Patience is not a virtue that I come by naturally…or sometimes at all. Aside from being innately stubborn, I also tend to have a hot temper. It usually takes a lot of pushing for me to explode, but lately that nudging is coming in an adorable, just-as-pig-headed package: our 2 1/2-year-old son.
I know it’s “just the age.” I know he’s “all boy.” I know I have incredibly high standards sometimes, which I have upheld my students to and now find myself upholding my son to. Plus, given that he definitely inherited my stubbornness, a battle can brew in no time. It just sucks, and it’s even harder to admit it here to the whole world. But, sometimes we can’t learn until we talk it out. Thanks for listening.
More often than not, I have been surprisingly calm and have been able to transition into the next activity with relative smoothness. But, yes, explosions happen. I feel absolutely awful when they do. It often takes so much to get into his head as to why something is wrong and he screams out of simple opposition (for the sake of disagreement, with no other real reason) so much that I find myself yelling just to get him to HEAR what I’m saying. I’m ashamed of it, and the last thing I ever want is to hurt him, but the fact that it only works one time out of ten means that I have to find another way. And, at times, my husband even succumbs to the temptation of yelling, as well; I feel myself and my disciplinary ways being transferred onto an otherwise incredibly gentle, quiet-hearted man. It hurts in so many ways.
See, I’m a proud part of a community of parents who believe in attachment parenting and gentle discipline. I agree wholeheartedly with most of the ideals behind these types of parenting. It’s probably what has helped me to learn how to deal thus far without CONSTANT yelling. But, I’ve decided that, for all our good, I should delve further into ways to lessen the stress, disagreements, and ultimate shouting matches that are, at times, more the norm than the exception at our otherwise joy-filled house.
We don’t hit our son, including spanking. Admittedly, I’ve thought about it, but we resolved long ago that this wasn’t in our parenting arsenal (at least when he doesn’t understand the reason and it’s out of utter embarrassment and shame). One of the issues we’ve had bubble up is that he hits us (not hard) when he can’t verbalize his anger, sometimes frequently. The last thing we want is to continue the trend — “If Mommy spanks me, it’s okay to hit.” It’s not. There are better ways.
The parenting articles at Green Child Magazine (which I’m proud to write for, by the way!) help get my mind in the right place. There is one particularly about the issues that come with parenting a younger child that it striking SO many chords with me right now. The fact that our guy is currently dealing with the ones/twos/threes&fours issues all at once? Glorious. At least, it’s awesome to have this article right now to tell me that a) it’s completely normal, b) there are developmental reasons for it, and c) there are ways to cope. *deep breath*
Another talks about natural consequences, which I thought I was doing well – but now realize that there are times that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. Also, Making Time-Outs Positive? Genius. I have always wanted to do time-outs this way, but unfortunately the threat of a time-out has become a negative thing (yet, at times, has worked quite well…crap). I’m hoping that we can adapt this and turn things around with H, although I’m not sure if the damage has already been done. I try to say, “Do you need a time-out to help you calm down?” but…yeah…still negative. Fingers crossed on this one!
Most of these changes affect our little guy a lot, but are more so changes that Dave and I need to make for ourselves as parents. Ways that we handle things, choices that we make. A few of the changes involve positivity (like the time-out situation). This article on creating mindful parenting moments helps me to remember that diversity in experiences and getting out of the “what toy do you want to play with now?” rut and into the “let’s do something creative/different” mindset is good for all of us. Oh, and that “breathing awareness” thing? We do use that. We often sing Daniel Tiger’s “When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath…and count to four.” He even does the hand motions for counting that they do on the show. But, we’ve made it “our own” and when he’s bursting into tears (which is kind of rare; his tantrums are usually rage-motivated), we hug it out and breathe together. Definitely helps for everyone involved.
A final thing that I know we’re dealing with is the glut of toys and stuff. We may not have as much as other kids (since we try to keep that to a minimum…doesn’t always work at his birthday and holidays), we still have MORE than plenty. I haven’t done a great job at keeping up with simply going through all of his things and storing (or donating) ones not used regularly. He is a big “dump toys, move on to another dumping of toys without playing with a single one, then move to the next” offender. I’m working with him to pick up before moving onto the next thing (which works a little bit), but it definitely shows that he probably has too many things for his own good. This simplification article definitely reminds me that it’s time to purge.
Another website that I love for just this particular issue is The Orange Rhino. Funny name, I know, but it is completely about parenting without yelling at your children. Appropriate, right? While I’m not sure if I want to take the challenge (I’m already “challenging” myself with the real food thing right now; I’d rather have some methods to adjust my thinking than anything else), there are some good tips on the site and great take-aways. They particularly have a trigger tracking worksheet that makes me consider doing that for a day or two. 😉
Okay. So, now that that’s all out there, I’d like to publicly admit that we’re going to work to alleviate this issue as much as we can. We’re trying out “green/yellow/red light” method and I’ll be sure to check back on how it goes.
I realize that, while a lot of it is the sheer nature of the toddler right now, much more has to do with how I/we react. While patience is something that most people are born with (or not), I’m hoping to be much more active in the moment in order to find that touchstone of patience within, then transfer it to the situation…and, ultimately, to our son.
What parenting issues have had you tearing your hair out? Do you consider yourself a patient parent? Am I the only one that can reach the end of their rope from time to time?