“Sure they love me, but I really think they’re afraid of me.” - A defiant toddler. Hopelessly beating us parents on who will win in a contest of wills, our toddler has become a tyrant and a dictator. Challenging, mocking and defying.
Sometimes I feel stranded because I am too embarrassed to take our little spitfire anywhere.
To begin with, I have to drop my frustrations that children are different and I cannot use the same strategies with both or all. I thought I had things going as it was easy for me to correct my eldest daughter once or twice only. Having a heart-to-heart talk, a nose-to-nose confrontation, positive parenting with loving discipline worked before but how come it is not working this time with my second born son?
Ethan was rejecting my authority as his mother. Dictating what and how he wants things done, tyrannically looking at me, hitting, screaming, throwing, spitting and occasionally biting. I felt mocked as a gently talk to him about love but he responds by saying ‘no I want to fight, I want to hurt, don’t want happy, don’t want change, no help, don’t want love”
I have tried talking, allowing him to work out his frustration, embracing him in times of anger and demonstrating how to do or say things.
I ended up crying in front of him and said “ I don’t know what to do anymore to help you, I feel hurt and disrespected so I will just pray for you because I know it only Jesus can help you change.’
Was it because of factors such us parental or leadership absence during the months when Caitlin our eldest fell ill and died? The months of processing grief? The pregnancy and the new baby? So many overwhelming factors and made things difficult for him?
Maybe I missed out on his desperate need for nurturance. Sometimes I end up staring blankly not knowing how to respond anymore and thinking “maybe I can just let this pass. But if I permit defiance or stay cold leave him damaged for life?
Children learn what they are taught. But where did he learn these?
Young children typically identify their parents, especially their fathers with God. Therefore if mom and dad are not worthy of respect, then neither are their morals, their country, their values, and beliefs or even their faith. Such a heavy responsibility.
It is the ultimate paradox of childhood that youngsters want to be led, but insist that their parents earn the right to lead them. So here’s to a journey of discovering what will finally work with what seems to be hopeless.
Here’s to reading up on more books, attending workshops and asking advice from older parents that we look up to. Do follow this RSS as I share my search for Pandora’s box for toddlers! Im thankful that I have to go through such a difficult time with my son, it’s an opportunity to share what I have learned and what works to seemingly impossibly situations.
“I love you too much to let you behave like that”
Use word picture to help convey message more clearly.
I knew of a little bird who was in his nest with his mommy. The mommy bird went off to find some worms to eat, and she told the little bird not to get out of the nest while she was gone. But the little bird didn’t mind her. He jumped out of the nest and fell to the ground where a big cat ate him. When I tell you to obey me, it is because I know what is best for you, just a the mommy bird did with her baby bird. When I tell you to stay, it is because I don’t want you to get hit by a car. I love you and I don’t want anything to happen to you. If you don’t mind me, ill have to discipline you to help you remember how important it is. Do you understand?
“Affirm publicly and Correct privately.”
Respect must run both ways. Parents should be gentle with their child’s ego, never belittling or embarrassing him. We do our best to pull aside Ethan when we need to correct him. I try to also observe little good traits and actions and affirming him outloud and in public. I call Ethan’s attention, “look at mommy” and when His eyes are on me, I tell him “I love you” or “ I appreciate that you putting your hand down even if you were tempted to grab the toy. ”I appreciate you being polite by shaking hands to mommy’s friend and saying nice to meet you” “im listening, I want to help you” Their strong feeling sand requests should be considered.
“Self esteem is the most fragile attribute to human nature. It can be damaged by minor incidents, ad its reconstruction is often difficult to engineer… take it from me who is working on clinging to reconstructing my self esteem to God confidence. “ – dare to discipline
“Patiently love with discipline”
A parent in control and patient will eventually succeed in settling the anarchist but not until he is between 3 to 4 years old. A child’s attitude toward authority can be severely damaged during his toddler years. – dare to discipline
Interpret the meaning of behavior.
A child’s antagonism and stiff-lipped negativism may emanate from frustration, disappointment, or rejection. One must develop the skill to get behind the eyes of their child, seeing what he sees, thinking what he thinks, feeling what he feels. – dare to disciplime
Breathe in and out. if it doesn’t work excuse yourself
Lately ive tried to do this with my son when he gets frustrated or tempted to hit, to put his hands on his side and breathe in and out with me. At times he does it, but most of the time I end up doing it alone. It actually helps me more than him. Im able to control my emotions and talk with a nice tone. If it doesn’t work, I tell him I need some time to go out alone and will be back. I tell him that having anger and frustrations are normal but what we do to react or respond is whats important. There are days that I tell him that I feel angry so I end up crying and tell him that I need some time alone and will talk or be with him after a walk.
Smile and use a singing voice and embrace
I correct Ethan with his rude voice by saying to use a singing voice, as do I. when I need to correct him and he continues to defy my I try to use a singing voice while smiling. At times when he’s so frustrated on the floor I allow him some time, afterward I come to him and embrace him so tight even if he wants to let go and whisper “let me help you. Im not your enemy” and after sometime, you would feel his body change and let go of the anger.
Consistency and prayer
Sometimes after we have tried so many techniques, we really don’t know what to be consistent about. This is where prayer comes in. During prayer we have the following sequence.
thank God for who He is (specifically) - ex. Thank you for providing, that you know all things, that you want the best for us, that you continue to love and protect with a great plan.
Ask for forgiveness – is there something you want to say sorry about? Me I want to say sorry for loosing my temper. Then lead him with instances of disobedience and disrespect
Ask for help – specifically ask for help to have particular characteristics ex. I need more help to use my singing voice when I want something.
Give thanks – Give thanks for specific people, situations, things and the changes that you have prayed for.
The other day, while at the dining table, I began scooping food then Ethan caught my attention asking me “mommy, how about pray?” then we prayed. During bedtime after preparing his bed and kissing him goodnight, I was getting lazy to read a book and pray. As I was about to leave, Ethan asked “mommy how about pray?” and so we did. I believe being consistent even if It feels like its not effective will have good results. Prayer will also reveal what we need to be consistent with. During this time is also the time that I pray out loud to let him hear how I am asking help from Jesus to change both him and me in specific situations.
I remember that I end up talking to Jesus for so long that Caitie always falls asleep even before I finish ☺ good memories.
I just need to learn to be more positive with my outlook in parenting and responding to Ethan. To have more positive memories over correction. So here goes to another day!