Thursday, June 21, 2012

How To Not Lose It With Your Kids

How could anybody ever get upset at this angel?  
Let's be honest here.  Sometimes your kids will drive you to the brink of insanity.  Like take about two seconds ago when Ivy announced - "I have to go potty!"  So I say "Well then go potty!"  (She's 4 and has been potty proficient for a year.)  "I have to go potty!  I have to go potty!" accompanied by jumps and hops.  "Just go!!!!" I say {shout}.  "Light on!  Light on!"  "You know how to turn the light on! Just go!"  "Mama I have to go potty!"

Do you get my drift?

I won't replay any of our more hair-pulling-out moments.  Sometimes I really feel like I'm going to lose my cool.  Actually, it's getting hot in here is more like it.  Here are a few tips for not totally losing it with your kid:

1) Take your "I absolutely don't want to do this parenting technique" thing off the table from day one.  We took spanking off the table before Ivy was born.  Therefore, it's not an option.

2) Just walk away.  Some people may call this "count to 10" or something.  Whatever you call it, unless danger is imminent, let the moment hang while you be somewhere else.  Everything can be resolved when you feel like coming back.

3) Learn to let go of some things.  Ask - In the scheme of things, does this one annoying or undesirable behavior really matter??  My child won't eat vegetables.  We've decided not to have a battle of wills about that one.  She won't die from lack of vegetables. I don't want her to have memories of us fighting over food at the dinner table.

4) Read books about what to do.  Be an active, informed parent.  There are people who write and do research about this stuff and - gulp - know some stuff to help out us in-the-trenches parents.  You may not agree with it, but at least read something and go from there.  I've gotten some great ideas from 1-2-3 Magic and Scream-Free Parenting.... like not allowing your child (or spouse's) behavior to control your emotions, using 1-2-3 timing, and using a timer to ensure chores get done.

5) Think about what your parents did and what you see other parents doing, and evaluate - do I want to do that, or do I want my kids to have a different experience?  Act accordingly.

6) I do not advocate yelling but admit that I sometimes yell when other techniques seem to not be working.  Some people use a 'pop' as an attention getter.  I use a yell to mean business or to grab attention.  Sometimes I'm still not louder than the kids are being.

7)  If you do lose your cool - do something you regret - be human to your child and apologize for it.  Not the "I'm sorry I yelled but you deserved it" apology but the "I yelled at you and I'm sorry, I shouldn't have done that."  Next time the situation arises, maybe you'll take a different path you won't have to apologize for.

8) This may be the hardest of all, but try to get on the same page as your spouse.  I have no insights about this other than to continually discuss it.  Even if you talk about it before you even have kids, each parent brings their own opinions and baggage to the table and you have to always examine and unpack it, plus decide and agree on common approaches to be consistent.  It's tough.  Kids are brilliant.  They will take any gaps between their parents and exploit them!

9) Look at your child as they are yelling 'no' at you and remember how much you love them.  If it helps, have a 'happy time' that you replay in your memory when the going gets though and they have told you 'no' or not listened to you for the one millionth time this hour.

10) If all else fails... well, I've never gotten to this point personally but if steps 1-9 aren't workin' for you, reach out and get some help.

<3 mb

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