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Video of a Boy Helping His Brother Calm Down Is a Free Parenting Lesson

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The year is 2004. 

I hear, “Stop crying before I give you something to cry about.” My cousin is being chewed out by their dad again after breaking the window of an old car in their backyard. It was an accident. Earlier we were watching “106 & Park” and eating popsicles, a break from 7th grade homework and essays, but the entire mood has changed. I’m no stranger to this kind of response when I’m being disciplined. It’s almost as if the only acceptable response for a child is compliance– there’s no room for anxiety, anger, sadness or any other feeling on the emotional spectrum.

The year is 2021. 

I’m the father of a beautiful 2-year-old. She’s at the point where she has preferences, and sometimes that means not wanting to stop playing, not wanting to go to bed or not wanting to clean up toys. Sometimes she shouts about it. Sometimes she runs away. And sometimes her feelings are a bit more heightened. My wife and I take her needs and her mental wellness seriously as we work to interrupt the unhealthy parenting patterns of our past. We acknowledge that the people who raised us did what they could with what they had. We’re wholeheartedly thankful. Still, we want to do better.

A few nights ago, I saw a 4-year-old boy in a similar situation in a viral Twitter video.

 According to his mother, he was crying because he wasn’t able to play on his gaming system. But, thankfully, his older brother calmly intervened by saying, “Breathe….again,” while displaying how to inhale and exhale slowly.

“When I tell you all it took us time, this is what I mean… his temperament used to be off the chain! While I can appreciate the flowers and love I am not perfect, no mother is. I don’t have all the answers. I’m really just trying to raise some emotionally healthy kids!“

This was a free parenting lesson.

The mother has done exactly what my wife and I have done with our daughter– show empathy, calmly address the issue, remain patient until she calms down and talk with her about how she feels. According to Dr. Danae Lund, a child and adolescent behavioral health specialist at Sanford Health, “Empathy is accepting, acknowledging and inviting emotions to be expressed — no matter how strong or unwelcome.”

Because of this mom’s parenting, her oldest child was able to put what he learned into action. We don’t often get to see instant results of raising our children, but this was a clear display of how adjusting our response as parents can yield generational gains.

Though we often place unattainable expectations on ourselves, none of us will parent perfectly. Still, there’s power in meeting our children where they are, trying our best to be in the moment with them and showing them that it’s okay to not be okay. They’ll remember these moments. Always.


Lead image courtesy of Getty Images

Originally published: March 18, 2021
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