Thursday, April 19, 2007

Not Just By Court Order

Lately I haven't been the parent I want to be.

I'm impatient.

I nitpick.

I criticise.

I yell.

I threaten but don't follow through.

I swat.

I'm not even close to the mother I envisioned I'd be. I want better for my children. I don't want them to grow up in fear of me.

Last night in an effort to better understand my parental frustrations and limitations I headed for the neighborhood Borders bookstore. I bought a stack of books that nearly obscured my view of the buzz-headed female cashier who rang me up. The two books at the top of my paperback tower were The Anger Diet by Brenda Shoshanna, Ph.D. and the newly revised edition of Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.

Today I signed up for a class at the local Exchange Club called Breakthrough Parenting, which focuses on handling tantrums, getting at the source of parent and child anger/conflict. The lady who answered the phone asked me to bring my court order. When I responded, "I'm self-appointed," she seemed confused.

"Wait ... You want to voluntarily take this class?" she asked.

"Of course. I'm the kind of person who when I see myself slipping, I search for ways to improve. I want to be the best mother to my children that I can be."

"Good for you."

She seemed shocked, just like my neighbor when I told her I wanted to brush up on my parenting skills in the wake of Cheeks' rash of thrice daily temper tantrums (throwing and breaking stuff, kicking, hitting, spitting ... horrid shit all around).

While I know it's not healthy to model perfection for my children, I know modeling healthy ways to deal with and get to the roots of anger will benefit our whole family. When I see something wrong in myself, then see it negatively affecting and manifesting in my children, I seek to remedy it. Hopefully my children will see me growing and changing for the better and their anger will subside as a result.

I'd like to write more (and more eloquently) but Pigtails just woke up crying from a nap. She has a double ear infection. Cheeks has a single. The Lawyer, along with both of his sibs, has bronchitis accompanied by a nasty wet cough.

Crazed cat update - Our new cat mama seems to have chilled a bit. No more unprovoked attacks on Pigtails or any of the children. She's still skittish but nurturing her brood just fine.

How do you deal with anger in the heat of the moment in front of the kids or otherwise?

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At 4:32 PM, Blogger crazymumma said...

I just wrote about anger today over at my place.

No one is perfect. I think you are doing something wonderfully proactive because dealing with temper tantrums whining oh gawd the list goes on is just bloody hard and we need all the help we can get.

Most of the time I can keep a lid on my temper, but, like everyone else I blow sometimes. Then feel like a failure.

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also blow up sometimes. When I get angry, I try to get a handle on it and tell myself I'm an adult and I can and will control myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.

When I am really, really angry, I'll speak quietly so as to scare the hell out of the children. They know if I'm speaking softly, there will soon be hell to pay, haha.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger Em said...

I think it is awesome that you are tackling this head on...resolving things rather than letting them linger. I'm certainly no role model when it comes to anger management. My wife and I have taken classes, read books, and done some family therapy. Having a kid with multiple special needs can push a lot of buttons! Having worked on this a lot and meditated a lot, I'm better than I used to be. But I still blow up at times. Yell and scream and then put myself in time out till I calm down.

At 7:04 PM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

Yeah..I am at that state too...I need help.

I shout waaay too much.
I have been trying new tactics with Adam..instead of basically wailing back at his screams I keep a calm tone...i sympathize with him.. I tell him I get it and that he needs to calm down enough to talk to me ....

If he isn't listening we keep at it.
I took him on for a time in WITH me today...

But we are also going to a ped soon (hopefully) for behavior issues and hopefully they can show me some help too!

I used to go to this Life as a Parent thing but they are so finicky about childcare that I gave was good group though..verrry helpful.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Cass said...

I grew up in a household where yelling was the "preferred" method of parenting...the "reaction" lifestyle. Its so easy to get into the mode. The thing that I have surprised myself lately with is I find being proactive so much easier and less stressful...of course, it takes a lot of extra planning...but it seems to pay off in the long run. I do a lot of "discussions" before we go to stores or in public situations where tantrums could occur, a lot of negotiating and deal making...Being a parent takes way more creativity than I ever expected.

