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Less than gentle touch

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Most of the time I am able to speak positively, offer clear but limited choices, give my DD space to be herself and do her thing, and see the world through her eyes, etc.  I want so much to give my daughter what I didn't get myself.  But then there are the times that my temper is short and my patience runs so thin.  


I do not yell and I do not spank.  But I do get very angry under the surface and feel like my touch really conveys this.  


Here is an instance.  My 3 yo DD loves to play in the car.  The minute she is out of her car seat (or if we are trying to get into the car seat) she will climb as fast as she can into a different seat (usually in the front where she tries to lock all the doors).  There have been times that it isn't a big deal and I can give her a few minutes to play.  Other times we need to be moving on and the only option is to get straight out of the car.  


I'll let her know directly but kindly, we are getting out now.  I'll try to distract her with something fun we are about to go do.  If I can't get her out with redirecting her attention, I'll try a choice.  Usually, it goes like this... "You have a choice.  You can come out on your own (or get in your car seat on your own, if we are trying to get in) or I will do it for you."  Then I count to 3 to give her time to shift gears.  Perhaps 10% of the time she will actually come out on her own.  But most of the time I have to get her.  And by this point, I am very frustrated. 


So, here is the tough part.  I need to physically move her.  And I'm starting to get angry (although really trying to not show it).  And she is resisting. And I start to pull.  And she resists.  And I pull harder.  And I am now really angry. Then she says she wants to do it on her own.  So I let her try.  And she just runs to a place that is harder for me to reach her instead of getting out.  And we start again....   And I can just feel that the quality of my touch is not at all loving.  It is angry.  Even if I'm not hitting I can feel that my touch is sending a message of anger as I'm grabbing her to pull her screaming out of the car.  


Another example...   Just before nap time she has removed all of her clothes.  No big deal.  But as I'm getting things ready to brush her teeth, she starts to pee on her bedroom carpet; something she hasn't done in ages.  It just seems so deliberate (my judgement, I know).  I grab her midstream and run her into the bathroom. And I'm angry.  So it isn't the gentle "pee belongs in the potty" response where I gently shepherd her onto the toilet.  It is "what are you doing?!?!  Why are you doing that?!?!"  and I race her at arms length at put her onto the toilet not so gently.  Again, it isn't really hurtful, but it also isn't gentle.  


I don't know if this makes sense at all, since it isn't like I'm spanking or hitting or pushing, etc.  It is just a very firm grip or physically overpowering her in order to get her to comply with what needs to happen.  I guess I just can't figure out how to do GD when physical direction is necessary my child is resisting.  And maybe it isn't GD if you have to force a child to do something in the first place.  


I guess the bottom line is that I feel that for all of my ability to hold back on my words and control my actions otherwise, I am still blowing it.  These moments where the need for physical contact with DD and my own frustration intersect seem to be my weak spot.  How can I do this differently?  I guess the best thing would be to not get to that point in the first place.  I just am at a loss with a very willful daughter (who has a very willful mother).



post #2 of 9
I don't know the answer, but just wanted to say I struggle in exactly the same way, and I know what you mean. Hoping to hear some good ideas on this thread.

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post #3 of 9

Oh, I know how hard that is.  I have always been a gentle person who doesn't anger easily, but when dd hit 2.5 or so, man did she start pushing my buttons in ways noone else could!


It is hard to curb habits.  For example, I find myself yelling before I realize it, so it's hard for me to remove yelling from my parenting because I haven't figured out how to catch myself BEFORE I start.  So, a very important first step is recognizing what you are doing and that you want to change it -- great job there!


Since you know the car seat thing is a trigger for you, maybe you can start there with some major focus on your part.  1)  I would never give her the second chance to run away from you after you start to move her; I don't think it benefits her any, and it just makes you angrier.  She can have another opportunity to do it herself next time you get in or out of the car.  2) As I was reading your post, I just kept seeing an image of myself scooping up my dd in a big, gentle, loving hug.  I wonder if you can try that?  Know that she is going to struggle, and know that she is looking for a response from you.  Imagine yourself protecting and loving her, tell her you're going to put her in her seat or take her out of the car, and gently and firmly do it.  (I don't mean you have to imagine that you love your child of course, I just mean to visualize the kind of loving touch you want to show her.)  If you can practice it in that scenerio, where you recognize the problem, then you can start to shift your habit.  It might also help to start shifting your thinking about it.  I know you already know this, but it can help to remind yourself that it is a phase, she is learning, and she needs your help.  Just because she can do it the way you want sometimes doesn't mean she's really capable of getting it together to do it every time you ask.  She is very young and is still developing very rapidly, physically, cognitively, and emotionally.

post #4 of 9

In situations like that, the only thing I've been able to come up with, is not to touch her at all until my anger has passed. Sometimes that means we're late for something because I wouldn't put her in her stroller or put her shoes on or whatever. 

