Last night I had to get some last minute Christmas gifts for my kids’ teacher aides. So naturally, I went to where all last minute gifts can be found: the local Starbucks. I shopped the displays until I found the most perfect packages of chocolate covered graham crackers, and the most sparkling gift card I could find. I paid for my purchases, and headed back to my car. A commotion to my right diverted my attention away from my destination, and I turned to look. A woman was screaming at someone in her minivan. From the way it sounded, I thought at first it was a homeless woman yelling at her mate, both completely drunk. The brake lights were flashing, obviously from whoever sat in the driver’s seat that was teasing the screaming woman. Upon closer inspection, though, it became painfully obvious what was really going on.
This was another case of a frazzled mom right before the holidays.
A boy of about 9 sat in her seat in the van, pushing her buttons, along with all the buttons in the van. She stood there screaming at him to get in his seat while he either ignored her or screamed back. Nothing was getting accomplished, I could feel the tension coming over myself as I’m sure she was consumed by it.
I tell you, though I haven’t been in this identical situation, I definitely have a defiant child, and have done the crazy mom routine. I have screamed, punished, spanked, timed out for eternity, screamed some more, and caused my head to spin round and round like the excorcist. Well, needless to say, all that resulted in more defiance, and more stress on me. And extreme dislike for my son, who obviously was the one with the problem!
Troubles with my son finally came to a head and I had no choice but to take him back to the counselor we’ve been seeing for a little while. I had a whole list made out of problems I wanted fixed in him. And I had definite expectations about how the counseling session would be, my validation being first and foremost. Imagine my surprise when the counselor took me in the room by myself, and told me what things I needed to change in myself. What? But he’s the one with the problem! Not me!
Well, this is still a work in progress, and one that I am still developing as my second nature, but the screaming and out of control behavior in ME has subsided. In its place is a quiet and calm voice and demeanor, a hug or a hand on the back, a validation for HIS feelings, and awareness that he is only 5 (and in some ways even younger), and needs the chance to learn certain skills in good behavior before he can master them and abide naturally by them. Consequences are given calmly with love, with the promise that when he decides to change his behavior, he can cease the consequence himself. As a result, my son is less defiant, and more willing to crumple into me for comfort when he is royally frustrated. I am less stressed, and remembered that I actually DO love my son with every fiber of my being. Of course, I do still slip up in this process, and so does he. But it’s much better than it was before.
When I saw that woman screaming at her child, and her child screaming back at her, my first desire was to give that woman a big hug. Obviously she was burnt out. And then I wanted to tell her to start over, hug her son, and calmly tell him to please get in his seat, and that when they got home, maybe he could help her make dinner, if he wanted to. I could tell she wasn’t a bad mom, just a mom without the right tools to get her son to abide. Instead, I said a quick prayer and got in my car. Unsolicited advice is sometimes worse than the right advice, and it wasn’t my place, and I wasn’t asked for my opinion on the situation. Instead I am writing down my unsolicited advice here in my own space.
Love your child. Forget spanking. Forget yelling. Forget threats, especially the empty ones. Your child knows you won’t follow through. Be the example you want them to follow, and you will have a happy family and a home filled with love!
10 Steps to Positive Parenting
· Show love and affection.
· When necessary, take time to cool down.
· Compliment your child.
· Set basic rules and limits.
· Develop a set of shared meanings, values, and goals.
· Introduce your child to books.
· Listen and talk to your child.
· Be the kind of person you want your child to be.
· Offer guidance.
· Tell your child “I love you” each and every day.
10 Steps to Teach a Child Discipline
· Teach and model self-control by your example.
· Set routine for bedtime, meals, and chores.
· Explain reasons for your rules.
· Let your child help make rules.
· Let your child help decide consequences for broken rules.
· Try to understand your child’s feelings.
· If your child breaks a rule, control your anger.
· If you lash out, apologize.
· Compliment your child often.
· Tell your child “I love you” each and every day.
10 Steps to Cool Down
· Take a deep breath. And another. Then remember you are the adult.
· Close your eyes and imagine you’re hearing what your child is about to hear.
· Press your lips together and count to ten. Or better yet, to 20.
· Exercise to release tension.
· Phone a friend.
· If someone can watch your child, go outside and take a walk.
· Take a hot bath or splash cold water on your face.
· Turn on some music, maybe even sing along.
· Drink a glass of cold water.
· Tell you child “I love you” each and every day.
Found at The Parent Center.