I don't know what it is lately, maybe it's the water, but my daughter and some of her friends have been testing limits like crazy! My parent friends have been telling me that their children have been breaking rules at home and at school and all I have to say is, "ugh, the terrible 2's!". My child has been told that toys are not for throwing, but she will take one of her Little People, look at me and smile and throw it. If that's not testing limits, I don't know what is.
So I took out my go-to parenting book again (How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk)
to refresh as it had been 6 months since I had flipped through it. And in the first chapter on "Helping Children Deal With Their Feelings," I realized that I was doing the same things that the authors had been guilty of at first-negating your child's feelings! Since I had last read this chapter, my child had just turned 2 and was not talking as much so it didn't really apply.
Now that she is talking ALL the time, I have found myself, gasp, telling her what you're not supposed to do, telling her she isn't feeling something! For example, the other day she was taking a bath and she said, "mommy the water is too hot!" It was cold to me so I said, "no it's not, it's cold" because I wanted her to get in the bath. I was basically sending her the message that her mommy is not listening to her and not accepting her feelings or opinions.
And no that's not my only example, I have found myself telling her she is wrong about certain things lately. And I know she is 2 and a part of it is me wanting to teach her things, but it's important to first acknowledge you have heard your child, and then let them know if there is a limit to set or give them a choice. So in the bath example I should have said, "I know you think it's hot and you don't want to get in the bath, so let's put some more cold water in it and then we can test it first!"
I love this quote from the book: "When kids feel right, they'll behave right!"
"And how do we help them feel right?"
"By accepting their feelings!"
Here are some of the quotes from the book that sound a lot like what I've been doing. Yikes!
Child: "Mommy I'm tired"
Parent: "No you're not tired, you just woke up"
Child: "But I'm tired" (whining)
Parent: "You're not tired, you're just a little sleep. Now it's time to get dressed"
Child: "No I'm tired!"
Child: "Mommy it's hot in here"
Parent: "It's not hot, it's cold"
Child: "No I'm hot"
Parent: "It's cold, keep your sweater on"
Child: "No I'm hot"
Or.. watching your child cry, "Why are you crying? You don't need to cry, there's no reason to feel sad."
It's so easy to quickly dismiss our little one's feelings and opinions, but being heard and understood is going to go a long, long way with them. I always try to put myself in their shoes too, and if my husband told me I was wrong in that I wasn't tired, I shouldn't feel mad or sad, or I'm not cold, I would be one unhappy girl and probably throwing some sort of adult temper tantrum :)
So yep, once again I have made some parenting mistakes, as a child counselor. But I see it as a learning experience and so glad I at least recognized what I was doing so I can be more aware of it from now on. And it's going to be one of many, many mistakes I will be making. Yeah, just wait until the next post :)