I had a lot to share.
Bach Flower Remedies: Rescue Remedy for upsets; Cherry Plum for aggression out of control (either of you); and/or Elm for feeling temporarily overwhelmed with responsibilities. I too have physical boundary issues derived from childhood; and have been quite reactive to having my body space violated by being randomly struck when our son has been upset when overly tired or hungry. The Bach flower remedies have helped us to regain most of our rational self-control.
I do want to mention that *my* reaction to our son's biting/grabbing/hitting was defensive too. I felt violated. I learned (through counseling) that much of my reaction to our child's physical behaviors was due to my childhood. Having been hit as a child and disregarded, it was very hard when I was doing "everything right", and being gentle and respectful, that I would be hurt by our son's (natural) explorations at different stages. At 9 months, it was hair pulling and pinching. At 15 months it was moving his arms and fists in a "hitting" exploration (It HURT!). At 24 months, he grabbed my legs for hugs but I felt trapped. At 3 years, it was kicking.
My intense, visceral, negative emotional reactions were due to having had hair pulled, pinched, hit, grabbed, etc. as a child. So, if you are unable to find a calm and cognitive perspective from which to react to your child's normal developmental behaviors, consider from where your reactions are originating. Mine were deeply emotional reactions to feeling violated against my will. And especially, my experience seemed "unjustified", since I was treating him with love, respect and gentleness.
I realized *I* could choose my reaction by understanding that my *initial* reaction was due to my past experiences, rather than the present situation. Then, I was more able to breathe through my anger at being pinched, hit or whatever. And I was able to calmly give information and redirect our son to meet his need to use his developing pincher grasp without hurting (like soft squeezable toys), and provide constructive things for his hitting (like hammering toys), and for grabbing (like offering and asking for hugs). His need to act on these developmental impulses did not change
, but I created mutually agreeable ways to meet his underlying needs and mine.
This was a huge issue for me to cognitively come to terms with. What possible explanation was there for my wanting to *throw* my son off of me with an intensity of feeling violated, assaulted and trapped when at 18 months old he merely grabbed my legs with his little arms while I was standing at the sink, and my hands were busy cutting up chicken and I couldn't find the rational mind to gently respond?!?! The viceral reaction I experience inside of me was overwhelming and out of proportion to the "threat" of a toddler grabbing his mama. I yelled at him "GET OFF OF ME!!". Fortunately, I didn't act on my desire to toss him off of my leg. But the vehemence of my explosive reaction shocked me. Fortunately, my husband observed my angry outburst and insisted that I needed to "talk to someone". He hypothesized that I was reacting to my childhood. Humph. I thought.
Well, the more I thought about it, the clearer it seemed. I recall feeling helpless, trapped, immobilized, unable to escape from many "discipline" moments in childhood. Many of which were very physical and painful. As a result, I believe the physicality cued those emotions to replay and BOY! did they explode through my body with intensity. In reflection, I can't think of any other experience in my adulthood that has had any physicality associated with it. No physical threats to resurface these buried emotions. But, children are physical beings and the idea that my son was being physical against my wishes, also revived the philosophical dissidence that I experienced at being told 'this is for your own good', 'you know better', 'this will teach you', yada, yada when being punished as a child. But, the emotional overload of imposed physicality and pain in my childhood triggers huge emotions for me to learn self-awareness and self-control as a parent.
I have found that *my* reactions, when he is physical, feed our son's exploration AND emotional lability. We become an escalating cycle of gasoline on fire. Fortunately, I have learned some mediative tools of being in the present moment, which I practice in all areas of my life. Mostly by avoiding schedule pressures which cause me to be RUSHING toward the future. And learning to eliminate negative self-talk (self-blame) which takes me out of the present moment into ruminating regret about this or that "should have been better". I have honestly been able to break many of these patterns so that in the heat of the moment, my emotional reaction is in line with my *present* REAL experience of mothering a child who has *needs*, rather than reacting to the impact and imposed physicality. I have been able to learn to look at ds's physicality as a means of him meeting an underlying need. I also am aware that his attachment need is for connectivity with me and when I withdraw emotionally due to his physicality he becomes a flailing "boat without an anchor".
So, I have worked to control what I can control: how I view and react to his actions. Instead of trying to control his actions. This change in focus breaks the escalation from brewing, smoldering and bursting forth. It takes A LOT of constant awareness and connectivity with our son because he is a VERY physical being, and sensory seeking at that. When food issues, unwelcome transitions, too much auditory stimuli, or emotional distress (mine or his) is added to the mix we start amping up. *I* am the only one who can break the cycle. Actually, he has started to say 'Mama, calm down', if he hears me discussing something in a passionate manner.
