“DADDY DON’T DO THAT!” my son screams at his father who was adjusting the fan. “DON’T TOUCH! LISTEN TO ME!”. He even did the eye roll and deep sigh. My boyfriend turned and gave me a disapproving look. Our son was acting just like me.
He’s turning into me. He yells to get his point across, acts sassy and recently started hitting us. I know I have a tendency to yell and lose my cool, my boyfriend even told me I need “to get my emotions under control”, but at times I feel so frustrated everything just boils over. Recently while getting him ready for daycare I found myself getting angrier and angrier by the second because he was doing everything possible but brush his teeth. He was talking, turning the water on and off and fiddling with my hair products and we were running late.
“STOP IT!! BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN?!”
I immediately felt terrible. I felt terrible for getting so angry and screaming at him when I knew I was only setting a bad example which made me feel guilty and like a horrible person and then I started crying hysterically. It’s an ugly cycle. I get upset, scream then feel like crap. And you know what? The screaming doesn't make him “learn” not to do whatever he was doing because he does it again.
I stumbled upon The Orange Rhino about a year ago, but didn't really go through it because it didn't apply to me at the time. I was happy when I found it again. The author, mom to four boys, started a challenge which is now in day 500+ to stop yelling and has found her relationship with her family has improved immensely and she feels better about herself. Her site is incredibly inspiring but it leaves me to wonder, how to I teach my son right from wrong? I can not yell, but I don’t want him to think he can get away with everything. I decided to get a parenting book to teach me some tactics.
I ordered Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham and after the first twenty pages or so I decided to put it down. Based on the introduction and the first few pages I could tell the book was about controlling my emotions and attachment parenting which is something I clearly do not do because my son is in daycare. OK, but then what? How do I get him from throwing his food, spilling his juice and touching the fan? How do I get him to hold my hand when we’re about to cross the street instead of throwing himself down and having a meltdown?
I figured a great alternative to yelling was putting him in time out which is something I already did but maybe not as often as I should have. You hit mommy or daddy? Time out. You throw your food all over the floor? Time out. You spit your juice out? Time out. You throw your toys down in anger? Time out. A couple of weekends ago he spent more time than not in time out while we were in the house. Then he started biting.
I know its normal for babies to bite but for him to start now at almost 2 1/2, when he knows how to verbally express himself and knows that biting hurts seemed alarming. I think the negative energy I walk around with because of my current financial situation and the pressure of having to move has created even more waves of tension and anxiety that I’m passing off to my son.
I get it. My unhappiness and my energy is the reason why my son is acting out. Instead of trying to control his behavior I need to control my emotions and reactions first. I started to feel really bad but then I stopped myself. Feeling bad is fine, for that moment but I have to make changes. Real positive changes because feeling guilty and self loathing will only bring more negative energy toward my son.
I think acknowledging that the problem lies within me and not my typical 2 year old is the first step toward making real progress. For now I will focus on ways to improve my relationships with my son, his father and myself.