This comes from psychologist and parenting author Alyson Schafer.
It's been on my mind for a few weeks since she mentioned it on Twitter.
Schafer said that children have "mirror neurons" - wee synapses in the brain that read the emotions and stresses on our faces, and sort of take them on as their own.
It's something I've been trying to think about in my interactions with the kids. I've had mixed success, of course: I don't know many things that are harder work or more patience-trying than some of those long evenings with the kids. But I've been trying to repeat the phrase "mirror neurons" in my head when I'm responding to a meltdown or a complete refusal of dinner. Sometimes those two words help me to realize my forehead is all crumpled up in consternation. Lots of times I forget and respond more emotionally than I should.
Maybe I'll write the words "mirror neurons" as a message to myself on the kitchen blackboard, next to the grocery lists and phone messages. Because it's pretty much as important as remembering to pick up a bag of milk.