I cannot tell you the number of friends and family members I have who just adore Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Of course, they're the same ones advising me (unsolicitedly, of course) to spank, ignore, and control my child. Blech. As such, I get her gems coming through my newsfeed from time to time, as they "like" her malarkey. Most recently, I came across this beaut:
Wow. How compassionate of her and the scads who like, comment, and share. Heaven forbid we think about what our children are going through, what is the root of their (arguably) unseemly behavior, as opposed to thinking of how their actions are affecting our precious selves.
Now, we all have our triggers. For me, it's whining. I am a tantrum champ, but whining can give me an instant eye twitch. It's my job, though, to deal with my feelings and issues, consider the cause of the whining, and act with love and empathy. I'm the adult. I am to be the one in control of myself (or at least more so than a developing child).
Sure, I screw up sometimes. I'm human. When I screw up because I've allowed myself to be triggered, I apologize, rectify, and work harder for the future. Not surprisingly, when my son is triggered by something and ends up whining or throwing a tantrum (not frequent occurrences, but certainly, at four years old, they happen), he apologizes, rectifies, and works harder for the future. Huh. Imagine that.
Also, not surprisingly, when I have been in a bad mood or been on the verge of a virtual breakdown due to, oh, I don't know, I'm an adult, so I don't have to explain my reasons any more than you do - only children have to have reasons that we deem acceptable and understandable - my son displays empathy toward me. In his own ways and words, he lets me know that he loves me, that's he's there for me, that he'll listen if I want to talk and give me space if I don't. Modeling compassion works.
Modeling compassion works, as does modeling cruelty. Don't be surprised if you demonstrate mercilessness when your child experiences big feelings at inopportune (for you) times and they turn around and demonstrate the same to you and others. It's just that simple. Perhaps it's not easy, but it is simple.