or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › My best isn't good enough...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

My best isn't good enough...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I have done my best to parent with Gentle Discipline, although like all of us some days are better than others. Lately my 3yo daughter has begun crying when she is upset and being disciplined, "nobody loves me", "nobody is here to take care of me", or "please be my friend". She says these things with tears flooding down her cheeks and an incredible amount of grief in her voice. When she is upset with us for telling her "no" she will say, "I want Papa/Mama. He/She loves me." 

 

As much as I use patience, calm words, reassurance of love, lengthy explanations while disciplining- how is it that she still doubts my love? It breaks my heart and I am worried that I have somehow broken my child's spirit.

 

I was not parented gently and remember crying myself to sleep, convinced that I was all alone in the world. I have desperately tried to spare my child this pain, and yet in spite of my best efforts she seems burdened with these thoughts at age 3!

 

One other piece that may be contributing is that she became a big sister 2 months ago. Perhaps she is reacting to the division of our attention? Although she has not ever shown any negative emotions toward her sister. From day one she has been hugging and kissing and talking sweetly to her sister. I have actually been amazed at how well she has transitioned. I have tried to counter any insecurity or sibling rivalry by assuring her of my love for both her and the baby. 

 

What do I do when my best isn't good enough? 

post #2 of 8

I don't think I have any answers.  Support def., I relate to the feelings she is presenting to you and the feelings you are presenting to us here. 

I wonder if she isn't a VERY sensitive girl?  I was/am and while I was always pretty confident and outspoken I still had a lot of anxiety/fear. 

My dd has started making a scared face when I am stern with her even though I try to use a calm serious voice at a normal decimal vs. a loud/angry voice but it doesn't seem to matter, it seems that just the act of being corrected makes her make this face and I admit it makes me feel a little bad for just correcting her even though kids need to be corrected from time to time and I know that.

 

I also wonder how much she understands as far as X face gets X response from mom?  I don't know but I wonder.

She also interupts me when I am correcting her to ask for hugs/kisses/cuddles or calls from time out for hugs which makes me feel pretty bad and like you said, that my best GD approaches aren't good enough to make her feel safe/loved.

post #3 of 8

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabird83 View Post

I have done my best to parent with Gentle Discipline, although like all of us some days are better than others. Lately my 3yo daughter has begun crying when she is upset and being disciplined, "nobody loves me", "nobody is here to take care of me", or "please be my friend". She says these things with tears flooding down her cheeks and an incredible amount of grief in her voice. When she is upset with us for telling her "no" she will say, "I want Papa/Mama. He/She loves me." 

 

As much as I use patience, calm words, reassurance of love, lengthy explanations while disciplining- how is it that she still doubts my love? It breaks my heart and I am worried that I have somehow broken my child's spirit.

 

I was not parented gently and remember crying myself to sleep, convinced that I was all alone in the world. I have desperately tried to spare my child this pain, and yet in spite of my best efforts she seems burdened with these thoughts at age 3!


And maybe this isn't at all about you, but about her and her developing conscience? You can't stop a child going through a developmental stage, no matter how hard you try. winky.gif  You do want her to develop a conscience, because without one, she'd be a sociopath. You can spare her some of the heartache of realizing that sometimes she does things wrong, but you cannot eliminate it. I'd argue that you don't want to eliminate it because she needs these experiences to learn.

 

The most helpful insight I had as a parent was when my children exit infancy, my job changes. During infancy, it is my job to make sure that they have every need met. It's my job to answer every cry and try to fix whatever is wrong, because that cry means that something is wrong. Crying is the only way they have of communicating. However, when a child reaches toddlerhood and beyond, my job changes. It changes because they have changed. Instead of preventing all crying, it's my job to help them learn to deal with frustrations, disappointments, anger, jealousy, guilt, rage, joy, excitement, anticipation, etc. I cannot fix things for them. I couldn't make my son's candy cane whole again, no matter how hard he cried. (I figured that superglue was probably toxic, and wouldn't work anyway. The mere fact that I even thought of superglue shows how much that we, as parents, really want to make the world whole and good for our children.)

 

I'd go further to argue that I shouldn't fix everything for them. They need to experience their emotions. They need to know that it's OK to have these emotions and then develop appropriate coping skills. It took my 7 year old a week to process the fact that someone else in her reading group got a bigger part in the play than she did (they were assigned by random draw). In this week, she experienced disappointment, jealousy, anger, frustration and probably a whole host of emotions that she couldn't name. I wasn't about to call up her reading teacher and say "really, my daughter should have gotten the biggest part because she is the best reader in the class." I couldn't fix it. I didn't want to fix it. So, I listened to dd. I helped her name her emotions. I gently reminded her that she was not the teacher and didn't get to make the rules for everyone. I comforted her. (And then I finally told her that she could rant about this for 5 more minutes and then I was done for the night.)

