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How to Manage Meltdowns in Public - Gentle Parenting

Updated: Sep 3, 2022

Today is a different day and I am completely in a different energy. I’ve been brave and vocal and honest and vulnerable. But what I am coming here to commemorate - was that moment today when I had the best response to a woman who is currently moving into our building and she gave my daughter an ugly look for having a melt down.

We were outside and Ocean had just mastered the skill of riding her bike and then Bola, who had just popped up out of nowhere, showed me the time. 8pm - since it is the summer holiday it's not so bad - but he did not want to stay alone outside with the girls … so because I was coming up [to the flat] everyone had to come up. Ocean melted and I sought the safest place for both of us, home.

There had been a woman this afternoon, moving into our block of flats and she had been bashing some of the children with her luggage and rushing past making demands here, there and everywhere. I ignored this to the best of my ability. But then we had an encounter.

Where Ocean was in full on meltdown and my priority was to keep her safe, from judgement or my own harshness that might be brought on by embarrassment. I rushed to the lift where the grumpy woman was standing, aimlessly. I pressed the button and she looked up at my daughter. She pulled an ugly face and I locked eyes with her. I pushed my head forwards in a gesture to say - “yes, there is a situation going on here that is unpleasant for all of us, your judgement is not needed.’ This was unlike me, usually I'd want to say, “Sorry” and explain the situation that caused this meltdown. But I like this way better!

The look on her face immediately transformed and she wore a look of beauty as she smiled. The doors of the lift opened and she collected her things. But then I spoke, “do you want to go and get the next lift,” I said passing her and down she put her things. I pressed the button for my floor and she stood there somewhere between stunned and ashamed, she did not speak until the doors of the lift began to close.

“Yeah, I think.. I think I will.” she said in the smallest voice ever.

“That’s a good idea.”I smiled neutrally.

The doors have closed on that situation and for the first time since becoming a mum, I never once felt the urge to apologise.

Now it might have been the contrasting energy of the woman that made me feel as if I did not owe her a single thing, or it might be the reminder I received from a women’s retreat I recently attended. The reminder is this: women do not need to apologise for occupying space, being who they are and experiencing life the way they experience it. Similarly, Children do not need to apologise or have someone else apologise on their behalf for occupying space, being who they are and experiencing life the way they experience it.

As of today - it is my intention to take up space and show my girls that they can too - unapologetically.


How can you take up space unapologetically?

The first step is knowing you are allowed to be who you are. it is literally your birthright. Secondly, know that the world is still healing from several lifetimes of prejudice and racism and sexism so while you feel into who you are some people will not like it because they're not used to it in a positive way yet. You do you, and they'll have no choice but to get there.

The second step - the practical thing to do is this: stand up for what you believe in, for who you are and for what you choose to do. Stand up for it with a look, dead in the eyes, (deep breaths if you feel nervous) and silence. Say nothing - you do not need to apologise.

When should you apologise?

When you have done something to hurt, mislead or disadvantage someone else with your words or actions. Or when you feel like you want the other person to know that you are sorry for what you had done or said.

You've got this and so do I! I'm excited for this new chapter. #unapologetic

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