Your kids are crying, so you tell them to stop. Or, your kids are laughing so you tell them to stop, not because you don’t want them to laugh, but because you don’t want them to cry, which usually happens about .87 seconds after they start laughing. Or your kids are shouting gleefully and you tell them to stop, not because you don’t want them to have fun but because you don’t want them to cry which usually happens 1.35 seconds after they start shouting gleefully. Or your kids are running around having fun so you tell them to stop, not because you don’t want them to have fun and use up their energy, but because you don’t want them to cry…see where I’m going with this?
Or, your kid spills something and you let out an exasperated sigh, not because she spilled something, but because you assume she’s going to cry about it, make it into the biggest deal in the world. Because that’s what she does. But she hears your sigh and then uses that to cry over, possibly tying the two together in a way you didn’t mean. “When I spill things, I exasperate mommy.” Which isn’t true, only it looks like it is. Even an adult would connect the two because no one is a mind reader.
That’s important to remember. No one is a mind reader. Not even you.
Try to break yourself out of the habit of “cutting things off at the pass” or “nipping things in the bud.” If it’s been a while, your kids might surprise you by acting like normal human beings with just minimal guidance in a way they would have six months ago. But they’re not going to get that chance, nor are they going to learn to handle their emotions / business by themselves if you intercede before they’ve even had a chance to figure out what’s going on.
And if you’re interfering with a negative mindset, they are, of course, going to react to that, just as much, if not more than they would have reacted badly to the original scenario in the first place.
I just figured out I was doing this myself this week, after the girls blissfully went to kindergarten, giving me a half second to be out of the situation and view it objectively. I think by giving them the benefit of the doubt, they are learning valuable coping skills that I was blocking from them previously simply because I could not with them any more.
If you assume the worst of your kids, even if they have given it to you in the past, you’ll never get a chance to see the best.