Destiny Bennett, 29, had a choice to make when her 5-year-old son, Cash, was experiencing a meltdown: Lose her cool, or try to reason with her emotional son. Even though she felt frustrated, she chose to try to talk it out. What followed got captured in a now-viral video that Bennett said shows the power of conscious parenting.
"I knelt down at the door and was like, 'OK, let's have this talk,'" the Las Vegas mom told TODAY Parents. "'Because mommy is on the verge of tears right now and I need to level with you.'"
In the video, which was captured by the Bennett family's door camera and has since been shared more than 28,000 times on TikTok, Bennett can be seen kneeling so that she's at eye level with her son.
"I can see how angry you are, and I want you to feel better," Bennett says to him. "Sometimes feeling better is getting the things that we want, but sometimes we can’t get the things we want. And it’s OK to be angry, but then we have to be able to let it go and understand that we’re not going to get it and we have to find another way to make our body feel better."
Bennett then tells her son that she loves him before he falls into her arms and gives her a hug.
"A lot of people will come to me and tell me I have so much patience and that I'm an angel," Bennett said of her poise in that moment. "But I'm not. I still have my moments when I lose it and I have to come back to my kids and apologize and let them know that I’m having a bad day too."
Bennett, who has three children ages 3, 5, and 8, said the meltdown was a result of a fight over Legos. Her children are obsessed with Legos, she explained, and while they share the majority of their Lego collection, there are a few "special pieces" they can claim for their own. Bennett provides her children with special boxes, and if they want to play with a specific Lego piece they have to put that piece into their special box to let their siblings know that, for the day, it belongs to them.
"My oldest ended up putting some unique piece in his box that my 5-year-old wanted, and so it started out with an argument," she recalled. "I went over to try to talk it through, and explain to my 5-year-old that this is a rule that we agreed on as a family."
Bennett said her children are usually able to understand specific outcomes after they're explained to them, but this time, Cash didn't want to let it go.
"He's a very emotional child and sometimes logic just ... goes out the window," she said. Cash started to stomp his feet, grunt and pace around the house. Bennett began going through her arsenal of calming techniques, asking her son if he wanted her to hold him, if he wanted to meditate, or if he wanted to go to the calming corner. Nothing worked.
"I found myself getting frustrated because I knew he was having a right brain moment — it was all emotion, no logic," Bennett said. "There was no reasoning with him."
In need of a break herself, Bennett suggested the pair go on a walk — something Cash enjoys doing. Still, the 5-year-old remained upset. He threw a toy and slammed the door before walking outside. That's when Bennett realized she had a choice to make. She said that even though her "blood was boiling," she decided to kneel down to her son's level and have an honest conversation with him about how he was feeling.
"It's hard, especially when you don't come from a background or family that chooses this style of parenting," Bennett said. "I come from a family where if you're angry, you would yell or scream — very old-fashioned. So this has been difficult."
Bennett, author of the book "Revised Not Repeated: A Brown Mom's Guide to Breaking Generational Curses in Parenting," said that when her kids first started to act out, she had no idea how to respond. Then she learned about "conscious parenting" — a parenting style that encourages parents to practice mindfulness and use meditation, self-reflection and other tools to guide their parenting decisions.
One 2009 study suggested that parents using the conscious parenting model can improve the "quality of parent-child relationships" and will experience a "fundamental shift in their ability and willingness to truly be present with the constantly growing and changing nature of their child."
"The more I learned (about conscious parenting), the more I had to put in a full effort to practice, because if I didn't practice it wasn't going to happen," Bennett said. "It's a journey. It's my journey. It's my kids' journey."
"Some people who are just starting with conscious parenting expect an overnight change for themselves and their children," Bennett continued. "So when a moment goes wrong, they automatically think they can't do it. I think people need to realize that snapping ... is all part of growth. If you feel guilty that you didn't respond the way you wanted to, you're already on the road to growing into the parent you want to be."