Joyfully Rejoycing proudly created with Wix.com

© 2019 by Joyce Fetteroll

I am trying so hard not to yell

I want to be a perfect mom...I pray for more patience....

 

Perfection is unattainable. Making a better choice this time is doable.

 

Patience can be like paint over rotten wood. More patience is just a heavier coat of paint. What you need is new wood beneath.

 

Three things will help replace the rotten wood:

 

1) A mental shift in your expectations and how you view your child.

 

A small child sees the world differently. A knocked over glass isn't a mess, it's an experiment in gravity. It's a big reaction to a small action. It's a shiny colorful puddle that may leave a ghost of itself

behind.

 

Get into their world. See what they see. Feel through their needs. What's it like being so small and helpless that you must rely on the indulgence of others for even the simplest things like a glass of water or going to the bathroom.

 

Anger, frustration, lashing out is a desire to control what can't be controlled. It's not healthy to shove down that need and pretend it isn't there. What you need are techniques to let go of the need to control -- like above, but others might have better ideas if you give specific examples. Let go of the expectations that a situation will run a particular way or people will act as you expect or want them to.

 

2) Change the environment rather than focusing on what you can't change: your child.

 

See the child's actions as communication rather than pushing buttons. They may be trying to meet a need, let you know that they have a need, or are frustrated a need isn't being met.

 

Change the environment. The fewer things there are to say no to, the more peaceful the home. And you. And your child.

 

If a child keeps bugging  you, see it as a need he's trying to meet. THEN either find a way they can do it safely and respectfully or find something they can do instead. If a child is writing on the walls, rather than focusing on stopping the wall writing, focus on what they can do instead. Do let them know the wall is a no, but redirect them to what they can do. They aren't being bad, they just have needs they can't figure out how to meet. Put up longs sheets of butcher paper. Find places where they can write on the walls. Put up some wall board. Make sure there are lots of places and things to draw on.

 

3) Be aware of the build up inside you. Get to yourself before you reach the yelling stage. Do something else.

 

If you do 1 and 2 there should be fewer and fewer 3s. But when you feel angry, give your child a hug and think of a specific thing you really love about them. Or change the environment. Distract both of you with something different. Make some change to get you off the path.

 

I read a book that says that children often push your buttons to get you into the ring.

 

That view of children is more likely to steer a mother away from her child -- to remove the buttons from the child's reach -- rather than toward -- helping him meet a need.

 

Why would a child -- why would anyone -- want to push another person's buttons? Think about the situations where that might happen. You might want to push back at someone who was pushing your buttons. You might need attention and your attempts to connect might be seen as irritating, that is, pushing buttons.

 

Don't see it as pushing buttons. See it as communication. Your child doesn't yet know how to tell you what they need. They may not even know what they need. The solution isn't to pull the buttons out of reach but to move in closer and listen.

 

If a child is, day after day, "pushing buttons" my first guess would be they need more connection. Don't wait for them to ask (by annoying you). Connect before they need it. Some kids need more touching and direct interaction than an adult may guess. Children are inconvenient. It helps to let go of the idea of making them more convenient. But we can help them be more joyful by tuning into their (inexpert) communication and either fixing what's irritating them or getting them away from it.

 

If the pushing buttons is a right now thing, go through the most likely things: hungry, tired, antsy and help them move towards joy rather than adding to the irritation.

 

One other possibility. If your child is quite young, he has little power over what happens to him and over his world. So when toddlers find a way to get a big reaction out of a big person, that can be very satisfying for them! The stage won't last long, but key is to not react in a big way. See it for what it is and stay calm. Then do find ways for him to have some power in his world. Give him a snack drawer. Get stools for light switches and faucets. Give him choice over which shirt to wear. Pay attention to what he needs your help with and what he might like to do himself. The more he can do, the less interesting pushing your buttons will be.

 

 

Myself, I am trying so hard not to yell and to let things go.

 

Instead of changing your reactions, change your view. If you can change your view then your emotions can change.

 

What helps a lot is seeing the world through children's understanding of it. Say you're involved in something important to you. Your husband has things he wants you to do and doesn't see what you're doing as important. So he orders you do things that are important to him. Do you react with, "Sure, Sweetie!" or "What the hell?"

 

If we can understand the reasons behind children's actions, then it's easier not to be upset when they aren't doing what we think they should.

 

I don't want to just be there and I don't want to yell.

 

There's a whole world in between those two :-)

 

Give yourself a new role in their lives. Rather than being their director, be their facilitator.

 

You can be with them. You can enter into their world and help them get what they're trying to get and explore what they're trying to explore.

 

If you were watching a favorite movie would you have wanted a parent who ignored you, yelled at you to turn it off, made snide remarks about you watching trash? Or would you have prefered one who sat beside you and talked about the movie as a friend might, sharing what you each like and didn't like about it?