At 7:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When LA Toddler gets too angry I just lock her in the closet. I throw in some raw meat every now and then to keep her at bay.

No, I've been this way lately as well. LA Mommy and I try to use Time Outs, not as punishment but as a way to cool down for any of us before we get too angry.

We go to our neutral corners and calm it down. It really does help. In some situations - in others, I need the closet and the raw meat...

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Lara said...

i'm a huge fan of time outs, both when dealing with kids and for myself. i think some people don't use them correctly - they become punishments. but time outs should be exactly that: taking time out to calm down before dealing with a situation. i'm always much better if i can take some time away from the issue to think things through calmly. when i was a nanny, the 3-year-old i worked with used to have tantrums, and i would tell him that it was okay for him to be upset, but not okay for him to scream at me or hit me. so then we would walk together to his room, and i would tell him that he could stay in the room and scream there if he wanted, and when he felt calmer and ready to talk in a more appropriate tone of voice, he was welcome to come back out and talk to me again. i like that better than giving a time limit, because it really shows him that this is time for him - hence he has as much or little as he needs.

i'm not sure it's always going to be the best strategy, but it's the one that most often works for me.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Cammy said...

My son was having a lot of tantrums when he first turned three. I bought him this book called When I'm Feeling Angry. I found it to be really helpful for allowing us to dialogue about anger if nothing else.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger Charlotte said...

I'm with you on feeling angry. I've never been a shouter, but since having kids, I tend to have my moments, particularly with one of my children. I find it easiest to stop her behaviour early by giving a time out, rather than let it escalate to a point where we're both screaming and the other two are cowering in a corner. Now that she is five it is starting to work, but it has been a long, hard road.

Good luck, and well done for being proactive. I would love to hear what you think of the books.

At 5:32 AM, Blogger cce said...

When I used to live in warmer climes, I would just walk out the front door and piddle around in the garden for a few moments until I could get it together and return to the hellions inside. I'd say, "Mom's taking a time out" and explain that I don't like being with them when they behave like wild animals. This seemed to snap them out of more than a few wicked tantrums with the knowledge that they were being unpleasant enough to warrant my leaving. Try it, at least you'll have a few moments away from the frackus.

At 8:16 AM, Blogger Mama Sarita said...

I really hear you.

I know for myself I know that when I am really stressed out and just over done I am really yelly. I tend to be a yeller anyway. I too have been seperating the diva child and myself when she is having a massive tantrum. I completely remove the O2 from the fire. She really wants an audience so I remove myself...and I can take some deep breaths. I affirm her frustration/anger/ bla bla and let her know we can talk when she is ready but she may not sass/yell/hit/kick me. She is really verbal so the tantrums make me crazy. I wish she would just talk to me but it is asking a bit much from a not quite three year old.

I really admire your candidness and desire to do your mommy best and learn. I hope that something shakes up for you guys. I really know how hard it is on everyones patience and temperments when kids are sick for long periods of time.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Sara said...

When I feel like shouting, I tell my kids beforehand that I'm about to freak out on them, and then they often calm down in response.

Once I've calmed my own self down, I try to identify what need of my own is causing me to feel in opposition to my kids` needs.

The Spirited Child book was very helpful to me in understanding my "spirited child."

At 3:13 AM, Blogger jeanie said...

Judging by my actions today, not very well!!! But in the main, giving myself time out, reminding myself I am the parent - all the book sh!t. My daughter and I are too similar, however, and so when we push buttons we can really press them!

I am amazed at the woman wanting your court order. Over here there is a scheme called triple-P or something, and it is about positive parenting and its almost social the way some schools hold it.

Haven't been to one (yet) although after today may need to see if there is a better route...

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