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Being Gentle Is Paying Off

In times of hardcore, full on, screaming, thrashing tantrum (Moo, not myself), or when a poo hits the deck for the fifth day in a row, or when there’s permanent marker on the armchair (see photo evidence), it’s hard to remain calm. Deep breath (or ten), get to her level, explain that I feel sad, blah blah. Hard to do when surrounded by red mist (and a destroyed house). And we haven’t always got it right. I’ve raised my voice, snapped, used the word ‘naughty’. But I’ve really tried to be the parent I want to be.

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Gentle parenting takes a lot of patience, patience that I don’t always have. But we’ve stuck at it, day after day, knowing that it’s the way we want to bring up Moo. The results aren’t quick. You wonder if you’re getting nowhere. But you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. You’re helping to shape a human being, it takes slow, steady, time.

My husband once questioned if we were using the right approach. Perhaps some punishment, harsher words, would get the desired effect of her doing what she was asked, would curb some of the inappropriate behaviours. We talked at length about this, it’s important to question and reflect on your parenting. We both came to the same conclusion. Shouting and punishments creates a child that ‘behaves’ through fear of being ‘told off’. You get quicker results. You shout, they fall in line. Tempting when you’ve dealt with the same issues over and over for weeks on end. But that’s not what we want for our child.

It’s a long hard slog being a parent, but there are moments of pure joy, flashes of the future, of the person your child is becoming. On the walk home from preschool, Moo and I talk about her morning there. I get the occasional snippet of information, but mostly conversation about dog poo, ham sandwiches and dew on the grass. But this week she said something that melted my heart:

“A wasn’t very nice today, he was snatching. Next time I’m going to tell him that I’m playing with it, but I’ll help him find something else to play with.”

This. This is why I do what I do. She didn’t suggest he sat on a naughty step alone, or that she shouted at him, or that she snatched it back. She knew that the best way to deal with the problem was with friendship and kindness. I’m not ‘too soft’, I’m not ‘letting her get away with too much’. I’m hoping that my parenting will enable her to be a caring, empathetic, sensitive, compassionate, well rounded human being.

I’m reminded of this quote, which I’ll leave you with. My mind jumps back to it when I feel like giving in and taking the ‘easy’ route.

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And The Mother Of The Year Award Goes To…

Anyone but me.

Today has not been a good day. One of the worst I’ve had in a long time. I’ve got a cold, which doesn’t help, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to become mega shouty monster mum.

My patience has been ice thin. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve snapped. It’s the opposite of what I think a parent should be, how they should react. I’ve not dealt with Moo’s behaviour well at all, I’ve been far from a gentle parent. I’ve sworn under my breath, told Moo she’s naughty and said ‘in a minute’ more times than I can remember. I’ve felt like climbing out of my body at times, feeling totally touched out.

Moo’s not been in a great mood either (probably something to do with getting up at 4am), throwing cups full of drink, throwing dinner on the floor, climbing on furniture, rolling on the floor screaming and slamming doors. But she’s also been very affectionate, giving me a cuddle and sitting on my lap whenever she has the opportunity. I imagine she’s been after reassurance, with me not being myself, and has been acting out her boredom at being stuck in.

I can’t help that I’m feeling rough so can’t do much with her, but I wish I could control my temper better. There isn’t time to even start counting to ten before I’ve exploded. I pity the neighbours today, hearing the screaming, crying and shouting, from Moo and from me. Moo deserves better than the mother I’ve been today. I know we all have bad days and we can’t be Mary Poppins all the time, but shit, I can do better than this.