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#1 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 1 year this friday.  He already has behavior that pushes my buttons.  It's not that his behavior is bad, it's that apparently it's easy for him to push my buttons.  This comes as a bit of a surprise as I have a lot more patience for DSD who is nearly 13!  I'm apalled to find that my first reactions are not gentle.  I know this is because of how I was brought up, but it's humbling to find out I can't just do as I know, rather than reacting :(  For example, when he's touching something he's not supposed to for the billionth time after being redirected, my impulse is to slap his hands. I've managed to stop myself and keep it to tapping his hands, but I wish that impulse was gone!  I know it's better to remove the temptations but it's not possible for everything.  I'm afraid I'm going to hit or spank him :(  I know I raise my voice (not actually yelling.  yet.) too often.

 

So, my question is, where do I start to help me unlearn what I've apparently internalized and relearn gentle discipline?  The first step I can think of is to read some threads here daily to keep me focused on the knowledge that he's not doing things on purpose to antagonize me, and gather coping strategies from them.


Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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#2 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 04:17 PM
 
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Hi Neonalee!  I can't say that I have any suggestions at this point.  My DD is just a few months older and is pushing my buttons, too.  I hate that I'm not as patient and loving as I want to be.  Isn't it kind of scary how we internalize the parenting styles those who cared for us used?  This scares me to tears, sometimes.  I am afraid of repeating the cycle.  If I find anything that helps, I'll pass it along.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 04:33 PM
 
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There is a book you might want to check out called Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel that addresses "un-learning" the impulse to parent how you were parented.  I'd write more but I'm in a hurry.  good luck!

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#4 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 07:07 PM
 
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I have had the same sort of experience, noting a very strong internal reaction (not really related to the present moment, in terms of not REALLY related to the actual stimulus, though of course triggered by the present moment) and a clear impulse to control, when my daughter (my first child) was very young.  Extrapolating mentally, I could tell that it could escalate tremendously and that if it did, if she didn't give in or give up, I would be really stuck (if I followed that path.)  It was very strange but I recognized it as what I absorbed from my father.  (I don't know his experience specifically, but that was the message I internalized:  the importance of winning, of maintaining control when "challenged," at any cost.)  It was bizarre to feel that, and to see it critically, but still feel it.

 

I agree that "Parenting From the Inside Out" is a good resource.  Much info from Daniel Siegel is similarly valuable.  A practice of mindful presence is probably the best discipline for developing a compassionate, non-judgmental Observing presence that will help you observe your reactivity to the point that you can see it instead of being it.  Connecting to your own validity, even when your behavior or impulses are not in line with your values & ideals, seems to go further toward being able to respond compassionately to a child & connect consistently to his validity in the moment (despite the behavior) than any attempt to do so "on principle."  (For me, "connecting to the child's validity" is just a way of expressing an ability to see behaviors in terms of the underlying needs they express or suggest, to see behaviors as strategies to get needs met or as expressions of good things.)  This is harder when a behavior is triggering, for whatever reason.

 

In my experience, connecting this way comes more naturally when it is an outgrowth of how I see and treat myself, rather when it's just something I try to give my child because I believe in it.  I think that's because doing right "on principle" breaks down at some point if you are stuffing your own feelings & reactions in order to pull it off.  But if you are giving yourself and your reactions compassionate presence and acknowledgment, then you are validating yourself and less likely to reach the breaking point and "snap," and less likely to struggle to parent by your ideals (it will come more naturally, if you are parenting yourself the same way rather than judging yourself harshly.)

 

There are lots of avenues for cultivating this...."mindfulness" or mindful presence, Vipassana meditation, Focusing, the non-judgmental Observer of Non-Violent Communication, Hakomi therapy, and other mindfulness centered therapies.

 

Staying present in the moment, focused on acceptance (rather than judgment and resulting resistance), is a useful practice.

 

Recognizing that any other-focused or outward-directed emotion or reaction indicates the same sort of feeling directed at yourself also is helpful.  I don't always find this is enough for me in the moment (sometimes it is), but even if only my awareness is engaged (but isn't enough to stop my reactivity), it makes reconnection & self-knowledge/realization that much quicker, and it makes me MUCH more likely to be able to take responsibility for myself and my reactions out of really being connected to that responsibility.

