Sunday, April 25, 2010

Emotional Outbursts

It's important to recognize that our moods shouldn't be linked to other people's moods and actions. I understand this fact with no problem at all, but the issue comes when I try to implement it as a practice. When William is having a challenging behaviour day (read: yesterday), I want to rip up my parenting card and quit. As far as I know, that isn't an option, and it bothers me that I'm so easily discouraged and pushed into a corner by my child.

So much of life is separating our expectations from reality. I am constantly working on lowering my expectations so I'm not so frustrated, but if I lower them too far, my kids will get away with poor behaviour because I won't be expecting enough from them. I don't want that either. I think it's a matter of managing our expectations, and separating our feelings from the situation we are in.

When William acts like the worst version of his four year old self, pushing limits and refusing to obey his mother, life would be much easier if I could remove my emotions from the moment and simply solve his behaviour like a puzzle. Usually I feel like a bull, pawing the ground while he waves a red flag in my face, and I charge. I go from calm and reasonable to enraged and furious in about two seconds flat.

From talking to other mothers, I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Our kids can bring out the strongest of emotions, from love to hate in a single moment. All relationships contain the seeds for these emotional reactions, but children seem to push our buttons the most violently.

Today I'm going to try a new strategy. I warned William from the time he woke up, that he will receive one warning today and then instant discipline. I will not waste the day being held hostage by his four year old moods and ideas. When he pushes the limits and refuses to do what is being asked of him, I will stop and take ten long seconds to breathe in and out, and fight to stay calm, before carrying out the discipline.

My job today is to avoid yelling and screaming like a crazy person at my small son. I am the parent, and he is looking to me to understand how to behave. I wasn't a very good example yesterday, but today is a new day, with another chance to get it right.

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