I was reading Good Golly Miss Holly‘s story about not wanting to be a mum who yells and it hit a nerve, recently I’ve been thinking about how I discipline Aidan and if I was going the right way about it. You see my mum has looked after babys and toddlers for as long as I can remember and in a way she’s given me a valuable education on how to entertain, educate and communicate with toddlers. Most of the time I try to put into practice what I’ve learnt:
- Keep a routine
- Plan Activities
- Rotate Toys
- Assign Regular Duties
- Speak to him at his eye level
- Ask him to be helpful/participate
- Positive reenforcement
- Everything is educational
- Accentuate your words
- Use instructional words: “stop/listen/etc”
- Explain… everything
The thing is, sometimes my reaction to negative behaviour isn’t so textbook, sometimes it’s like I have no control and let my emotions run the show. I’ll explain and explain and explain and demonstrate and explain some more but it doesn’t sink in, most of the time it’s little things like holding my hand when walking along a busy road or picking up his toys before he goes to sleep.
It’s not even his behaviour so much, it’s the frustration and lack of patience after explaining the same thing for what feels like the millionth time. My teeth clench, my eyes get squinty, my voice deepens, my lungs fill with air from all the deep breathing and all I want to do is scream out loud, I feel like a live wire. So I shout. Venting my frustrations I feel a release… followed instantly by guilt and the knowledge that I didn’t achieve anything other than showing Aidan exactly how to tick me off, something he will inevitably repeat.
He looks at me like a deer in headlights, he knows he’s pushed me over the edge and reins it in. I quickly try to recoup my position, raise the pitch of my voice so it’s sweet and try to explain my point in another way, trying another angle, anything to come back from my little shouty bad parenting moment of shame. He’s trying to assert his independence all the while trying to learn and understand the world we live in, I have to remember we’re both frustrated and cranky.
It’s in our nature to fight and be passionate, I don’t want him to be totally passive but I don’t want him to think that shouting and aggressive behaviour is something that’s ok, especially about something as small as toys not being put away. Unfortunately I’m not always leading by example. To counteract the guilt my selfish side kicks in, I’m just learning to be a parent, it’s still new at this, I can’t be accountable for everything… but deep down I know I am accountable, everything I do leaves an imprint, an impression on his life.
The shouting I hated so much was my issue, not Aidan’s. He didn’t wake up in the morning thinking of infuriating situations to make me put my shouty pants on. He was the one who had to deal with how I was expressing myself. Sure, I felt better for a nano second but I was leaving him feeling scared/worried/nervous/angry/etc. I needed to wake up and think of ways not to shout in the moment, a way to bundle up those pent up emotions and get them out without hurting anyone… so I started playing SingStar again.
I know, you’re probably sitting there thinking “WTF” but it’s already working. During nap time when the house is calm, the boy is snoozing and the laptop is closed I pop in a disc, shut out the world and concentrate on the music… I escape. I belt out tunes (somewhat slightly off key) and I can feel it in my veins, the way my heart pumps to the rhythm and how the the hairs on my arms feel electric.
I feel the release and I’m transported back to high school, standing in front of the school assembly. My hand clenched on the microphone, eyes closed with a smile on my face as I basked in the spotlight. I wasn’t perfect but I had the goods, some even said talent and I was supported in my dream of singing and I love it.
The same goes for my parenting, sometimes I hit a bum note but deep down I know I’m a good Mumma and that even on those bad days where it feels like the whole day has been off key, I know I have it in me to get it right next time and until I do I know I have the support of my husband, my family and my friends but most importantly…
… the unconditional love of my son.