After the revelation that I was being way too short tempered with my family (too much yelling going on!), I started to consciously correct the problem. I’ve been practicing more patience. Instead of yelling, exasperated, while walking away or storming around the house, getting down to their level. Speaking in a calm voice. Explaining why what they did was wrong. Keeping them calm. Asking for an apology. Dolling out consequences. The kind of parenting I did when I only had one child… And she responded and loved and respected me because of the attention I gave her.
Well I have to admit, it is more difficult with more children. Because the goal is – at all times but especially when correcting bad behavior – to give my child my full attention. BUT. If you are giving one child 100% of your attention, that leaves 0% for the other child(ren).
Here’s a great example. Today while my two youngest were eating lunch and my eldest was at school, I had to go to the bathroom. Any mom knows that even bathroom time is not off limits to your kids. All they know is that you’re their mom, and they want your attention all the time… even if you’re going potty. So I had maybe 20 seconds of uninterrupted bathroom time when both of them burst through the door. DISCLAIMER: I’m one of ‘those people’, the ones that bring their phone in the bathroom. Why, you ask? Isn’t that gross? No. I am a mom. Multi-tasking is so inbred in me that if I’m NOT doing 2 things at once, I twitch. Okay maybe not twitch, but I do have a nasty habit of picking at my fingernails and cuticles. If I DO get uninterrupted bathroom time, that is one of the only times I have to quickly check email and see if I have any important ones. (Which I then flag, and reply to POST bathroom… don’t worry.)
So, back to the story. They burst in on me, phone in hand, all smiles like they just finished their first marathon or something. Like, “HEY, MOM!!! Aren’t you so glad we’re here?!”
There I was, trying to justify how I could continue checking emails, finish going to the bathroom (am I the only one that sometimes tries to elongate this a little bit, just to get a little more quiet alone time?), and also supervise my children.
Camille started opening the cabinet under the sink and bringing out the extra hand soap, cleaning supplies, etc. So I set the phone down, telling her no, putting the cleaning supplies back. (At this point I’m actually done with the task I went in there to complete, but clearly couldn’t let the 17mos old continue messing with the Scrubbing Bubbles.)
Just about the time I finish cleaning up Camille’s mess, I look the other way to see Brendan, marker in hand, marking a nice clean line down the wall on our wainscoting. (Oh, forgot to mention that it was permanent marker. It came in a craft kit and was a very cute kid size, and I only gave it to him because I was supervising his use of it. Until I went to the bathroom that is.) So. You can imagine what I did next.
Well first I finished my original task, then I asked him where acceptable places are to color. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but something about “not my skin”. (The answer I was looking for was “PAPER ONLY”.) So I firmly explained that I had to take the marker away because he drew on the wall instead of using it on paper. COMMENCE CRYING FIT! “But I want it!” and many other hard-to-decipher phrases came tumbling out of his mouth as he simultaneously tried to grab the marker from my hand. (I had to pry it from his fingers in the first place. Not my preferred method.)
So I got down to his level, looked him in the eye, told him to calm down. “Take a deep breath” and all that. Had a little talk about how he can color on paper but not on the wall, and since he colored on the wall even when he knew the rules, I had to take the marker away.
….and turned around JUST. IN. TIME. to see Camille pulling something out of the toilet (to which I ALWAYS close the lid – what was I thinking?!) and almost put it in her mouth. I mean thisclose to putting it in her mouth. It was her paci. Thank goodness I grabbed it in time.
Moral of the story?
Something’s gotta give.
My kids respond better when I give them my full attention = I want to give them my full attention more often. (Crazy chaotic mama = crazy chaotic home)
When I’m giving one child my full attention, the others will be temporarily ignored = make sure there are no cleaning products, toilets, garbage cans, hot appliances, or sharp objects anywhere in reach before turning that full attention over. 🙂
Have any similar mom/dad stories? Share in the comments below!