Creative Visualization for Parenting: Preventing melt-downs

In September 1988, I was very pregnant. I was feeling melancholy that the great relationship that I had with my first-born was in jeopardy. With the addition of a little sister in one month, she would have to share her mommy and she might take that pretty hard.

So, I was hell-bent on making this time a special time for both of us. There was one problem though. Somehow, over the previous weeks a predictable pattern developed. With lunch, nap and a little of playtime passed, suddenly my sweetypie would melt down. So, at about 3 or 4 pm, we would get into a huge dramatic session that would last for 5 or 10 minutes but felt like hours. Some little thing would set her off, such as: her blocks falling down or not being able to find her ballerina tutu. And she would yell bloody murder inconsolably, and everything I said made it worse. I would get upset. She would cry, gasping, tears streaming, then finally wear herself out. By 4:30, when it was time for me to cook dinner as she watched Sesame Street we were both wiped out.

Forget that crap about ‘savoring our special time.’

Coincidentally, I’d just started reading a book called Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. I’d picked up the book at a used book sale at the Left Hand Grange in Niwot months earlier. It dawned on me that since nothing else worked, I might as well try what I was reading about.

So, I began trying to visualize our daily routine without the meltdown. But, the funny thing was, every time I ran through our day in my head, it kept ending up with the meltdown at the same time. I recalled that Shakti had warned to not be surprised if you can’t even imagine a solution, at first. Keep trying. And I did.

After a dozen tries, I finally came up with a meltdown-free scenario. It involved sitting down with her around 2 pm and saying, “How about playing a board game?” And in my imagination, she agreed enthusiastically, and we played. Then around 3 pm, still imaginary, she wanted to play outside. She played outside, mostly, running in and out cheerfully, until 4:30 when she was ready to watch Sesame Street.

The next day, at around 2 pm, I asked her, “How about playing a board game?”…and the rest of the afternoon went exactly as imagined. What was cool about this was that day after day, this worked! We didn’t get bored (board haha), as we had many choices. Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and other thrilling choices.

I do believe this was one of the first times that a ‘self-help’ book actually helped me solve a problem so directly.

By the way, when little sister arrived, they hit it off splendidly. Just as I imagined they would!

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