You love your toddler, but lately, he seems to do everything in his power to make you lose your $%@#. It feels like she’s out to push every button imaginable — and buttons you didn’t even know existed! Let’s put the shame out of being “that parent”, ’cause quite frankly many of us are far from being the parents we planned. We are far from being the parents we filled our book shelves with and we fail to be the embodiment of love, peace and gentleness we really want to be.
If you precious baby is now a small loud active jumping squealing adventurous 4 or 5 year old, you have caught him in “the act” in the last 24 hours — more than you’d like!!
I thought of this article while I found my son had ripped the wallpaper off the wall in his room, scribbled monsters and robots on the remaining wall paper and stuffed popcorn in the walker. My daughter snuck into the laundry room and tossed ALL of the detergent in the tray and on the floor and I was about to snap! Why, OH why, is it SO hard for them to do independent activities in their room or in the play area without sneaking off to explore the house and get up to shenanigans that quite frankly drive me and my husband up a wall?
The short answer is, kids need to explore the world, they need to find out why, how, and where things work, break and fold. They need to go through this process of curiosity and defiance. They are testing the boundaries. This time is going to test every bit of you.
Spanking, berating, and exclaiming “Look what you made me do” are almost instinctive reactions. You are not alone. If your knee-jerk reaction is to punish unwanted behavior with a spank, tap or screaming, you are NOT alone in this. Despite your best intentions, the fact remains that if you were spanked as a child, you are more likely to “go there” than parents who never experienced any of that as children. Please stop berating yourself!
If you want to be a gentle violence-free parent, you are going to have to deal with the past. I don’t mean revisit and dwell on how you felt — though it helps to remind yourself of WHY you don’t want to habitually use corporal punishment with your kids. I mean acknowledge that you went through it, and realize that your present behavior is a product of the tools you were given by your own parents.
The first step is admitting that you have this pattern, a learned pattern, and that your reactions are habits, not instinct. This is where you are going to start becoming more aware of your own parenting style. The things you do now as a parent are your tools, and you have received them from the adults in your life.
So, how do you break free from the urge to spank your child?
Here are some tips to use:
- Calm down first: When you feel like you are losing your $%#@ — step out & find a place to calm down. Count to 10 — or 100 if you need — deal with the situation AFTER you have calmed down. Unless there is immediate physical danger to one of your kids, do not handle the matter yet. You can also help yourself be in a calmer frame of mind by using essential oils. Lavender and Stress Away really help me stay mellow during the day, so I diffuse them in my office daily. You can get them here.
- Re-focus: Change how you see the situation by changing your focus. Switch from “being in the situation” to becoming an observer. It will help you take emotional distance and keep a cool head. What I usually do is look at my kids and start by saying, “I see you pulled the wallpaper. Were you wondering what was behind it?”. This also helps to get your child’s attention in a positive, non-threatening way.
- Know your “buttons”: Pay close attention to things that really piss you off. The stronger your emotional response to something the harder it is for you to actually stay calm. I have that with things involving the toilet and trash. I lose it when my kids play in the bathroom. I get extremely upset because I have a strong disgust of germs. All I can think of is “Ewww Ewww, don’t touch me, Why do you do that??” And I quickly go to a place where I feel like they are doing this to me, getting germs close to themselves and me. I get quite irrational. I’m aware of this so with my husband’s help we tag team in (or out). Knowing that you can’t handle something well yet, and stepping away from the situations helps you to process it, not inflict violence on your child and it has helped me also deal with my reactions.
- Pace yourself: Understand that breaking the cycle of violence is a process, there are no overnight cures. You will get as much out of it as you are willing to put in. So, do make an effort to wind down and become the boss over your emotions rather than your kids. You might want to consider doing workout that helps you connect with your inner peace — like Yoga, Jogging, Swimming or whatever else you enjoy.
Do whatever you feel that works to help you become more centered. One of my favorite parenting books that helped me understand how to discipline my kids is Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline by Dr. Becky Bayley. I highly recommend it to ALL parents, expecting parents, grandparents and even educators.
It is based on scientific research on how the brain works and learns. And how you can go through the process of dealing with your own upbringing. I also love that it helps you learn 7 Principles of Love that will guide you as you become a gentle parent. My favorite part of this book is that it aligns so perfectly with how Jehovah God and Jesus discipline and instruct us. It actually encouraged me to do an indepth study of the Bible and reflect on how the Bible describes God, as a loving Shepherd. Reflecting on that has helped me realize that the rod, often quoted, is guidance and coaching.You can purchase the book on Amazon here.
Next time I am going to discuss how to coach your children, changing your view of parenting may prove very powerful! Imagine what your days would be like if you approached is as a coach rather than a police or punisher!!
I’m here for you when you need a pep-talk to keep your calm when all hell breaks loose. Just stop by my Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/RockYourPower[beth]