It’s been 24 hours since George left on a business trip (it might last a month…three……four…who knows….just too long). Last week Baby E and I were really sick and spent most of our days horizontal…the result: Sweetpea got to watch three seasons of “How to Train Your Dragon” episodes…probably several times. Judge me if you will but fevery achiness…it’s just what happened.
So now the result of said TV watching combined with George’s departure equals a lot of three year old emotions (threenager anyone?). When she told me she hated me I was hurt. When she called me a liar and a spy I thought maybe it was from the TV. It was (the spy part is what tipped me off). I asked her where she heard these words…”Heather said to Dagger that he was a liar and a spy…Snotlout said he hated Hiccup”…she said with a glimmer of laughter in her eyes. Got it.
In all seriousness I want to think through this situation as I believe it will repeat over the next 15 something years.
- Initial Conditions (thanks for the framework dear old job):
- Major and abrupt change in family life
- Youngest sister now mobile and able to grab Sweetpea’s things
- Probably hungry (she’s definitely growing right now)
- Feeling neglected (due to the quick pack out and family illness)
- Slightly bored (most of her friends started school a week or so ago)
- Initiating Event:
- She was rude to me (either screamed at me, blew up on a toy, or was…three)
- I was impatient and emotionally drained (no excuse but the truth)
- Immediate Actions:
- I sent her to her room for 10 minutes
- She started crying
- She slammed her door repeatedly
- She screamed that she hated me and that I am a liar and a spy
First, I do not want hitting or spanking to be the answer. Second, I’m trying to be objective and remove my emotions from the situation. Third, as I listened to our daughter try to verbally hurt me I thought…what on earth am I going to do? I thought of removing all her toys. I thought of taking away the new activities. I thought about yelling at her. All I could do was fast forward this situation 12 years. She’s just going to leave. That’s what I would do (heck I had that plan at 12…complete with a runaway route, clothes to grow into, medicinal herb research and edible wild food recipes). Or she’s just become more destructive to me, herself, our home or family. I can hear the future eye roll, and the “whatever Mom…what can you do to me” attitude. Take away her holligram cellphone? Remove the contract from her phone service. Heck if I were her I’d emancipate faster than you can say my name. She’s three and already thinks she’s an adult (as did I)…so at 15. Yeah.
This Morning: Sweetpea feed the dogs. Mom, you need to add a please to that. Ok good point. Please. No Mom, you need to say it again. Alright…Sweetpea will you please go feed the dogs. Mom can you say that again with two pleases? Please go feed the dogs please. Very good Mommy. We always add a please.
Ha. That’s it. Control. Who has control. Sweetpea and I tend towards “type A” personalities you might say. We like control, we like to win, we’re goal oriented.
I’m going to fast forward that day to when I did lose my temper. I’m not proud of it. But I threw an adult-sized temper tantrum. I’m not going to pretend it was all that nice and tidy either. Completely wrong. Should not have. But did. When I realized I was being a complete @$$, I sat Sweetpea down and apologized to her.
“I’m only friends with Baby E and Daddy not you Mommy.” Sweetpea at preschool this morning (hands on hips)
So what can I do to avoid this situation again. Sweetpea needs to feel like she is in control. That’s fine. So what can I do to help her feel empowered but respectful.
- Eat. I get “hangry”.
- I’m really bad at remembering to eat (I don’t register hunger)
- Make sure Sweetpea eats. She gets “hangry” too.
- I can be the adult and step away from the explosion.
- “Ok Sweetpea, I see you’re upset, Mommy needs to take a time out.”
- I can verbalize that I’m having a difficult time with the situation.
- “I understand you’re upset, but I’m having a difficult time when you yell at me.”
- I can validate her emotions.
- “I would be angry too if X happened.”
- Have boredom busters
- I get bored when I’m “just” at home.
- So does she.
- Have a schedule when we’re “just” home.
- She kept asking what we were going to do that day.
- Here’s to sickness
- Have time just for Sweetpea and me (or Dad when he’s available).
- She kept asking George for a Daddy/Sweetpea day. (They had one before he left)
- Try to sit down when she’s having explosiveness and LISTEN (don’t be defensive).
- Her teacher does this and waits for Sweetpea to verbalize her thoughts.
- Try to be nurturing and not authoritative (yup that’s what I tend towards).
So let me combine the word parts:
“Sweetpea, I see you’re very upset. I understand that X is making you angry. I would be angry too. Mommy is getting upset right now. Give me a minute, and let’s talk about this.”
Ok that’s items 3, 4, and 5. The others…I just need to do. We’ll see how it works out.