You’ve read about positive discipline but you feel that isn’t your style. You want things done and followed at home, but you are so used to the only way you know- raising your voice or yelling.
For the gentle parents club, they’d usually start with a calm reminder, keeping that peaceful composure throughout, wait until the child is ready to change his mind and behave back nicely- piece of cake!
But for the not-so-gentle parents, keeping composed is quite a tough challenge. Make it many instances in a day, coupled with your stress, and you’re ready to explode.
Show your child something she doesn't expect. Don’t think- just hold her.
These children are capable of feeling remorse after a terrible tantrum.
Believe me, they will feel miserable after, shocked that they hit their sibling or they threw another fit. Because all they really want is to make it to the good boy / good girl status and be in your arms again, get that attention of yours even just a few minutes in between your typing or cooking or mopping. They will try to get your attention and love but their ways are not always what we'd sometimes call appropriate or proper.
This is what I often tell parents who come to me. Sometimes you don’t have to rack your brain thinking of the best strategy to respond to your child. If the child gets so angry, and you can’t anymore get him to listen, just hold him. You don’t feel like talking it through, you don’t feel like being positive at all as you’re about to be drained? Go get her. Break down together if you must- cry quietly while holding her and acknowledge this difficult time for both of you. And then come back in charge again and acknowledge your child’s emotions, ask what she feels, and tell her you’re upset too, but you both will try again.
Below is a recount from a parent.
One afternoon, the mom asked her then 24-month-old boy to pack away his toys and come up to bed. He pretended not to listen. The mom counted down- repeated herself enough and finally raised her voice telling him threats that he won’t go swimming the next day.
The boy threw his toys and screamed.
The mom was so tempted to yell ‘Stop it!’ but remembered to try interrupting the tantrum- her surprise technique. She took him in his arms instead even when he was wriggling away, kicking her and all.
She held him firm and asked him, are you mad?
And he cried and shook, the anger clearly shown in his face. She held him tight, almost crying herself, and rocked him. Minutes later, he was back to his listening self.
The mom surprised both herself and her boy. And things got better from there.
Acknowledge your parenting triggers
Of course, there will be instances when we’re angry, and it's too late already- we've yelled and said those nasty words, and our child is screaming inconsolably. We’re happy anyway that the tantrums stopped and we get to carry on with the rest of our tasks.
But as the night deepens, our guilt eats us up. So we go by our child’s bed, kissing him gently and whispering our sorry. We're all tired of failing at parenting and being that Monster Mom or Ogre Dad.
But sometimes, we just couldn't help it.
Crazy as it may sound, we all have parenting triggers that will just push us to our limits. And if we are not aware, these triggers will drive how we react to our child’s tantrums.
We cannot say each time that we cannot help it. We seriously need to try to make it better for ourselves and for our child.
Go send yourself to time out. Write your thoughts down. Pray and meditate.Then work on repairing your relationships.
The more you are present and mindful, the less you are to act automatically on your anger.
Silence that script in your mind that says, ‘I can't handle this’, ‘People are staring at us already’, ‘I still have to do so many things’, ‘I never seem to have time for myself’, ‘I'm unappreciated’.
Parenting is really about life-long learning of what will work for you and your family, and then you can be equipped with more choices to handle your child's emotions, and more importantly your own.