(To steal even MORE blatantly from Her Bad Mother.)
I was going to write a post about how Flora’s whinging makes me postal right after I bitched about Kate’s potty regression.
Now, Catherine and I have very different reactions to the whinge, the whine, the drillbit in the middle of the skull that is a young child’s high-pitched demands: Catherine, who is mild-mannered and doesn’t like to show her anger, feels bad for being angry at her child for whining. Which is pretty understandable — let’s face it: kids whinge; as one commenter put it: it’s in the operating manual. Why be angry about something one can do nothing about? I, on the other hand, don’t feel bad for being angry, but I do try to temper it and not yell. (I’m pretty sure I cannot be described as ‘mild-mannered’.)
The trick I usually try is asking Flora (or either of the girls, really, although Flora is the bigger offender) to say it in a normal voice. It usually works. It’s when I have to ask three (four, five, TEN) times in a row that I start to lose it.
Another commenter offered the trick of not understanding Whinese. I’m totally using that one. (Probably soon.)
I probably don’t need to add (yet here I go!) that pregnancy hormones and fatigue make this whole enterprise even more challenging than usual. Oh, how I have barked at my children in the past month-six weeks.
I will admit that my patience is far more tried by Kate’s potty issues than with whining (for now), but the other thing I am telling myself in that regard is that some of these behaviors (whinging, potty regression) could be, may be, attention-seeking behavior. And blowing my stack simply reinforces the behavior because ANGRY attention is still attention.
Last night, I blew up at the very end of the night before bath time. To the point that both girls burst simultaneously into tears (and I was only really yelling at Flora; mother of the year, right here).
I called them both to me, and we all hugged on the couch. And I explained my anger, explained why I had yelled.
“Do you know why I yelled?” I asked Flora. She cried a little more instead of answering.
“I yelled because you told me no, again,” I said. The saying “no” to me is another big trigger point. “We had a deal. You got your show before your bath; you just had two or three snacks while you were watching, and now it’s time to do what I asked you. I said yes to you; now you have to say yes to me.”
I think she got it, I do. While on one hand I don’t think our children need to be sheltered from emotions, I do think we have, as parents, a duty to explain emotions, especially the ones that scare our children. When I cry in frustration or sadness, I have to tell them about my frustration or sadness. When I yell, I have to explain my reasons.
And, of course, we adults should not be ruled by our emotional impulses, the way kids are. Instead of just blowing up, we can say, “I am starting to get angry at the way you are acting.” Then we and our children can reframe our next move. Sometimes, it’s walking out of the room; sometimes it’s asking a child to go to her room; sometimes it’s even introducing a moment of levity (for example, whinging back at my kids makes them giggle like crazy). It’s teaching ourselves and our children to take a deep breath before plowing on.
What makes you crazy as a parent? As a person? What do you do about it? Are you dismayed by your responses or encouraged?