I found though, that when I get mad and start grabbing her, I could easily hurt her. I can't pull on her and forcing her hurts us both. So I just wait and calm down and either she'll do it or I'll feel like I can pick her up without strangling her. I know that sounds awful. But sometimes I'm so mad and frustrated that I'm about an inch from knocking her into Tuesday- so I just keep my hands to myself.

post #5 of 9

Wow, I didn't realize until I read this thread that I'm not the only one who has this issue. I've been ashamed of myself for this very reason since my daughter was little. I don't hurt her, it's not that rough. I just know when I get really worked up my angry touch is undermining the calmness I'm .


Oh, and we had a similar situation in the car the other day with my 3-year-old. She was arching her back and jerking around so I couldn't buckle her car seat and we really needed to get home before the baby woke up hungry. I couldn't think of a meaningful choice to give her so I just gave up and got in the drivers seat and slammed the door in a huff. I felt like I was having the tantrum -- not a proud moment -- but at least I avoided the physical struggle.


Anyway, I know exactly what you're going through. No advice, just that. Thanks for posting this.

post #6 of 9

I struggled with this, too, when my older child was 2ish.  I made a conscious effort to keep my hands off him when I wasn't calm.  That was about 5 years ago, and I have a younger dc, and it's really not an issue anymore.  When I'm mad, I just don't touch them.  Timeouts in my house are mine.  It's easier now that they're 7 and 4.  They pushed my buttons so much more when they were really little, which is sad.

post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by Think of Winter View Post

I struggled with this, too, when my older child was 2ish.  I made a conscious effort to keep my hands off him when I wasn't calm.  That was about 5 years ago, and I have a younger dc, and it's really not an issue anymore.  When I'm mad, I just don't touch them.  Timeouts in my house are mine.  It's easier now that they're 7 and 4.  They pushed my buttons so much more when they were really little, which is sad.

I get why that makes us feel sad, but I also think it's totally normal.  When our dd was 2 both dh and I had a hard time keeping our temper, but now that she's 4 it is much easier.  Even though she still does things that enfuriate us, she is so good at communicating now, and so much more reasonable that it is a lot easier to handle sometimes.  She really never thrashes around throwing limbs out that accidentally hurt us, etc.  We never have to hold her down to strap her in the car seat or get her dressed.  1.5-3 are really hard years, and I think it's okay to acknowledge that it is hard for us.  It doesn't mean we love our children any less.  Of course we never want to feel the urge to hurt our child, but I also think it is really normal for that to happen sometimes, and it is so great that those of us in this conversation are thinking about how to keep everyone safe and happy in these situations.


post #8 of 9

Whoa. I'm in this same boat too. Recently I've noticed that dd (almost 2.5) does the same thing with her friends. ie: she'll RIP a toy out of the friend's hand instead of taking it gently or even using words. I can usually keep my voice under control, but if she's, oh, smashing her fork in to the table and making dents in the furniture despite repeated requests to stop, I often find myself removing said fork with way more force thaqn necessary. I hate doing it, and I really hate that it is modelled enough for her to be imitating it with her peers. I feel a fool for not even thinking about the whole, "just don't touch her" thing. Must try that tomorrow!

I sometimes have success just muttering to myself, "Gentle hands, gentle words", over and over and over again when I'm starting to lose it.

Are there other suggestions too?

post #9 of 9

These are such great responses. Reading them is making me feel less bad about this issue.


One thing I have been trying lately that I think is helping: It sounds funny, but I pretend DS is a little baby again. It is easy for me to be gentle with my 5 month old, but I think having  a baby in the house makes DS look so much bigger and older, and makes me less patient with him. And really, a lot of the time I think he is wanting to be babied a bit. So, when I have to physically move him, I try to think of the way approach moving my baby--not punitively, just because that's what needs to happen right now. It's helping me to remember that older DS is my baby too, just in a bigger body. 

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