 

The other thing that I'd say is that 3 year olds in particular (and maybe all children) need a translator. When she says "nobody loves me" what she most likely means is "I don't feel very loved right now (because you're angry at me)." "I want Papa/Mama. S/he still loves me." = "I want to be with someone who isn't mad at me right now."
 

Between 3 and 4, children learn that there are consequences for their actions. They learn that their ideas don't always match their parents' ideas. They also have very short-term thinking. They're most likely not lying in bed sobbing because you told them at 11:30 am that they could not have a bowl of ice cream and chocolate chips for lunch.

 

Two book recommendations to end my novel:

How to Talk So Your Children Will Listen by Faber & Mazlish -- your daughter is at the perfect age for beginning to use some of these ideas of reflecting back her words, helping her to name her emotions, and keeping yourself from over-interpreting what she's saying. Note that it takes a fair amount of practice, and your daughter may not demonstrate what she's learning until she's much older. I've used this kind of language with dd from a very early age, and even at age 7, I get tears first, indignation second, and then a description of the 'real' reason.

 

The Emotional Life of the Toddler -- your dd is a bit older than a toddler, but I found this book really helpful in understanding young children's emotions.

 

If your daughter is very sensitive (or if you are), you might want to add: The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron.

 

But be gentle with yourself. You cannot prevent every heartache or bump along the road. All you can do is to be there to help her pick up the pieces again.

post #4 of 8

wow Lynne, that's the perfect summary of what my brain was imperfectly trying to say. thumb.gif

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabird83 View Post

I have done my best to parent with Gentle Discipline, although like all of us some days are better than others. Lately my 3yo daughter has begun crying when she is upset and being disciplined, "nobody loves me", "nobody is here to take care of me", or "please be my friend". She says these things with tears flooding down her cheeks and an incredible amount of grief in her voice. When she is upset with us for telling her "no" she will say, "I want Papa/Mama. He/She loves me." 

 

As much as I use patience, calm words, reassurance of love, lengthy explanations while disciplining- how is it that she still doubts my love? It breaks my heart and I am worried that I have somehow broken my child's spirit.

 

I was not parented gently and remember crying myself to sleep, convinced that I was all alone in the world. I have desperately tried to spare my child this pain, and yet in spite of my best efforts she seems burdened with these thoughts at age 3!

 

One other piece that may be contributing is that she became a big sister 2 months ago. Perhaps she is reacting to the division of our attention? Although she has not ever shown any negative emotions toward her sister. From day one she has been hugging and kissing and talking sweetly to her sister. I have actually been amazed at how well she has transitioned. I have tried to counter any insecurity or sibling rivalry by assuring her of my love for both her and the baby. 

 

What do I do when my best isn't good enough? 




You said while you are disciplining, but not what exactly you are doing. Are you "saying stop xyz it's dangerous" in a calm voice? Are you just telling her "you can have xyz some other time" calmly? Are you sending her to time out or to her room? It's really hard to give advice if we don't know what you are doing. I found saying no got a better reaction if i explained why or told DD what she could do instead. Also how are you helping her deal with all these intense emotions when this happens? Some kids go through periods of being emotionally fragile and need  quieter gentler correction during those phases.

post #6 of 8

Be gentle with yourself Mama.  Every mama goes through periods of doubt--but your best is good enough.  How do I know that? Because you wouldn't be posting here if you didn't want to improve things.

 

One response that I've found has helped with my kids... is that when they used to get mad it getting punished, they'd say, "I don't love you."  My response was always, "That's OK, I love you anyway."  It was that reassurance that no matter what they say/do, my love isn't going anywhere that seemed to really help.  Another response that worked well for whining was "I love you too much to argue." (Said over and over again.)  I calmly reassured them of my love, but held my ground regarding whatever.  It really seemed to help.   

post #7 of 8

The first thing that came to mind when reading your post was to post these articles:

Where's My Center

Who's in Control? The Unhappy Consequences of Being Child-Centered

 

When things get too hard for me, I know I need to change something. That doesn't mean that I need to be more strict. Just that something in the way that I relate to my kids needs to change. Maybe I need to be more firm. Maybe I need to spend more quality time with them. Maybe I need to say "no" less and "yes" more.

 

But then I read that you had a new baby 2 months ago, and it all seems perfectly normal. Not that you shouldn't make an effort to change things up. Just go with your gut there. Ds1 has had those types of feelings ever since ds2 was born (ds2 is almost 2yo now), and he's NEVER taken it out on ds2. He loves him, takes care of him, and plays with him.

post #8 of 8

Around 3, I think children become aware of the power of their words, the effect they can have on other people (especially Mama), and they are also more able to verbally express their emotions. I think the intro of the new baby, and all the stress that puts on you, may be making you extra worried about her emotions, and she's feeding off that.

 

Hang in there, Mama!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Gentle Discipline
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › Gentle Discipline › My best isn't good enough...