Hello darlings! Before I start I want you to know that in the captioned picture above my daughter had not been yelled at. I didn’t make her sad and take a picture. That picture was taken right before bed time. She was getting sleepy and wanted to cuddle up with her Big Lamby. But it’s an adorable picture and portrayed what she could look like when she is sad. Now, some of you might not know it but sometimes I have a temper. Especially when my little ones make big messes or destroy things. And I have a big mess maker. She enjoys spreading things on the floor, or coloring on things she shouldn’t. A little bit ago a big mess happened. I want to tell you about it and give you some tips for keeping your cool when the kiddos make trouble. Our girls love Goldfish crackers! We buy the big box so it lasts a while longer. The huge 30 oz box that looks like this:
Have you ever wondered what this big box of crackers would look like dumped all over the floor? Me neither. But apparently my daughter did. I’ll save you the trouble of getting your own box to pour on your floor and show you. It looks a lot like this:
I had just emptied the vacuum a few hours earlier but all those Goldfish still filled it to the top. And then some.
When it was all cleaned up I talked to Lyla and told her that was a naughty thing to do. I explained that when we make messes it’s hard to clean up, putting food on the floor ruins the food and can bring ants (which she hates!), and it makes Mommy sad. I also explained her consequences: time out, no tv, and we won’t buy Goldfish any more.
Now, the no buying Goldfish thing might only be for one or two grocery trips to teach her a lesson. I’ll tell her why we can’t have them when we walk by them at the store. But after a while it loses its potency.
This was a pretty great discipline day. Usually with days like this I end up getting super frustrated and start yelling. I get overly angry with my daughter, even though I don’t mean to. I never hit or hurt her. I don’t spank her or swear or anything. But when I yell I sound really mean. And to a four year old that can be scary. Plus it doesn’t seem to do any good. She doesn’t learn anything and starts throwing a tantrum. And I feel ashamed of myself for being so out of control afterward. I’ve been working very hard to be able to stop yelling. I still use a stern, firm voice when I need to. But I try not to fly off the handle and yell.
Here are some steps I take to handle the messy situations that seem to come up a lot with kids. Maybe you can use them too.
I know, I know. Totally cliché. Everyone says “just breathe.” But I’ve found that closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths really does help. Sometimes I even say it out loud, “just breathe.”
This is what really helps me the most. Whether there’s a huge mess or I’m having a bad day. Prayer. Can’t say it enough. Take a minute. Lock yourself in your room or the bathroom if you need to. The mess can wait a moment for you to get yourself together. Give yourself a quiet minute with your Heavenly Father. Tell him what’s wrong and ask for help. Most times I ask for patience and to remember the love I have for my beautiful daughters. It never fails. I always feel more calm and able to handle things after prayer.
3. Fix the problem.
If a mess was made, clean it. If something was destroyed, do your best to fix it. Sometimes I’ll have my daughter help me with this. But most times I enjoy doing it on my own. I put my daughter in her room or the living room, away from the disaster. Then I take the quiet time to work out the stress on the problem instead of on my daughter. The work helps. Just like regular cleaning or exercise. It helps me focus on the task at hand, not my anger at the whole situation. By the time I’m done any lingering anger has dissipated and I’m ready to talk calmly with my little girl.
Remember how much you love that little angel. Remember how lucky you are to have them. Use this feeling when you go to talk to your child. I try to remember my first time holding them. Those are two of the happiest moments in my life. If I focus on the love and joy of those moments my tiny devil child suddenly turns back into the innocent princess that knows no better and only needs to be taught.
Try to hear your words through your child’s ears and try to find a way to make them understand. Even if you’ve already explained something a million times. I swear it took Lyla ten times to learn not to color on walls.
Not only forgive your child but yourself. If you slip up, lose your temper, and yell at your child, forgive yourself. I’ve had times where I’ve lost my cool and yelled at Lyla. Then I felt bad about it. When that happens I like to take a minute and talk to her about it. I sit down with her and tell her I’m sorry for getting so angry. Then I explain what I should have in the first place. I always make sure to give her a hug and tell her how much I love her. Sometimes anger gets the best of us. But there’s always next time so move on and try to keep improving.
I hope you found this useful. It’s a long road to control frustration, but worth it if you really try. I’ve found Lyla is better behaved when I take the time to calm down and handle things without yelling at her. Parenting is tough. Sometimes something that works with one child doesn’t work with the other. I’ve found, with Lyla, a reward system works best. If you’re having troubles finding what works, hang in there. Talk to other parents, try new things. Everything will work out in time. Once we get past the yelling and learn what works we can focus on the fun. And it will be so worth it!