tantrums, bad behavior & the loves of your life.

Tantrums! Hitting. Screaming. The lovely wonderfully embarassing outbursts! How can we control them? Better yet STOP them from ever happening?

This is a huge topic of debate and I'm sure if I had a solution I'd be a billionaire by now. Every parent in America would buy my book, right?

Not only have all of us parents been there but we've all at least once thought to ourselves "what is wrong with my children? Why are they so terrible?" Come on, you can admit it! You've said that at least once. 

I can't tell you how many times I have thought or even said this exact thing. 

I have spent numerous hours thinking of different ways in which to distract them from the very thing that is causing the terrible fits {i.e. his brother}. 

"Who wants a popsicle?"
"Who wants to watch Cars on my iPhone?" 

Or better yet, rationalization:

"Stop crying. You'll never get your way if you cry like that!" or "You won't have any friends at school if you act like that." 

My ultimate favorite is still my best solution this far:

"Go cry in your room, not in the kitchen! If you're going to be upset over that, it's fine, but do it elsewhere."

Another popular reaction:

laughing! I mean, most of the time my kids father and I share a good laugh {and often record on video} over the outbursts.

And the list goes on. Often, these things work. More often times though, they don't. And there's nothing stopping the future ones from occuring either. Again, if there were, don't you think somebody would have figured out the solution, by now?

This is life. This is CHILDREN! 

We are doing nothing wrong. You're not bad at this new role you've taken on as parent. It's not our fault that they cry or get angry. It's all a part of our children growing up, expression and resolving/understanding the feeling of emotion. 

At least this is according to Patty Wipfler in the article Cry For Connection published in Mothering Magazine

She claims, 

Most of us evaluate our parenting in a very straightforward way. When our children are happy, cooperative, loving, and polite, we take pride in them and in ourselves as parents. When our children are unhappy or unreasonable, we figure that something has gone wrong, and we tend to blame ourselves or them. In short, we've been trained to think of children's upsets as "bad." 

This same article discusses tantrums as a 'reflex' type of a reaction; a way of expressing emotions and communicating {no sh*t, right}. As Patty puts it, "[maybe] tantrums and other expressions of feelings are actually useful? What if a tantrum is like an emotional sneeze--a natural reaction meant to clear out foreign material?"

So instead we can relax a bit on this issue and instead of rationalizing, distracting and or physically reprimanding them, we need to allow them to scream and cry and fall on the ground! {wink} I know, sounds awful for our own sanity. But perhaps we should just listen to them and their feelings and be there with them instead of trying to "resolve" the issue! That's what Patty's claiming for the most part. 

Another interesting question that I ask myself is, to what degree does our parenting style affect our children's personality? And or does it?

My oldest son is the most rational of the two. He is very smart. And VERY caring. He is the most outwardly emotional as well. He worries about me. He worries about his younger brother, "[screech] watch out for your fingers in the door, Roman!" He knows what he's feeling and tells us. He's not even 3 yrs old. He has thrown more tantrums than my youngest ever does. He cries when he's hurt AND when he's sad. It's very interesting to see the difference in personality and it makes you wonder if it is something YOU as a parent have done differently or if it's a genetic thing. 

My youngest son, when he falls or is hurt or mad, he asks for Thomas the Train! ;) He sits on time out like it's no big deal. He hits his brother to be funny, looks at me and says "time out?" He says he's sorry. But doesn't really mean it. He often comes up and hugs us. But it's just not the same. He doesn't cry when he falls {unless it's really bad}. He has this amazing protective wall around him though, so he doesn't have to learn the hard way. Only good things seem to happen for him and he's always a positive guy {smily, funny, jokester}. 

When my oldest is hurt or sad, he wants his mom; he finds comfort in me. He hugs me all day long, tells me he loves me, wants to sleep with me, go everywhere with me. He is sad when he makes me sad. He will apologize over and over again when he does something wrong or if I do something wrong {he apologizes for me}. He says "I love you Mom" about 7-10 times a day. He also tells me and everybody all day long about what he did wrong that day. This list could go on and on. He is sensitive and caring. 

So, what is the reason for this difference in personality? I often wonder if it has anything to do with them being 12 months apart and me giving them different types of and amounts of attention. 