 

It helps to appreciate that they are perfect as who they are right now and not try to focus on them not being what they should be as adults. What I mean by that is that we shouldn't see a 4 yo who hits as signs that he'll be an adult who hits. We shouldn't see it as something that needs trained out of them or they'll be stuck with it. We should see it as perfectly natural for who they are and they need help figuring out better ways to handle their emotions.

 

A sitting 9 mo old isn't destined to be a sitting adult ;-) They will grow and change because it's natural, not because we've trained them to do something else. They may even run a marathon in there, but it won't be because we trained them not to sit ;-) If we trust that kids don't want to be hurtful and just need help gaining the skills to stop themselves and figure out new ways, then it's easier to change the role we take on in their lives.

 

My son is extremely spirited, so am I, so we do clash a lot.

 

Have you read The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene. It's often recommended for challenging children. He also has a YouTube channel with several videos discussing problem solving with kids.

 

The other day I told him that I wanted him to pick up his toys in his room, he opened his bedroom window and started yelling for someone to get his dad and to help him! I hadn't even yelled at him, he just didn't want to clean his room!

 

What if your husband wanted you to reroof the house? What if you knew that if he suggested something that was it, period, there was no getting out of it? He might help you. He might work along side of you. But when he wanted you to do something, he was depositing the burden of the task on your shoulders and you were going to have to get up on that roof and strip it down and nail down new shingles regardless of your feelings about it.

 

Cleaning up seems much smaller than that to us as adults, but from inside kids cleaning up feels like reroofing the house.

 

What if your son didn't like the way you kept your room? What if he came in and told you to put your stuff away in the way he thought it best. The first time it might be amusing ;-) After weeks of his seemingly whimsical demands about how you keep your stuff and your corner of the world that you didn't have the option to ignore, how would you feel?

 

If the room bothers you, then ask if he wouldn't mind if you cleaned it up. Judge for yourself whether you should ask if he'd like to help right now. If he's used to you "asking" when you are really telling him (that is when you "ask" "no" isn't an acceptable answer) then it's not going to sound like a question. Or he may think it's a way to manipulate him into helping.

 

See the task as yours because it's something important to you.

 

We also have a hard time with him acting out because he has asthma and allergies. When they are full swing, he physically can't control himself and he will sometimes get too rough with my 15 month old.

 

Rather than labeling it "acting out" which focuses on the action, look at what he's feeling inside and why he's behaving as he does.

 

Talk to him at calm times about what he's feeling before he gets rough. He needs that awareness of what's going on internally before he can even attempt to figure out how to deal with it.

 

At 4 -- or even at 6 or 10 or 27! -- he may not know what to do so you'll need to go slowly and not pressure him. He may not even realize there's a build up. Ask him if he can pay attention next time. Maybe have him talk about what was going on that led up to it. And ask him about his feelings. Or supply them for him, like "You must have felt frustrated." Don't try to turn it into a lecture on what he should have done. The goal is self awareness so he can help himself.

 

(But of course stop him when he's playing rough! The baby needs to feel that home is a safe place for him. You don't need to be angry. Just firm that hurting isn't allowed.)

 

Learning how to identify feelings is probably like learning how to identify wine. Just as even the most wine-ignorant adults can tell a red wine from a white wine ;-) kids probably have the easy emotions figured out: happy, sad, mad. But the rest get lumped under one of those categories. They need help identifying the nuances. We can help by labeling what they must be feeling. Or labeling what a character on TV or in a book might be feeling in a situation.

 

And talk about other things he could do when he has the feelings coming on. Offer them as help, not in a shaming way that says "I can't believe you did that instead of this." Above all make sure he knows being rough with the baby is not okay. Even better is talking about what might happen in a particular situation and helping him plan ahead on what he could do instead. Don't expect him to act as he planned. It's a learning process. Knowing that keeping the bike wheels moving makes the bike more stable isn't the same as being able to do it. It takes lots of practice before what you know in your head is right becomes second nature.

 

(Sandra Dodd has said when her kids were little she said, "You can hit each other only if first you talk about it, second you get a grown up to help you settle it, and if that doesn't work, THEN you can hit." So when they hit each other, she'd ask if they'd talked about it, and if they'd asked an adult to help. Not done in a shaming way, but as a simple to understand tool.)

 

He will make mistakes. And when he makes mistakes you want him to feel free to come to you for help. If you've made it clear that hurting the baby is not okay and he slips up, it's not because he missed the part about where hurting the baby is not okay and needs reminded. It's because he needs help handling the turmoil of feelings inside.

 

Be there with them and aware as much as you can so you can start noticing the symptoms and help redirect him. If he isn't yet capable of not hurting the baby, then don't leave them alone together. Not as a punishment to say you don't trust him, but because they both deserve to feel safe in their own home. If there were a dog about to bite him, he'd want to trust that you'd be there to snatch him up out of harm's way, not hover in the background and then yell at the dog.

 

 

Joyfully Rejoycing