A few nights ago I confronted one of our sons on something. It's not very often I need to call him out, but there are times when cultural differences and our slight, but sometimes prominent language barrier allow him to come across in a way that's...let's say...less than kind.
Our typically jovial boy didn't respond well. No one likes being scolded, no matter how lovingly it's done. But there's a moment where we need to make a decision. Will we take it or allow it to get under our skin? For our sweet son, he chose the latter and grew increasingly grumpy as the evening wore on.
We have several sayings in our house. Sayings which Ben and I repeat so often, the kids know them by heart.
We're hoping they're sinking into their little hearts, as we say the words over and over.
One that we seem to use all. the. time. is:
We've said this since the kids were small, while we were still trying to figure out how this parenting thing worked and what things to place emphasis on as we helped our kids grow. (hah, lets be honest...I think we'll be forever trying to figure out how this parenting thing works!)
We knew though that we wanted to validate the way our children feel, doing so is important to us.
There's nothing wrong with them being sad, mad or angry. God made us with emotions, they're healthy.
What can be wrong however, is how they respond in those feelings.
I still remember years ago watching a man became angry and kick a garbage can. As his boot hit the metal of the can, he threw down the stack of papers in his hands, scattering them all over the floor. Um, talk about temper tantrum! For goodness sakes, buddy, you're a grown man! I don't know for sure, but likely his parents didn't dissuade that sort of behavior when he was small.
Children need to be held responsible for their actions and behavior. How they're taught to behave now will shape who they grow up to be.
And I'm pretty sure none of us wants our little ones to act like that man I saw. Like I said, emotions are good. They're healthy.
Even if our children are young and in the tantrum age, boundaries and limits are being learned.
I'm not sure there is a too young age for boundary setting.
Even infants test boundaries as they cry when being put to bed.
If a two year old is screaming in Target because Mom or Dad said "no" to the toy they wanted, how do you think a person should react?
In our family, we have decided to just let them scream and jump up and down or writhe on the floor. As long as they're not being destructive to the store or hurting anyone, Ben and I simply stand there and watch.
I receive dirty looks from some passers-by and knowing smiles from others.
And of course there are comments almost every time, most about what a horrible mom I am to let them act that way in public.
Yep, makes my heart feel warm just thinking about all the support around me as I have not only a cartload of popsicles melting into a sticky mess, but about a million kids hanging off said cart. Just watching and waiting out their sibling.
I'll often overhear someone murmuring how I should just give them the toy, how it's not a big deal...just let them have it. Or "she's so little, she's still learning how to behave".
Really though? Because if she's so little that she has no idea what she's doing...then why does she do it? She's hoping I give in. She is hoping to make enough ruckus that I bend. But if I do, that is the positive reinforcement that shows her that her tantrum worked. And she will do it again.
It's actually crazy cute to hear them respond, mid-cry. (sniff sniff) "Nothiiiing." Often the kids will say it all together. I guess they're getting the message.
There's nothing wrong with crying, it's normal emotional behavior. But crying when one doesn't get something they want...that's very different than crying because they're genuinely sad about something.
Parenting...sigh...it's hard isn't it?! We all want to raise the most incredible people on the planet.
Keep it up, Mama and Daddy. You're doing a great job. Consistency is key. (preaching to the choir here!) And don't forget to get down eye-to-eye with them and tell those Crazies you love them.