Saturday, August 3, 2013

Serenity Now

Looking back at my posts from a few weeks ago, I could tell I was anxious and feeling gloomy. I was frustrated at myself for not knowing how to “control” my son’s behavior and couldn't figure out why he was acting out. I was in a constant circle of frustration, anger and guilt and had difficulty getting to the root of my problem.

I tried all sorts of things to calm down. Running, yoga, the “Serenity Now!” mantra from Seinfeld and still felt really bad.

I realized that a lot of our spats were about control. I would demand he go to the living room and play with his toys while I cooked because I was busy. I would demand he would sit on a bench at the laundromat, I would demand he hurry up in the morning because we were running late or was in a rush to get home and cook in the evening.

When he would say "No!" I would become agitated because he wasn't the well behaved little boy I imagined I would have that does exactly what I say when I say. When I would raise my voice and yell, he would yell back. Then his yelling turned to hitting and biting.

After I stopped focusing on not yelling and just chilling out and enjoying him, things have changed so much for the better. I've realized that being a good parent isn't necessarily about throwing out commands and your kid listens, its about forming a close relationship with your child that will last through adulthood; one that is built on trust, understanding and love.

Our children learn so much from us based on their interactions with us. What could I possibly expect him to learn from me if I’m yelling, short tempered and always too busy to spend time with him? How could I expect him to want to confide in me as he gets older if he thinks I’m only going to yell at him for saying something I don’t like?

Toddlers are constantly proving their independence. He’s constantly saying “Let me do it!” and “Leave me!”. Now that I've been giving him more freedom to do things for himself like put the ice in his sippy cup and apply his own toothpaste he’s been a lot happier. Instead of pushing him away so I can cook, I find little ways to let him help me so he at least feels included. I've also been cooking after he goes to bed so we can spend more time playing and reading in the evening.

We get up earlier in the morning. We have time to squeeze in a story or two if he wants or he has some time to play before we head out to daycare. We can take our time at looking and talking about the flowers and the trees on our way there. We can stop and stare at construction since he is obsessed with construction.

I give him more choices. Not choices like “do you want McDonald's or vegetables for dinner?” but choices between two equally good options when it comes to what he eats, drinks and wears. I don’t get upset when he doesn't want to eat dinner or take a bath right away, and I give him that extra five or ten minutes to play and he happily obliges when I remind him its time.  

Things have been good. I have learned to enjoy our time and make the best out of all we do. I have learned its important to not focus and worry on things I can’t control and just deal with what I can’t change and change what I can. Your kid can sense when you’re overly stressed or anxious. It’s true what people say; they grow up so fast so make sure you enjoy them.