Monday, September 14, 2015

One small successful parenting moment

 Mornings are always rushed and drama-filled in most households with kids, I am sure. It's no different in my house, even though I only have one child to get ready. It still takes patience and creativity and imagination on my part to get this tiny human being to hurry. He has no concept of time or the consequences of being late, and naturally, he wants to play games and talk and colour, instead of doing the boring stuff like getting dressed and ready. 

I totally understand. I too would rather play or read or dawdle than get dressed in a big rush. But, as the mom, it's my job to try hurry him along. Some mornings I manage and we are out of the door nice and early. Other mornings, we are a bit late, and the worst is when there are tears or an outburst, either from him or me because we are now stressed about getting out of the door on time. 

Yesterday was such a morning. Sometimes they start of bad and just get worse, with a small child. My son was just otherwise, and didn't want to do much. I told him he had to change his pants because the ones he had slept in had a hole in the bum and he couldn't wear them to school. (I have already sewn them up once and they are coming apart along the seam again.) There was no way I was letting him wear those pants to school, but he decided he wanted to. He started whining about wanting to wear them. Now I am a mother who picks her battles, and usually, when it's clothing related I don't fight. If he wants to wear green and purple I let him. If he insists on wearing his pyjamas to school, I let him. (I mean, he's only five, it really isn't a big issue.) But this pair with the gaping hole, I refused to let him wear. I explained nicely why and he still whined. I explained again and said a firm no and gave him another pair to wear but he still refused and really bumped up his moaning and whining. 

So I lost it. I shouted. I yelled "Stop it!" pretty loudly and then, for good measure, I threw in a "Stop your whining now! Just stop!" Which of course made  him cry. Now I had him wailing. Great. From bad to worse. And we were getting later and later. Now I told him to stop crying. Which naturally didn't work at all. He only cried harder. I took a deep breath. Now what? And then...a moment of clarity shone through. I simply took him in my arms and held him, patting him and hugging him. I said nothing. I just hugged my crying son and was present with him in his grief. 

And he stopped. His crying lessened, he sniffed, he gave a few more shudders and just stopped. It was like magic. The solution I never would  have thought of usually. But I decided to try something different. And it worked. I just decided to stop talking and simply be with him. And I knew that in that moment, he needed a hug. He didn't need me to say anything. Like any person who is crying, he just needed a hug. 

I realised that often children just need validation and they need to feel like we are with them, not against them, even if our request goes against their will. And then, once they feel seen and heard, they usually will co-operate. After that, my boy changed his pants and we got to school on time. 

Now I can't take all the credit for being a brilliant parent in that moment, because the willingness to try something new was definitely inspired by Dr. Shefali Tsabary's book “The Conscious Parent”.

This book is really good, and mostly all of what she says resonates with me. I saw her talk on an episode of Oprah;s Lifeclass and have also watched a few of her Youtube videos and she is considered revolutionary in what she says about parenting, although I think it's common sense if you're a tuned in parent. But yes, if you come from the old school style of disciplinarian and authoritarian parenting, she might seem hugely revolutionary. But my mother was a conscious parent (thank God for that) and so I can see the benefits of this style of parenting. 

I was lucky I had a moment of clarity the other morning and I hope to be more awake to the opportunities that being a parent provides on a daily basis. 

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