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What's the trick to motherhood?

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
Seriously. I feel like big eyes are watching me to see if I can pass this test called motherhood. Am I'm failing. I want to have nice, well-behaved kids so I'm on them all day correcting them. Saying the same things, 20 times a day. No hitting, no this, no that.....I take away toys, give time outs, natural consequences and by the end of the day, I've taken away the very things they need to burn energy - bikes, various toys.

I question every decision I make - was it the right one, maybe I should have said 'that' instead. How do you get a toddler to correct behavior? Why do they say they understand and then within minutes go do it again??? Seriously, what is going on in their brains?

I've read most books, done most of all your ideas, purchased behavior programs - I'm doing all the ideas that you're thinking. I'm just sooooo worn out, out of ideas. Just perplexed.
post #2 of 45
IDK. If you figure it out, clue me in! I've been doing this for over 9 years now and still feel like a failure most of the time. Particularly in the realm of gentle discipline. I sincerely suck at it.
post #3 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
IDK. If you figure it out, clue me in! I've been doing this for over 9 years now and still feel like a failure most of the time. Particularly in the realm of gentle discipline. I sincerely suck at it.
me too maybe step back and relax a little? some days it seems like i am just yelling and no-ing everything. it is frustrating for both of us, so i create a space or go somewhere they can be "free" . it seems to help. for the most part my kids are pretty easy going and i still feel like i am not doing it "right" (bedtime, meals, etc)
post #4 of 45
I've found that when I'm struggling with my littles, there is usually an underlying theme. I can correct until I'm blue in the face, but they aren't listening or don't seem to care. If I really observe what they are doing that is such a problem, I can usually find ONE thing to address. Oftentimes, misbehavior is symptomatic of a bigger problem.

I am not exactly interested that they stop breaking their toys, yelling in the house, leaving their clothes everywhere, or what-have-you. Correcting all those little things frustrates everyone, and is little more than nagging. Your way, their way is really all it comes down to.

I AM interested that they learn respect, kindness, etc. So, instead of "getting after" them for things that kids do (and things that I do when I'm lazy, honestly), I focus much more on the character traits that I wish them to remember always. Don't touch the books on that shelf is only a rule for today. Respecting the property of others is a rule for all people, for example.

That cuts my words down dramatically. Instead of nagging them about putting their bikes away, I can say, "Are you respecting Daddy's hard work to buy that bike for you?" And I can then easily think of lessons to show the value of hard work, and to encourage them not to squander the gift of a bicycle.

Or, I can say, "Mrs. So and So is Mama's friend. Did you respect that relationship when you said x? Is that showing Mrs. So and So kindness?"

In the moment of conflict, I can simply say (in many situations), "You are not respecting me/other person/property/etc, and you will have to sit down where I can watch you." (Or whatever.) It's a big line in our house that "people who can't be trusted must be watched.

This is getting pretty wordy, but I also don't say things more than once. Sometimes I will say them in different ways, especially for my 5yo who is prone to misunderstand, but I say something ONE time, and then hold them accountable. No amount of pleading or apology mitigates the conseqence. And for my 5yo, we remind her frequently that if she is not sure she understands, it is HER responsibility to say so and get clarification. If she does not, then she is accountable.

That sounds ogre-like, but it really isn't. We encourage questions and discussion, we just hold everyone (even the grown-ups) to a certain standard.
post #5 of 45
The secrets we've learned so far:

- Have high expectations and let kids know

- Be firm

- Correct consistantly

- Model the behavior you want to see

- Be gentle, but not permissive

At the risk of bragging (ok, I am bragging), we have four really well-behaved children and get complimented when we take them out places.
post #6 of 45
Go outside. Seriously, going to the park, going for a walk cuts down the yelling and uncooperative behavior. Especially on your part. It's as much a break for mom as it is for the kids. It's amazing what a little physical exercise and fresh air can do. Be consistent. Have a routine to the day so they can anticipate what will come next. Build in pick up times so things are so overwhelming at the end of the day. And stop looking over your shoulder. It doesn't matter what other parents think or do. They aren't you. They don't have your kids and don't know your kids or have your life. You do. Mommy guilt does no one any good.
post #7 of 45
These are easier said than done, but here's my list:

(1) Realistic expectations are everything. Children pretty much "act their age" 100% of the time. Disclaimer: There is a fine line between expecting and labeling.

(2) When you are done being patient, find 5 more minutes of patience.

(3) Children's personalities, levels of impulse control, and temperament generally have not been caused by you or your parenting. (My motto: I take no credit and I take no blame.)

