we left as friends, but I had to laugh at how terrible it must have sounded!

It’s not just toddlers that have tantrums. 

We’re all exposed to other people’s moods every day (although thankfully they are not always as extreme as a Threenager’s!). 

Sometimes it can feel hard not to be affected by other people’s emotions. 

Many of us feel very uncomfortable when people are upset around us, and feel it’s our responsibility to help them feel better. 

But, when you’re an adult, your emotions are always your responsibility. 

If you know you’ve screwed up and your actions have negatively impacted someone, then fair enough - you can put that right.

But when you know you haven’t done anything wrong and they’re still blaming you for how they feel, then it’s time to hand back responsibility for their emotions to them.  

Allow them to “explore their negative emotions” in a different way and you put your focus and energy into people who appreciate your company. 

They can sort their own yogurty jumper out!

The author 

Vicki LaBouchardiere

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