My husband texted me “Just rode our first coaster – Colossus! [Crazy face emoji.]”
Little does he know I’ve been riding one at home and it’s not nearly as thrilling.
He’s taken E and two friends off to Magic Mountain to celebrate E’s 14th birthday.
I’m home with our newly hatched 1st grader and experiencing the breezy joys of the first day of summer!
After two late nights her eyes are at half mast and simply put, nothing is right.
She demands to go to the pool. I say, that’s not going to work today.
And the tirade begins – I’m sparing you many of the gruesome details but these quotes will give you the flavor.
You’re the boringest in my whole entire family because you always mention boring things to me and I HATE YOU!
I want daddy!
I wish I were dead!
(she repeats this last one several times I think because she’s startled that I’m not reacting)
I’m not as composed as I want to be. Being a parent educator can really inflame feelings of parental inadequacy. My self talk that thankfully doesn’t come out my mouth is, S you’re acting like a spoiled brat and
what have I done to create this monster? How can I possibly say I have any answers for parents when my kid is acting like this!
I successfully take it down a few notches, not perfect but better, when I say to her, you’re tired. Maybe you’re even sick because this is how you act when you’re sick. There’s not much sympathy in my voice as I say some other not so choice words that infuriate her.
On the upside, I bear lots of her rage and both of our discomfort. Bearing it is good. Breathing through it is great. I give breathing a try and it helps.
As far as I can tell, along with deep breathing, the following are key elements that finally shift the energy.
There’s no substitute for time. It feels like a good hour of our back and forth. She pleads, I ignore, she rages, I stop and give her some kind and firm attention, she storms off, I fold laundry, ignore and finally I ask for her help.
One my favorite Positive Discipline sayings is children do better when they feel better. When I ask her for help, I tap into her desire for significance and belonging. While we’re not always aware of it, all of us are looking for significance and belonging.
Notice how imperfectly I handle this yet how important it is that I persist.
First, I suggest she pick up her room – she says NO – (admittedly a knee jerk bound to fail request on my part).
Second, I suggest she help clear the living room of her toys – NO! That’s two strikes….
Third, I ASK how she’d like to help and I LISTEN when she says she wants to help in the kitchen. She gets a stool and I fill a basin with warm soapy water. Singing quietly, she scrubs dishes for a solid 15 minutes. (I’m in another room).
Like roller coasters inevitably do, it feels like this one is coming to a surprisingly smooth and sudden stop.
Now she’s done scrubbing and she’s disappeared.
I hear a harmonica in the distance.
Here’s your chance to support another parent! Share in the comment section below.
We ALL lose it as parents. On those days when you’re able to remain calm when your child presses your button, what’s different?
How will you make space for these calming features of life?
its heartening to hear this story. its a series of events that has played out regularly at my house this summer. lots of “NO” and “you’re boring!”. its helpful to hear I’m not alone and get the reminder to keep cool and not lose it.
Shawn – it’s good to hear you’re boring too 🙂 Your girls are lucky to have such a boring dad. It’s great to hear from you.
What a great blog post about summer parenting! What a relief to know I’m no alone. I appreciate how you shared a real-life, not-so-pretty scenario with your daughter including the ‘muddling through’ on your part, to a positive end. The points about acknowledging the value of time and ‘breathing’ through the difficult emotions, plus giving your child an opportunity to feel useful/belonging, are precious. Thanks for being honest and showing how we can adjust, in-the-moment, to our kids’ needs and our own feelings; that it’s not about ‘getting it right’ the first time for good parenting to work.
You are not alone!! The muddling through is so important because being that imperfect parent is were it’s at. Thanks for contributing Anna!
This is really what I needed to hear this morning after a colossal parenting fail last night with two hungry kids who refused to eat pepperoni pizza (who doesn’t like pizza? my kids). This post reminds me that there’s no magic solution that I just haven’t figured out yet; that breathing is the best thing to do; and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes and we can get through it with love and as much patience as we can muster.
Sierra, you said it so beautifully. Everyone does make mistakes AND it’s not always a mistake, sometimes we are all just being human.
Ahhh, summer 🙂 My little one’s not quite two, but I can totally see this roller coaster in our future. We’ve already got the kiddie version!
Thanks for sharing tips on how to deal. Breathing is *always* good!
You’re doing it Nikki!! Thanks for chiming in 🙂
Wow, Lisa, you are an AMAZING Mom! As I read your story, I felt like I was there with you. I felt everything. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, vulnerability, and wisdom as a Mom with me. I’m not a Mom yet, but I am an Aunt and Future Mom.
Wow Joni! Thank you for the acknowledgment. You are an amazing woman!
I find when I remember to ask for help,and not just from the children – but from the spiritual world. Something always shifts! Its almost as though I let go of trying to control the situation and then it works out. Like stepping back and letting go.
Thank you for adding to this conversation. Stepping back, asking for help, letting go and SHIFT HAPPENS! Powerful.
I appreciate you sharing the story as most moms will go through it one way or another. I loose it time to time but I kinda tell her the same thing even though she’s only 3. I say you are tired and maybe you should take a little time to calm down because mommy needs to calm down too. Of course she protests but at least it gives me some time to calm down…,
Yes! Thank you for sharing.
Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this story. My almost-six year-old behaved in a very similar manner on our first two days of vacation, and I really started to think that maybe taking vacation was not such a good idea after all. You’re supposed to have fun on vacation! And she was miserable. You know, I tend to think my daughter is just difficult–rebellious and sensitive and argumentative, especially when overtired. It is heartening to hear that she is actually pretty normal. I don’t know why, but it makes it easier for me to just breathe and be patient when I see it that way. I don’t have to take her tantrums so personally. Thanks again.
Kelly, in the classes I teach parent express just what you are saying here and that is why I’m starting this blog and putting my voice and experience out into the world. You are in great company and I love what you write at the end about it just being easier, knowing that she’s normal and not having to take her behavior so personally. So beautifully said – I’m so glad you included your voice here!!
It makes me feel better to know I’m not the only one going through this parenting roller coaster! Thanks for sharing this!
You are not the only one Jill!! Thanks for chiming in.
This what I think of when combining roller coasters with parenting:
Love the clip Dave! That’s another blog… let me know when you’ve written it 🙂
I can’t tell you how good it feels to read this post… Have you read my most recent post? When my parent educator self meets up with my parent self it can be really crazy – thank you for sharing your story, I relate.
Casey I will check it out! Please subscribe cause I have another blog coming out tomorrow 🙂 I’m announcing your joyful courage book club!
Thank you very much for the article! It sounded so familiar to me, my 7 year old daughter also told me she didn’t want to be born after the quarrel with her younger brother (2,8). And it took all my mental strength and nerves to rule it out.
Oh Elena they know where are buttons are!! Thank you for reading a commenting – we are in this together!