There she stands, hands clenched, nostrils flared, eyebrows scrunched, she has taken a stand against injustice, unfairness, and all that is wrong with the world, but mostly against her oppressive and tyrannical mother who has asked her to get out of the car and into the school of her own volition. She is usually my bubbly, cheerful, sparkly eyed daughter of whom her preschool teacher asked, “but seriously, she’s your favorite right?”
For the last few months, though, something seems to be amiss. It started with more frequent potty accidents, small refusals to come when called or pick up when asked and has now escalated into a full out mutiny. While some of her behavior is to be expected (apparently 5 is a stage when we should expect rebellion) I realized that my reaction to her disagreeableness was, at times, making the problem just a little bit worse as detailed below.
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Mistake #1: Not seeing her for who she really is.
As worthy just because she is. In her book Kids Are Worth It! , Barbara Coloroso, says
“[children] are not ours to possess, control, manipulate, or even to make mind…They are gifts to us…We need to encourage members of this next generation to become all that they can become, not try to force them to become what we want them to become.”
This is my #1 mistake because it underlies all the rest. She is not mine and I don’t control her anymore than I control anyone else. A remote control would be nice, but it would not help her to become the person she is supposed to be, for that she probably needs her strong independent spirit along with a healthy dose of love, correct knowledge and encouragement.
Mistake #2: Being wishy washy on rules or routine
I’m tired of making people do stuff, I frankly, don’t want to do myself and I have decision overload. So, when they’re tired, I’m tired, their Dad is tired, I’ve been letting chores and learning goals slide and when I do it’s like starting all over again, which pretty much always leaves to a power struggle the next time, which just leads to more exhaustion.
Mistake #3: Putting a big flashy sign on punishments or rewards.
In Redirect by Timothy D. Wilson the author argues that;
“The danger of going overboard with rewards and threats is that your kids will not internalize the values you are trying to impart, but will instead come to believe that they are obeying you simply to earn your love or avoid your wrath.”
One of my core beliefs, as a mom, is that kids should make their own good choices because they have decided for themselves it is the right thing to do. I wasn’t encouraging that though. Instead, I was immediately threatening the biggest punishment I could think of-no TV for a day-and when that didn’t work, I was out of ideas and patience. Not worth it my friends.
Mistake #4: Making every request for obedience of equal importance.
Would I like her to match once in a while, eat off a yellow rather than a pink plate without a total meltdown and turn off the show immediately after it’s done? Yes—yes, I would. But those requests are not as important as the request to not hit her brother. However, I was making them all the same, which was not only wearing her down, but me as well. If you want to get a twitch in your eye, make sure you give a preschooler an infinite amount of rules, for which they must immediately comply every time.
Of course, the fact that I’m recognizing these mistakes at all leads me to my final faux pas.
Mistake #5: Thinking that Moms don’t make mistakes.
Okay, I don’t know if I really thought I didn’t make mistakes, but how often have I not factored that into the equation when I’m having a hard time.
Adam Osborne was an author and software developer, who said:
“The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake-you can’t learn anything from being perfect.”
If that’s true for someone whose living was developing software, it’s certainly true for a mom developing children. Mistakes are a part of motherhood. By looking at these mistakes, I was able to make a few changes, and with those changes or the passage of time, I can’t tell which, she and I seem to be in a much happier place these days.
Write it down in a journal,
talk it over with a friend or
leave a comment below or on Facebook.