I read another article recently in a men's magazine about crying and tantrums. A father, smart successful man, tells his sons to cry only when they are hurt. That's it! There's no other reason for crying. PERIOD. This article was one that also taught finances. It was logical. Straight forward. He wanted his son to learn to be a man, no a sissy {I assume}. Which to me seems a bit like he's teaching his son to "suffocate" his feelings instead of acknowledging them. But then again, in this world in which we live, men are SUPPOSED to do that. If you think about it. Real Men Don't Cry

According to Patty though, a lot of proper parenting is actually couterintuitive and not logical. 

Here at my house, we don't spank. But some of the most well behaved children I know are all spanked. And they thank their parents for keeping them in line and for the discipline they receive. This goes far against what Patty suggests. But when you meet and spend time with these children, they are well behaved, nice, kind, caring, helpful and have great manners. It's pretty darn amazing. Not SCARED of their parents, as you would assume they might be. {I never wanted to spank my children because a) associating pain and hitting with wrong behavior didn't seem right and b) I didn't want them to be "scared" of me or their father. }

I was recently given {via snail mail} 2 articles from grandparents about how we are supposed to be the center of the child's world and NOT visa versa. It came from the LA Times. 

The articles suggest that too many modern parents are making their children the center of their lives and everything revolves around THEM {the children}, suggesting that instead we are to show them that WE as adults and parents have lives too. And that our children should look up to us in this way. 

I have also had therapists remind me that we are NOT our child's friend, we are their guidance, their role models and their disciplinarians. We show them love by showing them discipline and guidance. That being a "friend" is actually NOT being a good parent.

Is the term, being there for our kids {as Patty says} sometimes being taken TOO literally? We can be there for them emotionally and physically without having to let them RULE and control everything that happens in the house. 

I have thought about this many times. I think if we don't want our children watching TV then we need to not watch TV. Right? Or do we teach them that they shouldn't watch TV because we "SAID SO" and we are the boss. This is how our grandparents tell us to behave. 

This is all too confusing. All this parenting stuff! 

In my opinion, being a parent is sometimes like religion. We live our lives and act according to "theory"! Not fact. There are so many different opinions and beliefs about these subjects and not ONE person actually knows the TRUTH. Yet we're SO afraid of doing the wrong thing - making the wrong choice! 

My Moral:

If you believe in who YOU are and are PROUD of who you are, just teaching your children to be like you is good enough. If you give your children all the love you can, they will feel it.

In fact, becoming a parent can actually make you become a better person; it humbles you as much as it makes you WANT to be a better person and role model.  

We will fail and make mistakes as parents sometimes, just as we do as human beings. As adults. As employees. As wives and husbands. It's okay for your children to know that YOU too screw up sometimes. You aren't perfect. Nor is the world in which we live. Our children will never be perfect. And it's OK to screw up sometimes. 

I am a perfectionist with little tolerance for mistakes, gluttony and selfishness in life. It has given me the drive and diligence to be the successful 31 year old that I am. But as a parent, so I have recently learned, It's a big flaw of mine. 

I have very little patience or forgiveness for 'irresponsible' or 'juvenile' behavior {won't go into detail in this post} for as long as I can remember. Probably because I have been taking care of myself for the most part since I was young. I was lucky though to have had a therapist tell me one time, "don't expect perfection from your children. And you'll want to forgive and find that patience that you've lacked towards others." Sounds obvious, right? Well, it's not as obvious as you'd think. For some reason that moment was really important for me. I finally got it. I learned a HUGE lesson. My goal as a parent is to be OK with my children's mistakes as HARD as it might be for me. All of their bad choices and decisions and behavior; I won't expect perfection from them. And also important to note is that their choices are not necessarily a relfection of me and/or my {our} parenting.

I think that's what Patty is getting at to some degree in her article. We need to let our children be what we see as "bad" sometimes. We all are "bad" sometimes. But it helps all of us grow - as parents and as children! 

I try and imagine myself if somebody sat in my face all day saying "you can't do that. you can't eat that. only one, not two. you can't say that. don't hit. don't touch. you can't watch that show. no. no. no." I would FOR SURE cry too in fact, I would probably HIT somebody, as my youngest does. ;) That's really frustrating. 

So keep your chin up & give yourself a big pat on the back. 

That's what I think. 

That's my theory.