(4) Focus on problem solving, not blame.

(5) At the end of the day, you and your children will not remember your children's behavior, but you will all be dramatically influenced by your response. If you've modeled patience, kindness, and understanding, it was the right choice.

(6) The only person you can change is you.
post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies!

CherryBomb - "I've been doing this for over 9 years now and still feel like a failure most of the time."

uh-oh. I'm in for it!


Just1More - "I AM interested that they learn respect, kindness, etc. So, instead of "getting after" them for things that kids do (and things that I do when I'm lazy, honestly), I focus much more on the character traits that I wish them to remember always. Don't touch the books on that shelf is only a rule for today. Respecting the property of others is a rule for all people, for example."

I touch on respect once in a while, so this is a great reminder to do it more - and make it THE focus of my corrections rather than the immediate action.

Phathui5 - "The secrets we've learned so far:

- Have high expectations and let kids know

- Be firm

- Correct consistantly"

I feel like we have high expectations and thus the constant correcting. So how can you have high expectations and NOT be a nag?

A few of you mentioned going outside - we do a walk, bike ride almost every day. It is more of a headache than a pleasure. "Stay on the edge" "Stay near me" "Don't get too far ahead" etc.... I'm constantly shouting out directions and it's not relaxing. Yesterday, I took bike rides away for a week because they got so far ahead I couldn't see them. So we did a walk today and it was all complaining - it was all I could do to not turn around because they need it.
post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 
Mizelenius -
Quote:
(3) Children's personalities, levels of impulse control, and temperament generally have not been caused by you or your parenting. (My motto: I take no credit and I take no blame.)

(4) Focus on problem solving, not blame.

(5) At the end of the day, you and your children will not remember your children's behavior, but you will all be dramatically influenced by your response. If you've modeled patience, kindness, and understanding, it was the right choice.
#3 - I can only hope, sometimes I think my less than stellar parenting has caused some of his reactions.

#4 - yes, on good days!

#5 - failure. But a great thing to remember.
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nansense View Post
Thanks for your replies!

CherryBomb - "I've been doing this for over 9 years now and still feel like a failure most of the time."

uh-oh. I'm in for it!


Just1More - "I AM interested that they learn respect, kindness, etc. So, instead of "getting after" them for things that kids do (and things that I do when I'm lazy, honestly), I focus much more on the character traits that I wish them to remember always. Don't touch the books on that shelf is only a rule for today. Respecting the property of others is a rule for all people, for example."

I touch on respect once in a while, so this is a great reminder to do it more - and make it THE focus of my corrections rather than the immediate action.

Phathui5 - "The secrets we've learned so far:

- Have high expectations and let kids know

- Be firm

- Correct consistantly"

I feel like we have high expectations and thus the constant correcting. So how can you have high expectations and NOT be a nag?

A few of you mentioned going outside - we do a walk, bike ride almost every day. It is more of a headache than a pleasure. "Stay on the edge" "Stay near me" "Don't get too far ahead" etc.... I'm constantly shouting out directions and it's not relaxing. Yesterday, I took bike rides away for a week because they got so far ahead I couldn't see them. So we did a walk today and it was all complaining - it was all I could do to not turn around because they need it.

i would find somewhere else to ride honestly. somewhere where they are safe and you don't have to keep on them. because yeah, that isn't fun for anyone! we don't go for many walks unless i know my toddler can run free or he will stay in the stroller, because telling a toddler where to walk, don't go in the street. yeah i am saying it every 2 seconds and it kinda puts a damper on things.

and i agree with age appropriate expectations.
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
These are easier said than done, but here's my list:

(1) Realistic expectations are everything. Children pretty much "act their age" 100% of the time. Disclaimer: There is a fine line between expecting and labeling.

(2) When you are done being patient, find 5 more minutes of patience.

(3) Children's personalities, levels of impulse control, and temperament generally have not been caused by you or your parenting. (My motto: I take no credit and I take no blame.)

(4) Focus on problem solving, not blame.

(5) At the end of the day, you and your children will not remember your children's behavior, but you will all be dramatically influenced by your response. If you've modeled patience, kindness, and understanding, it was the right choice.

(6) The only person you can change is you.

these are all great !
post #12 of 45
It does sound like you need a better place to ride, but if you want to ride/walk in that area, it might be a good idea to have practice runs where you explain your expectation before you take them out and let them know you need them to practice riding/walking safely.

