Sunday, April 10, 2011

Good Mommy/Bad Mommy

So back to my emotional train wreck issue. Discipline. Specifically, disciplining a toddler who understands more than she let's on, but doesn't quite understand enough. My girl is sweet, very loving, spirited, stubborn, independent, sensitive, daring (another story for another time), generous (she's a sharer!), funny, clean (is that even a compliment?), borderline OCD (all doors and drawers must be closed AT ALL TIMES), she never took to lovies, she doesn't play with dolls and stuffed animals, she is much more interested in how something works rather than what it actually does, she's kissable, and oh-so-sweet. Except when she's not.

Let's jump the topic for just a second. Ever read "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother"? Go. Read it. It is not as the critics review it to be. She does not convey the message "my way is better than your way". It's actually an author simply re-telling her story and the reasons behind why she did it. It's part self-deprecating, part humorous, a little heartbreaking and also quite insightful. She is the definition of discipline to an extreme direction. Not something I am in agreement with entirely, but her book, I would definitely recommend to others.

Okay back on. I am not keen on spanking. It's proven to be quite ineffective. They stop doing what they are doing the moment you smack their hands, until they do it again. It also sends the message "it's okay to hit when you're angry". Somewhere I read an article that said "to teach a child that their hitting or biting hurts, is to make them feel it". I experimented a bit because at the time, it made sense, and you know what? It was a really stupid article and I may have permanently scarred us both. Anyway, moving on.

I don't believe you should be the "good parent" at all times. You can't because kids are wired to test boundaries and as someone put it "if you're a lamb parent and your child is a tiger child, he will just eat you alive" or something to that effect. Actually, the person who said this had a story of his own. I don't quite remember it exactly as it was written and I can't seem to find it now so I'll botch it up here in trying to retell it. I'm hoping it's okay as long as the message is understood. It was his own experience with his son at the playground when another child takes away his son's toy and refuses to give it back. The mother of the bully child, upon failing to discipline her child, simply offers to pay off the father for the toy her child snatched away from his son. The father, incredulous, takes his son off to the side and says to his little boy who is crying over the injustice of having is OWN toy taken from him, "Never treat another child the way he just treated you, because you don't want to make another child feel as horribly as you feel right now" as he walked away from what he called the "Lamb Parent" and "Tiger Child" having declined the mother's payoff - much to her embarrassment, I'm sure. I couldn't have said it better.

I am a firm believer in disciplining and directing your children. Even if at times it means a stern scolding and punishment equal to the consequences deserved for the act committed whether that be a time-out, getting all her toys taken away for the entire day, not being able to do the fun thing I promised we would do, or having to leave from a fun place because she is not playing nicely. Now that Jellybean is a toddler, she's no longer my helpless little baby *SOB!*, but she's not yet a child to reason with. It makes it rather difficult to discipline a toddle baby who doesn't understand entirely why what she is doing is wrong. Sure, she knows NOT to do it (and does it again or tries to anyway), but to explain the why is quite tricky. Well, I DO explain the why. She doesn't always know what the explanation means because I have to sum it up in short bursts of "No, Ouch!" or "No, Hot!" or "No, it's going to break" or "No, dangerous" - you get the idea. Not everything can be explained in one to three words. Empathy has not come into full-play just yet which doesn't make it much easier. I realize it's a phase and what has been working is staying calm and patient. She seems to calm down much faster than when she senses I'm getting flustered and agitated. I've succeeded in the last two days (a day at a time!). I don't raise my voice so loud even if I want to holler at the top of my lungs because I foresee a faceplant in the seconds to follow. I haven't punished her, but I have scolded her just enough. It tries your patience to no end and it takes EVERY ounce of self control you may not have even known you had not to lose it when it takes an hour and a half of piercing screaming/crying to get her to finally nap (which in this house has been unheard of until this week!) without reacting to it. However, the reason for the emotional meltdown is not when these things are happening because in the face of it, I'm a soldier. It's the after. After spending a full day of being in COMPLETE and TOTAL control, and she's in snuggled up for the night, I feel like I can burst into flames over something as simple as the coffee machine having run out of water. Maybe I'm taking it harder because in 15 months, she was the poster child who slept through the night since she was 4 months old, napped religiously for 2 hour stretches, went down for the night at 7pm on the dot every night until 7 the next morning, ate (too) well, never needed any form of medication, had two colds in 15 months, never even knew that she was teething aside from excessive drooling and never had an issue with any sort of transitioning. It was smooth sailing for the most part. Does it sound like I'm bragging? I'm not. Honest. I will be the first to admit, I had it pretty easy and was even secretly afraid to ask myself at one point if perhaps it had been too easy. That's not to say it's bad. She's a super happy, healthy, vibrant, and bright baby which is ALL I can wish for and am totally, totally grateful for. I just need some insight in trying to keep my child all those things AND alive because her incredible spirit sometimes poses a serious health risk.

But - BUT! BUT! Look at that FACE, right???

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