I’ve been getting my butt kicked while putting my daughter to bed. The other night, I had the ultimate struggle with whining on both sides. Her whining and struggling to listen to daddy, and daddy whining and asking, “Why won’t you lay down?”
So often lately, I’ve been in a lot of WHY-don’t-you-just-listen-to-me situations. I am sure many of you have been in similar situations. As the saying goes, you sound like a broken record: saying your rules or demands over and over and over again. These kids won’t get it! So I’m learning how to be patience within different scenarios while trying to figure out how and when to communicate that I am fed up.
When am I absolutely not willing to be “walked over” within a given situation anymore? When I am soft as a teddy bear? When can I allow for a little grace because kids need so much love and understanding from their caregivers?
This is definitely a battle that I fight every day. Our kids are so lovable and we want them to be happy. How do we put our foot down? When do we need to put our foot down? And not just one foot, but both feet.
I’ve learned from Jane Nelsen’s book “Positive Discipline” that these limits need to be both kind and firm. We all have different parenting styles within particular situations, but Nelsen talks about being consistent and also connecting in a loving way with our child. It’s hard to connect in this day and age because we want what we want and we want it now! We are like, “Don’t do that!” “Don’t touch that!” until don’t, don’t, don’t is all our kids here from us. Add in our kid’s specific developmental stage and then we know that often our kid doesn’t fully understand what “don’t” means.
What I’ve learned is it’s important to tell them why they can’t do something. The perfect example is telling my daughter not to stand on the coffee table. Of course, I can just snatch her off the table with much frustration. That would be easy and effectively show her that daddy acts physically impulsive when he’s frustrated. Or I could take a few calming breath and then say, “Honey, you’re on the table. What did daddy say about standing on the table? You have to get off the table. Can you come help daddy with building his tower?
I’m not sure this plea would get her off the table and onto this new task, but you get the point. I’ve found it easier to ask her to help me or give her a job to do. Does it work every time? No. But it’s helping me change my approach when I’m frustrated with a situation with her. It’s also bringing a sense of belonging and connection to our relationship. It’s about being kind and firm at the same time while inviting my daughter to do tasks together that bring both of us joy. While I know standing on the table brings her much joy, it’s better for both of us if whatever she is doing doesn’t drive me bonkers. And doing something we both want to do together, well, that’s so much better for our relationship that much I do know for sure.