Quote:
I feel like we have high expectations and thus the constant correcting. So how can you have high expectations and NOT be a nag?
I guess that depends what you consider nagging. I won't repeat myself about the same thing over and over again. What I will do if a child isn't obeying a direction is first make sure they understand what I'm asking of them, and then put them in time out if it happens again.

Another thing with high expectations (for us) is that in asking a lot of them, not only have we gotten a lot from them in the way of polite behavior, but the times that they do slip up, it's little things like starting to be too loud at the dinner table, not whining or throwing a fit out in public.
post #13 of 45
I was just about paralyzed with fear over doing the "right" thing with DD from the day she was born. I was constantly afraid that I wasn't holding her enough, holding her too much, not paying enough attention to her, you name it. I was physically exhausted from lack of sleep, and mentally exhausted from all this doubt. I'm better today, but still not great.

Worse, I find myself losing patience when things are at their worst--usually when DD is fussy and fidgeting and keeping me awake at some ungodly hour of the night. I react with such impatience, and in the morning light I regret it and vow to do better the next time. But next time rolls around, and after hours of the same, I'm reacting out of impatience again.

I wish I knew the trick to motherhood. But I'd guess it has to do with learning to trust ourselves, to let go, to relax, to remember this too shall pass, to remind ourselves we'll miss this day someday, to smile more, to put ourselves in our kids' shoes.

But it's so hard sometimes, isn't it? So hard yet so important.
post #14 of 45
I question every decision I make - was it the right one, maybe I should have said 'that' instead. How do you get a toddler to correct behavior? Why do they say they understand and then within minutes go do it again??? Seriously, what is going on in their brains?>>>>>

What sort of behavior are you wanting a toddler to correct? Toddlers do the same things over and over b/c they lack control over their impulses, that just takes time
post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post

(5) At the end of the day, you and your children will not remember your children's behavior, but you will all be dramatically influenced by your response. If you've modeled patience, kindness, and understanding, it was the right choice.

(6) The only person you can change is you.
You said failure re: #5 but I want you to try to look at it a different way. Think about this. One of your statements is that you want "nice, well-behaved kids." First of all, I bet your kids are nice. "Well-behaved"-- again, this goes back to "Are they acting their age?" Because let me tell you, it's pretty hard for them to act any other age (except maybe younger!).

If you can FREE YOURSELF from the expectation of anything other than acting their age, then you are . . .free. Not only do people get frustrated (naturally) when children do something to make life difficult, but I think there is also a sense of panic. The frustration is real, but the panic is made-up. There's this assumption that if we don't "fix" the kid up NOW, then watch out later on . . .but this is false. I bet your toddler stumbles over words. May not know how to read yet. Are you worried that your toddler will never read? Never know how to speak proficiently? Do you see where I am going with this?

So, the next time someone does something to frustrate you, focus on finding an outlet for your feelings of frustration. Maybe it means you redirect somehow, make a joke, turn on the TV, get a glass of water, threaten him by saying if he doesn't stop doing __ then he is going to turn into a big, green, bumpy pickle, call a friend, or just sit on the couch and "be." Allow yourself the freedom to not fix him.

Oh, and one more thought. You said you say no a lot. Rephrase. When my girls were hitting each other yesterday, I had them each tell me things that we could do with our hands. They stopped hitting and that was that. Always, always focus on what they should be doing.

Also, re: toddler behavior. I will tell you that the most important tool here is prevention.

One final thought. A child who does not ask "why" questions cannot fully understand consequences. One more reason not to use time-outs with a toddler. Time-outs don't solve problems anyway. If they did, no one would have to use them more than a few times. Doesn't look like they work for all the people in jail . . .
post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nansense View Post
Thanks for your replies!

A few of you mentioned going outside - we do a walk, bike ride almost every day. It is more of a headache than a pleasure. "Stay on the edge" "Stay near me" "Don't get too far ahead" etc.... I'm constantly shouting out directions and it's not relaxing. Yesterday, I took bike rides away for a week because they got so far ahead I couldn't see them. So we did a walk today and it was all complaining - it was all I could do to not turn around because they need it.
How old are your children and how many do you have? Yes, it can be a major pain to get everyone ready to go. Especially if they are under 5. And sometimes that doesn't end even if they are 12 and he's the only one. But in the long run it is worth every minute of it. Where you walk/go is also important. Even if you have to drive, find a place where you aren't constantly directing. Let them explore and just run. They like to walk on the curb? Find a street (or park) where they can do that. They just want to run? Find a park or open field where they can do that. They want to climb? Find a park where they can climb. And this is where being consistent is important. The more it's done, the less you have to direct, the more they internalize the rules.
post #17 of 45
I don't think there's a trick. It's an issue of trying to get through each moment at a time.