As they say 'children teach us what we most need to learn'.
Yes, I'll sip and use the Bach Flower remedies liberally at times. And other times we don't use them for weeks. I have no concern about using them. I know I have baggage, hot buttons and triggers regarding imposed physicality. Ds is learning impulse control; and together we explore methods of constructive self-soothing of his sensory seeking needs. (bouncing on the mattress, couch, running, swinging, trampoline, "burrito wraps", "pillow mash", jumping in place, pushing against my hands, pulling heavy objects, etc.) But, we are a work in progress. The key for us is to *not* judge his actions through a filter of "intentional" or "mean". I believe these impair my ability to see his actions as messages of *his* underlying needs. They are very myopic views of his actions from the eye of the beholder, not the needs
of my child. Learning to see actions from a perspective other than the one I am experiencing has been challenging, to say the least. Obviously, it wasn't modeled for me in childhood. Oh, and personal counseling helped me to expunge some of my negative self-talk by reflecting on my childhood experiences with an adult perspective. The supportive, empathetic and validating resource of an advocate was missing in my childhood. It is amazing how healing it is to have the pain that was denied, honored and recognized instead. Finally.
Could you consider releasing or delaying the need to communicate "I will not stand here and allow myself to be hit"? The dynamic of being *in the experience* of perceiving being attacked, violated and pummeled is not going to help her move through her emotions when she's in that place of so much turmoil.
I am not suggesting being a whipping boy. I am adamantly not a believer in being a martyr. I believe that the long term goal is for dd to understand that she has a choice of how she reacts to experiences which she perceives as "unacceptable", "futile" and "frustrating". Could you move out of the "unacceptable for her to hit me" process and into Helpmate to move through the Storm, AND THEN address your underlying needs to communicate your feelings? Perhaps, she could then not experience you as *opposing* her emotional expression. Of course, I do not *know* that she is experiencing you as *opposing* her emotional expression; but the emotional angst that you have shared regarding being *hugged* feels violated in my interpretation. Children are such barometers of our energy. It must be very scary for her to feel distanced and at odds with you. That probably doesn't help her to wind down. (I am just guessing here, you know. I just find that when dh, or ds is pushing back-figuratively, it is harder to feel like we are partnering to solve the issue, whatever the "issue" is.)
I am not dismissing how violating it feels to be hit or kicked! Believe Me!! Physical violation is my Hot Button, as I said. I have a childhood history of being physically violated. So, it is not easy for me to suggest a different mind-set. If you can move to a place of Trust, Trust that she is NOT wanting to hurt you, and be with her pain
, I hope that she can feel less adversarial, less alone and flailing, and less hysterical and violent. I hope that I am expressing this with empathy for your experience. And the difficulty to have that level of 'Observer of My Emotions' that I strive to utilize with our son when he is in the throws of a meltdown is an Olympic Event of Will on my part. I am not suggesting repressing or suppressing your emotions, I don't believe. I feel more empowered than that represents. It is a Choice how we *express* our emotions. That is what I want to model for our son.
I found a lot of my reactions are related to hot triggers from my own childhood. Things like "talking back", "ignoring what I said", "refusing to obey" were things I heard so much in childhood that they have the effect of triggering some expectations of compliance in my mind, that can lead to rage when I am not feeling like my own self-care needs are important. Recognizing my triggers, and learning how to provide for my own self-care and self-acceptance, has been huge at altering my perception of ds 'having a different opinion', 'preoccupied with something else' and 'not wanting to do xyz', instead of perceiving him as "defying" me. My perception is/was tainted by my similar experiences as a child. Also, physicality is such a huge issue that creates a visceral reaction in me.
I was able to control my reaction, but the intensity of my feelings scared me. Fortunately, with personal counseling and a lot of reading and introspection, I recognized those feelings being habituated from physical punishment as a child. You might find the thread "Parenting and Rage" to be helpful. http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=394579
It is a journey to learn self-awareness and self-control as an adult. It is hard to learn if you didn't have effective and calm models in childhood yourself, at least it has been for me.
The Buddhist monk's Thich Nhat Hanh's book "Peace is Every Step
" also helped me to learn to PAUSE....BREATHE...BREATHE....before choosing my reaction. I highly recommend it.
Also, our son has aggressive behaviors about one hour after consuming dairy in any form, or artificial colors: red and yellow. The aggression lasts for 1-6 hours, depending upon quantity of consumption. You might observe for this type of pattern. We avoid these. I have a ton more info about food and behavior if you are interested. Our son is sensory seeking and I am sensory aversive. We have found a lot of tools to proactively help him to meet his sensory needs without impacting me and others!