Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 199.

I had some tough discipline moments today. Stupid things that ended in me freaking out, raising my voice at Dylan for basically no reason. They all involved her doing something, me asking her not to, her doing it again, and me flipping out that she deliberately disobeyed me. Ugghhh, I just kept getting more and more frustrated each time it happened. And it was always about the dumbest things.

For example, we had just finished playing at the park, her hands are filthy and she starts putting her fingers in her mouth and sucking on her finger (while I'm buckling her into her carseat). I was like, "Eww, Dylan don't do that - your fingers are dirty!" And I go to get into my seat in the car. She announces with an "oh-no" sort of tone - "I'm doing it again!" - like she couldn't help it or something. I repeat, annoyed, "Dylan, I just told you not to do that, your fingers are filthy! Why would you do that when I just..." And she cuts me off saying, "Oh no - I just did it again!" I freaked out...completely blowing the situation out of proportion. But, it was the last straw for me, after several of these episodes had already happened. Her doing stuff I just told her not to, and on purpose.

I was so ashamed of the way I talked to her, almost immediately, and so I apologized for yelling, but I was still so disturbed by the purposeful disobedience. On the other hand, she's not a dog, I'm not trying to get her just to OBEY ME and that's her only role. For some reason she needed to put her hands in her mouth. It wasn't that harmful, was it? And so my reaction was completely ridiculous.

I've replayed this particular scenario in my head several times today.

I am grateful for reflection.

In hindsight, I think this would have gone a lot better if I would have done this:
Dylan puts fingers in mouth. I don't tell her "Don't do that." Instead I say, "Oh my, your fingers must be very dirty from all that playing - let's get you a wipe. Do you want to wipe them or should I?" We wipe them, she can put them in her mouth and it's over.

Why do I feel the need to issue so many negative mandates lately? Is it some sort of power trip? Don't put your kleenex on the floor. Don't pick your nose. Don't knock over that tower. Don't, don't, don't!!!

No one wants to be told NO all the time, and that includes children. It's just not fair to them, and in my opinion gives them too many boundaries and not enough creativity. Phrasing is so key in parenting. So, I'm going to try and turn it into - Which trash would you like to put your kleenex in? Do you need a tissue? Dylan is still working on that tower, should we build you one to knock down? Do. Do. Do. Give them freedom to make their own choices, and you empower them.

I'm going to try to get off my inadvertent power trip and try to transfer some back over to my well-deserving children.


  1. I am grateful that there are other children that act like my children, and that there are other parents that struggle in the same way that I do.

    Wise stuff today. Thanks.

  2. I haven't been checking your blog every day lately, but decided tonight. I'm so glad I did. I have been dealing with the same issues, only you were able to process it in a way that I hadn't. So thanks. It's nice to know you aren't the only one. I love that you are so real about your ups and downs as a parent. I'm looking forward to seeing you again in IA in a couple weeks.

  3. I have two "issues" that are so not worth arguing about, but I can't help myself-Sean doing this "silly talk" thing that I can't even explain, and both kids taking pillows off the couch/our bed and dragging them through the house. I know-both really, really not worth spending time getting mad about, but for some reason they both burn me up. I've been trying to think about my approach to these issues lately, and I think your method sounds like a good one. There are too many other things that need real attention to get bent out of shape over stuff like my "issues."

    And it was great seeing you yesterday. Dylan looked like a pro on the balance beam. I loved how she did it with her hands on hips- Olympic superstar in training!

  4. very interesting post. i agree and yet a part of me doesn't, i think. i totally know that i too can fall into talking (to anya) in a way that i'm ashamed of and wish i could take back. but i also think maybe you might be too hard on yourself. i think it's okay to have things that you just don't let your kids do, even it it's just because it annoys you. i don't know...maybe i'm just justifying something about myself. but i think it's okay to set limits/boundaries/rules, whatever you want to call them. they need to learn that too. i'm not at all saying that the alternatives you posed aren't great, necessary, and thought-provoking...i just think that sometimes maybe we need more slack and realize that we're human and are going to react quickly to things in a way that might not be the most thought out or even kind, but it's real. i don't know if i'm making myself clear or just sounding crazy or dumb. i'm also in NO WAY saying that i think you let your kids get away with too much or have a problem with setting appropriate boundaries for your kids, so don't worry about that. i'm sure we'll have many discussions in the future...maybe i'll be clearer then...