What has helped me is to relax a bit, and specifically to not view every undesirable behavior as "disrespect" and "disobedience." Often, kids are just being kids and don't have any particular motivation like that. And I find it's much easier to respond calmly if I think "Dd is not behaving how I'd like her to" instead of "Dd is being disrepectful." Not taking things personally is not easy and is something I had to learn. When dd #1 was a baby, I took her colic personally, like it was something she was doing to me to make me upset, or that she didn't care how I felt. Looking back, that was ridiculous, but I think it's also not helpful to think of a 2-year-old as being "disobedient". They're 2, you know? They're in "I see I want I get" mode. There's no "is this OK? Can I do this?" going on in them yet.

Oh, and when I look at a behavior, I try to think of how I want my kids to behave when they're adults, not right now as kids. So I could get upset when my dd stands up to me and consider it to be disrespectful, but on the other hand I want my dd to grow to become a woman who stands up for herself, so I try to balance my desire for her to do what I tell her to do with my desire that she grow up to be a self-assured woman who won't put up with garbage from people.

And when I say "relax", I don't just mean about what the kids do. I try to relax about what I do as well. Some things aren't that big a deal in the long haul.
post #18 of 45
My tricks in no particular order:

1) Understanding what is normal for the age and what MY child is capable of


2) Meeting my own needs/filling my own cup - I may get flamed here - but sometimes we need to realize that not all of us are cut out to be full time stay at home moms, as much as our vision of motherhood was grounded in that ideal - I'm a much BETTER mom b/c I'm NOT with dd all.the.time. In fact, we have precious few hours during the week so we really treasure our time together and I LOVE sleeping with her (she's 6 yo BTW)

3) Letting go of others judgements/perceptions of how I parent/who my dd is (this can be a really tough one)

4) I'm convinced that parenting today is MUCH harder then for our moms - for a multitude of reasons - higher expectations of ourselves, our kids, fewer supports/less family near by - I know that I am doing the best I can and try as I might to NOT COMPARE - I do anyway, and I'm doing pretty well....

5) Lastly - accept that fact that we all screw up our kids, it's inevitable and just a matter of degree - just have them send you the therapy bill and all wil be forgiven (LOL - not serious here, but it's a fact of life that it's always easy to blame the parent - so go back to #3)
post #19 of 45
Great thread,

"(5) At the end of the day, you and your children will not remember your children's behavior, but you will all be dramatically influenced by your response. If you've modeled patience, kindness, and understanding, it was the right choice."

I love this. Something to meditate on.

Some tricks I try to do, not always successfully- some of these have already been mentioned.
1. Don't compare your kids behavior to other peoples kids behavior.
2. Find a friend who can actually openly talk about how awful their kids are being so you don't feel like your kids are the only ones who misbehave.
3. Just don't beat yourself. Whenever I start that, I can be sure the next ones I will start being mean to are my kids or husband.
post #20 of 45
A very wise person here once told me that all you can do is love and mother and hang in there-and don't kill them. She also promised me that it's okay to trust that my kids will be okay-now, in a week, in twenty years. They're resilient, and that's good because not one of us is a perfect mother. This person also pointed out to me that it's good for our kids to see that we aren't perfect, because they aren't going to be perfect either-we get to show them that imperfection is okay, we can cope with that and learn from mistakes.

She told me these things years ago. And now that I'm out of that "very little kid" stage, I have to say I think she's right. I think that's the trick, the secret. You do the best you can, you love them, you mother them. You hang in there. You remind yourself to relax and enjoy them as much as you can. You get through the hard times-they really do pass! It does get easier (then harder again, then easier...but overall I think it gradually becomes easier despite bumps in the road). You won't be perfect, neither will they. And that's okay. You'll get through, you'll be okay.

And fwiw, I do think that it helps to slow down, step away from the parenting books**(see below), and just try to be in the moment with your kids (even in all it's messy, ear-splitting, frustrating, horrid glory). Take a break from the voices that tell you what your kids should be doing and what you should be doing and that you're failing. Take time to nurture yourself so that you can be calmer when you interact with your kids, so that you have more energy to be compassionate and effective as a mother. You can't give when you're depleted.

(**to clarify, I love parenting books and have learned a lot from some of them. I value learning and building on my skills as a parent, both from experience and from advice others have to give. But I found that at some point I needed to take a break from books and advice in order to listen to my children and myself.)
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