My elder daughter did something to her younger sister and she needed to recognize her mistake and apologize.
She resisted it.
After trying for over 15 mins to talk things out with her, she agreed on what she could have done differently but refused to say sorry still.
I moved on to what I needed to do for the morning and she started throwing herself on the floor, crying and demanding me to come back to her. I was almost there, to just "poker face", to see how long this could last, and prove to her she couldn't get her way around by throwing tantrum and speaking unkindly.
"You have to come here" she shouted.
"No, I dont have to. You have a choice to say sorry and move on or continue crying and feeling frustrated. I have a choice to not come.."
I was ready to play it heads on with her until I realized this as I was speaking to her - Yes, I do have a choice to not come and I also have a choice to come. Which one do I choose.
Thankfully, I gave myself this one-second pause to consciously choose, and continue my sentence quickly (hoping she didn't catch my "challenge")
"..but i choose to come here because i care for you, not because i have to"
That one shift changed the whole dynamic. I was able to sit down with her feeling more empowered - I chose to do this, not because my toddler dragged me into it.
She started climbing onto me and cried hysterically. I was still hurt by what she said and tried to reinforce my autonomy with my words. But I quickly realized it wouldn't get through and it was not necessary at that point.
My focus shifted to her and how I could help us through this.
MAP (the method I use for my coaching) came in handy. I asked if she wanted me to do a session for her. She said yes (I gave her a few sessions before).
Like magic, she calmed down. As we progressed, there was one time she cried out loud again and told me in tears "Just now when you was showering Alina (her sister), I wanted to say sorry..."
I am not sure why but this touched me deeply. How could I have known this if I had chosen to not come, how could I have known this if I had not chosen to give her this space to process her emotions feeling safe and cared for.
Things got much easier. She sobbed for a little more and after a couple of MAP commands, she told me she felt better and ready to say sorry.
I realize as parents, we tend to be so focused on our children doing the right thing that we get frustrated when they resist, and that pushes us to a very disempowering position, of detachment, punishment, victimization.
The space I gave myself to realize the choices I have, and make the choice I truly want was a precious turning point.
And the tool I have to give my daughter that safe space to feel and express is priceless. Techniques aside, it gives us the opportunity to bond and share an experience.
She knows "a session" means she has my full attention, support and full permission to be herself.
I hope every parent chooses to create this safe space for your child.
If you are curious about what I use, don't hesitate to drop me a line and I'll be happy to share :)