My daughter is eating me up.
My tricks and empty threats don’t work anymore. I count One…She chimes Two! I look into her eyes and say “Follow. Mommy.” She looks at me squarely and says “No”. In my heart I think Wild Thing! Her eyes say You betcha…Game on Mommy.
I can’t help but associate this new found defiance/confidence with her progress in class. This whole growing into her independence thing coincides with a testing of its powers. What a double-edged sword motherhood is! But how do you discipline with love and not with exasperation? How do you not react to tantrums and keep your wits intact? How do you demand respect without negating her sense of individuality?
I don’t know. I’m figuring it out.
Based on experience, losing the temper doesn’t work. It just results in guilt, wrinkles and a sore throat. No apology can erase the sight of seeing your mother lose it. I’m thankful she hasn’t learned resentment yet. And after all that drama, nothing even changes. She reacts with another act of defiance.
Sharing the issue with Hubby helps. He gets a taste of the tantrums in hors d’oeuvres sizes. So sometimes he thinks it’s cute. But he eventually gets his fill and can sympathize with my plight, my tantrum entrees if you will. He told me to remember that she’s two, to not give in, and to ignore her. Spoken like a true…man. It helped to talk it out.
Asking my friends worked for me best. I have a couple of friends I consider Kid Whisperers. They are approachable, sensible and really patient with my line of questioning– flow diagram style (what if this, what if that). So my KW coached me through the Time Out method. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like much of a punishment to me. Being sent to a room and being alone? That’s my version of heaven. I say leave me there and don’t come back! But as my husband said, “Babe. She’s not you. She’s TWO.”
I put the theory into practice. When the Wild Thing emerged, I kept my cool, declared a Time Out and walked her to the spare room. I closed the door and waited in the hallway, not knowing what to expect. She didn’t seem to know she was being punished. But the method proved itself when she came out crying after less than two minutes. It worked! (I know. I have been pushed so far off the edge that I’m happy to see my baby cry.) I pulled her back into the room and talked about her unbecoming behavior. I asked her to look me in the eye and say sorry. Her eyes were filled with tears and the sweet voice I know and love apologized to me. The remorse was apparent and my heart melted. We embraced and I whispered in her ear, “I’ll eat you up. I love you so.”
And that’s how I tamed my Wild Thing– for now.