Before you read my headline and think, “What is WRONG with her?” Hear me out.
I’ve been having a really rough time with Mila (my three and a half year old) lately. And I think it’s 100% my fault. The past couple weeks have been especially rough. She is whining, crying (a lot!), getting easily frustrated, and yelling.
And she has been fighting bedtime pretty much every night this week.
She is quick to get angry when things don’t go her way when she wants them to. If I tell her to wait for a few minutes, she whines and tells me “Mommy that’s too long.” If I tell her she can’t have chocolate too close to bedtime she has a meltdown. If she can’t open something or put this LEGO together, she starts begins to yell and get frustrated.
If I politely tell her that we all have to be patient, she doesn’t quite understand it. If I try to reason with her and tell her she can have chocolate the next day after some breakfast, she’s still not happy. If I tell her to use her words instead of whining, she looks at me as if I’ve just said that her little sister is an alien. When she is having a full-blown meltdown (I’m talking scream-crying, can’t breathe type of yelling) and I tell her to calm down she cries harder.
By this point, she is yelling, and now so am I.
I just can’t seem to do anything right.
Am I a bad mom? Am I not doing a good enough job in raising her on how to be respectful, patient, and kind? I am completely failing not only at this motherhood thing but in life!
And then I saw this.
And it hit me: I have been going about this all wrong.
Janet has put this so simple and clear: children don’t know how to handle stress and emotions well. They can’t understand and process it. She illustrates this with a perfect example: a frustrated writer rips a page out of the typewriter, crumbles it, and throws it away.
What he has just done is got his frustration out, took a moment, and was able to reset and move on from that moment. He can now approach the situation again in a calmer ration, and try to write again with a clear head.
So how do we handle these emotional outbursts? We as parents try so hard in ‘fixing it for them’. I’m always telling her not to cry, not to yell, not to whine. And it doesn’t work.
Janet recommends that we as parents don’t “fear the feelings; they are healthy.” “Emotions are not reasonable, they are impulses that just pass through us.”
This brought me back to thinking about my own reactions and how I handle my anxiety and panic attacks. I always say that the number one thing you NEVER say to someone who is experiencing anxiety is to calm down and not to worry. That only makes the situation a thousand times worse. Yet here I am, doing the same exact thing to Mila.
Sometimes Mila is so smart that I forget that she really is only 3. She can color, memorize books, count, she knows her alphabet, trace, and so much more. She can hold a full on conversation with you without batting an eye. She is so wise beyond her years but that’s just it; she doesn’t have the years.
I’m expecting her to calm down and be rational when she clearly can’t and doesn’t know how to.
I need to be there to support her process her thoughts and her emotions on her own, which will later benefit her in the long run. I can be there for her if she needs me to be, but I realized that I NEVER want her to question whether or not she is “supposed” to feel a certain way.
So the next time she cries, yells or gets frustrated, I’m going to try my very best to let her have her moment. This is not to say that I will let her be unreasonable, but at the same time, I have to remember that these moments will pass. I will try my best to remind her that I’m here to support her and offer her a hug when she wants/needs one.
It’s funny how things come into your life at the right moment. It was a really rough week in our household and this couldn’t have opened my eyes any clearer. Janet Lansbury has such perfect advice for us parents that I just had to share this with all of you. What are your thoughts? I invite you to comment below.
Have a great Superbowl weekend!