How to “Fixit” for Your Inner Four-Year-Old

Something didn’t go the way I wanted today. Someone isn’t doing what I want them to do today. And the weather is totally misbehaving and out of my control. My inner four-year-old is stamping her foot and is totally pissed off. And that’s okay.

maggie mcreynolds blog, tantrumsI’m kinda letting her have her say at the moment, because it’s interesting and a little entertaining—she’s cute when she’s mad. She wants things when she wants them, the way she wants them, and at the exact time she wants them! She is hollering and her cheeks are red and she is still trying to control things by pouting (the lip thing sometimes works, you know), wishing (lack of magic lamp issue aside), and doggedly trying to put the “broken” things back together with kindergarten scissors and that thick, weird paste some of the kids used to eat in school.

My grown-up knows that at some point, she will tire of this effort and will thrust it at me and say, “Fixit.” What she really means isn’t that she expects me to change other people’s behavior, or magically alter the weather, or wave a magic wand and make the pants that arrived in the wrong size (too big) suddenly be the right one.

She wants me to fix her feelings, she wants me to fix it by helping her figure out how to feel better, and how to go with it when things and people and weather aren’t going the way she expected or the way she wanted them to.

Fortunately, I know this little girl quite well, and I know what works with her and for her. She needs some time to have a little tantrum and to figure out that all the foot-stomping and pouting and flouncing around and library paste in the world isn’t going to change anything. Then she needs a big hug, a reframe (hey, the too-big pants mean you’re losing that weight you wanted to! and the weather—it’s fun to snuggle inside with your puppy when it’s cold! and that guy you are crazy about and want to see RIGHT NOW will be here tomorrow, and that’s going to be equally cool), and then she needs a distraction: let’s go out and buy a new pair of pants after we send the package back to Amazon! Let’s figure out something really special for dinner and rent a movie! Let’s move the dining room furniture around and make room for the tree we’re putting up tomorrow!

And so, like the competent and loving grown-up I know myself to be, I will parent the frustrated four-year-old I also know myself to be—without judging, shaming or ignoring either one of us.

How is your inner four-year-old doing today? Mine, she’s just about ready to wind down and let me help. Good thing, too, because my real-life 13-year-old son needs to be picked up from school, and I wouldn’t let my four-year-old drive my big ol’ SUV in a million years. I don’t like the way she takes the corners. : )

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