Parenting

Guilt

I was complaining to my mother a few weeks ago about how much I had been yelling at my kids, and her response was simply, “You are going to feel that way for the rest of your life. I still feel guilty today.”

That is both depressing and terrifying and I dont want to feel that way.

For the most part I remember my childhood quite fondly, and was good friends with my mom throughout my teenage years and still today. But if there is a way to avoid the blow ups and yelling and dragging across the room by the hair ( I will never let you forget), then I need to learn it now. Rumor has it that adolescents are even more infuriating than 3 year olds.

They may look like angels…

I started reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and he is saying all the right things. He is saying that parenting is hard, really hard, and that we all make mistakes. He is saying our number one job is to love our children and that sometimes the things we do to them make them forget that we do love them.He is saying with an open mind and heart we can change. We don’t have to yell at our children, we have to listen to them. We don’t have to put them in time out to cry inconsolably and forget the reason why, we have to comfort them and explain, show them a better way to do things.

Hindsight is always clearer and it’s so darn difficult in the heat of the moment to remember these things. For example, Mr. 3 poked me in the eye with his toothbrush and did not listen to me in my repeated requests to acknowledge me, brush his teeth, and put on his diaper. He would periodically and with increasing frustration say, “my name is Morgan!”

Well, that is NOT the name I gave him, and in MY increasing frustration I kept not calling him Morgan, which made him not listen to me. Finally I yelled, and then I cried, and then I apologized and said I needed a moment to calm down. Then I realized my mistake, and apologized for calling him the wrong name and I asked him to be patient with me because I had been calling him — for 3 years and it’s hard to stop. He told me he was happy now and we proceeded to read stories and finish getting ready for bed.

I know I have a lot to learn, and lots of patience to build up. I want to try though, because I love my children and I want what is best for them. I want to listen to them, respect them, and teach them some better problem solving skills than I currently possess. I definitely do NOT want to yell at them again as it is bad for everyone involved.

Parenting

1 Small Change

My 3-year-old brought his Safari/Monster Truck into the bathroom with this morning and said something to the effect of, “he’s a bad monster truck. He is mean, he tears the toilet paper and bangs into the door!”

The way Mr. 3 said this made me feel like he was talking about himself, and that he feels like he is a bad or mean person just because he sometimes does bad or mean things.

In that moment I said, “maybe he is just grumpy, and needs a hug. Just because we do mean things doesn’t mean we are mean people.”

Later, as I spent more time thinking about it, I began to think that his attitude is caused by the way I react when he does bad or mean things.

For example, when he pushes his brother I would normally say, “Stop! Do NOT push your brother, that is not a nice thing to do. That is mean! You could hurt or scare him!” I sometimes have even said, “You are being mean to your brother!”.

I would like to change my town and words to reflect his actions, and not his overall attitude. I would like to start saying, “That is not how we do things here. We say, “M– could I have my train back, or ask mommy for help.”

I hope this helps him realize that he is not a bad person. I worry that if he feels like he is a bad or mean person that he will start doing bad and mean things just because he thinks that is what he is supposed to be. A self-perpetuating cycle. I feel that he has been pushing more lately, and I hope that by changing my response we will see a difference in his responses.

I did get this inspiration from the John Holt book, Teach Your Own. I finished reading it, and you can find my review on my other blog.