Thanks SO much to everyone who weighed in and shared their opinions last week about these #WednesdayPlayday posts! I love a chance to talk parental shop and will work to incorporate more activities so thanks for the virtual high-five to keep these posts coming!
Today? Today I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit on anger. Specifically, with your kids, when do you feel like your anger is too much (or not enough)?
For those of you who manage to discipline with a Zen-like calm, look to your left and CONTACT ME. For the rest of you, let’s discuss.
I have three children old enough to get angry with. (Louisa turns 1 next week so she’s off the hook.) Maybe it’s just me, but in our house, there are categories of anger:
CATEGORY A: KID-centric ANGER
You Broke Something anger
You Hurt Someone anger
You’re Being Defiant anger
You Broke a Rule anger
You’re Not Listening anger
You’re Not Ready anger
You’re Being Annoying anger
CATEGORY B: MOM-centric ANGER
I’m Tired anger
I’m Distracted anger
I’m Worried anger
I’m Using the Bathroom anger
I’m Making a Meal anger
It’s 5:45 a.m. anger
I’m On the Phone anger
Am I the only one who has days when I go to bed worried that my temper explains EVERY conflict my kids have with each other? “Oh… well that’s why Oliver must yell so much… and THAT’s why Eleanor stomps around the house…and THAT? Well, that’s why Martha grabs stuff from her siblings.”
Here’s the Catch-22/ irony of it all (can it be both?)… I am raising these kids to be independent thinkers. Confident communicators. I WANT them to chart their own course… and I guess that includes challenging me sometimes? (Oh… also… I don’t want them to be ruling this roost. They outnumber me so some degree of authority is a necessity!)
Like every other minute of parenthood, it’s a nuance, huh? A fine line between mutiny and submission. Discipline and losing control. Raising your voice and screaming.
I think it’s really important for our kids to know we’re in charge and call the shots, but I don’t want them to go along with everything they are told in life. Being able to stand up for themselves and think autonomously is essential!
I want my kids to see and experience a host of emotions in me and in each other. Love, empathy, compassion, frustration, kindness, sadness, and… anger. Without the ‘bad’ how can they have the ‘good?’ That said, an inability to manage the emotions or a lack of resiliency is something I grapple with as well! I mean, dude… it’s a purple plate… how bad can that be?!
When the proverbial lines are drawn in the sand, it’s hard not to escalate the situation. Lord knows between 5 and 7 each night, there’s a lot of escalation. I *know* better, but… there’s still more yelling and ‘or else-ing’ and gauntlet throwing than I feel good about. Sure, consequences are part of life, but remember that second category of anger I mentioned above? The Mom-centric stuff? Well that list isn’t as rational or controlled as I would like.
Talk about mom guilt?! That moment I locked Oliver in his room because he couldn’t stop going after his sister… or the nights when I restrain Martha in her highchair because she keeps “kissing” Louisa (trust me… Martha’s kisses look a lot more like a headlock) or when I realize I’ve told Eleanor she’s ‘old enough’ and should ‘know better’ 12 times? Yeah… those moments are the pits.
Has anyone ever yelled at their kid and then realized that maybe (maybe…) there was a tiny bit of fear in your kid’s eye?
Has anyone ever had a child push every button for hours and then relished (maybe a bit too much) in taking them by the arm to give them a little time-out?!
Has anyone ever closed themself off in their room while the Lord of the Flies was reenacted outside?
Has anyone ever ended their day with an ache in their throat because of the screaming?
I’m TRYING to notice when the anger is Category A and when it’s Category B. Category A is part of the parenting deal… There are strategies and techniques for this. Behavior charts, positive reinforcement, Love and Logic, etc.
Category B is a matter of insight and self-awareness. And honesty. Sure, 9 times out of 10, I’m the only adult within earshot (dear baby Jesus, pleeeeaaase let me be the only adult within earshot) but just because I can justify my anger or rage or impatience… does that mean I hold no culpability? Everyday I get a little better at recognizing ways to defuse the situation and ways to walk away. When to engage and when to wave the white flag. But there are still those days. Those days when I can tell 5″ after waking up that the oil/ water dynamic is percolating. The Alexander-and-the-Terrible-No-Good-Very-Bad-Day syndrome. The helium balloon is no longer the floating (MUMMYFIXIT) or the 1 cm rubber bouncy ball is missing (MUMMYFINDIT) or the favorite t-shirt has popsicle/toothpaste/oatmeal caked on it (MUMMYWHYCANTIWEARIT). Or the classic Veruca Salt: IWANTITNOW.
What do you guys do on THOSE days?
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