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Sometimes all we need is time to chill!
When Grady was starting school, I got many reports from his teachers that he was crying often. Not just crying for mom and dad at the beginning of class, but crying ALL. DAY. LONG. It was shocking to me, mainly because Grady’s red zone (don’t know what that is? see episode 89!) was usually “hot”: getting red in the face, pushing people, turning over chairs, causing a miniature path of destruction, and so on. Crying was something I’d have expected from Lily, whose red zone was “cold”: whining, crying, or manifesting neediness.
Grady’s crying disturbed me. This was very unlike him, and if he wasn’t happy, I was wrongly convinced that his emotional state somehow reflected on me and my ability to parent. (The ego is incessant, as always.) But after consulting with my sister Molly, who had the emotional connection to Grady but not the attached ego, my eyes were opened. Molly had dropped Grady off at school before. She noted that arriving at school was incredibly stimulating, with crowds of kids right inside the door and overly enthusiastic teachers. She said that maybe it was too much for Grady to take in and adjust to without some time to warm up.
With Molly’s help and Grady’s teacher’s cooperation, I made a plan. Grady would enter through the side entrance of the classroom, sit in what we called the “chill chair” (but NOT like he was in trouble or like a time-out; see episode 8 on why I don’t utilize time-outs) and read, and join the class when he was ready. Grady’s teacher said it was like having a completely different child in class.
Grady doesn’t use a chill chair at school anymore, but this was a valuable tool for me and hopefully this idea will be useful for you too. It is essential that we allow children to have space while they process their big emotions, whether it’s the overstimulation of being plunged into public school or an altercation with siblings at home. Everybody develops at a different pace. Allow kids to grow at their natural pace. Give them grace and compassion, because it’s literally their first time learning to be human! And give yourself grace and compassion too! You’ve got this!
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