 

But even when your annoyance or upset is not enough to generate actions, just recognizing other-focused feelings such as irritation, blame, criticism, anger as they arise in yourself is useful as a reminder to notice there is something going on, something painful & threatening that you are escaping by turning those feelings outward.  Then it's a matter of looking within for the unconscious or unquestioned thoughts & beliefs ("a good mother would know how to fix....", etc.) that trigger intolerable feelings in us when we encounter self-doubt, etc.  Locating blame with someone else is a way of escaping something painful or intolerable within, so if we can observe our anger & annoyance as a signal of something unconscious within, we can begin a process of "deactivating our buttons."  I also notice, in myself (and in my kids), that the impulse to control/overpower/intimidate/threaten is related to fearfulness & powerlessness, a victim position, a feeling of "if I don't take this into my own hands/force this outcome, I won't/can't have what I need."  Sometimes just noticing the impulse itself can help tune me in to (or help me to know there's something to tune into!) the fear that I have, or the assumption I'm accepting (that X is necessary for things to be okay.)  This can extend to soooo many things where young toddlers are concerned, and connecting to it in yourself can help with attuning to your child, rather than reacting because of these fears and feelings.

 

But overall (and I think this is what Siegel's book is advocating), when we can observe whatever arises in us with compassion, understanding & non-judgmental acceptance, then we are "re-parenting" ourselves in a way that heals old wounds.  (This happens via literal re-wiring of our brains, making better more optimal neural connections.)  We are providing for ourselves unconditional positive regard (rather than the conditional positive regard the majority of us received when parents and others used approval to influence & control our behavior, usually starting in toddlerhood.)  And this makes it increasingly possible for us to reliably provide unconditional positive regard to our children (not just because we want to or are trying to, but as an extension or outgrowth of an inner shift that makes it more & more natural to connect to the validity of another, even in conflict, because we're connected to our own validity.)

 

I think the crux of it is that the more compassionately you can see yourself, the less personally you tend to take things (or the less triggered you are), because you're not as needy or as threatened (not as defended.)  So you can more easily see things as they are.

 

I haven't exactly tried to express these things before, so I'm sorry it's pretty cumbersome.

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#5 of 9 Old 08-03-2011, 08:11 PM
 
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You are on the right track, your head is in the right place, just keep trying. Whenever you notice your bad behavior make amends, learn from it and move on to the next challenge (there will always be one waiting). Discipline yourself and your child will follow your lead. Try your damnedest every single day. It's hard work but it pays off.

 

Break the cycle!


Nik! Mama to Evelynn Rose 08/19/08 and Autumn Lily 11/02/10
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#6 of 9 Old 08-04-2011, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't have time to read right at this moment, but thanks for the responses mamas!  I will come back and read as soon as I can.


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#7 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post

There is a book you might want to check out called Parenting From the Inside Out by Daniel Siegel that addresses "un-learning" the impulse to parent how you were parented.  I'd write more but I'm in a hurry.  good luck!


Thanks, I've added it to my list!


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#8 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emmagee View Post

Hi Neonalee!  I can't say that I have any suggestions at this point.  My DD is just a few months older and is pushing my buttons, too.  I hate that I'm not as patient and loving as I want to be.  Isn't it kind of scary how we internalize the parenting styles those who cared for us used?  This scares me to tears, sometimes.  I am afraid of repeating the cycle.  If I find anything that helps, I'll pass it along.



Hi emmagee!  My best coping mechanism so far has been "why".  I try to always remember to ask myself, why is DS doing this?  That gets me closer to the parent I want to be, at least.  Yeah, I find it pretty scary as well!


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#9 of 9 Old 08-05-2011, 09:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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AmyC, thanks for taking the time to post that.  I read (and saved) other posts of yours as well.  I like that you use the word 'control'.  This is a big part of it for me.  I have this internal desire for control.  Which is crazy because intellectually I know I want an independent and strong-willing child.  What you say about validating and connecting really makes sense to me.  I just really wish he could talk.  I know so many parents wish their kids would just be quiet for a bit, and I'm sure I'll hit that mark too, but the inability to communicate is a big problem for me.  We are working on signing.  I've also noticed that when I can take a step back and acknowledge that I'm getting irritated and why (I need to get dishes washed and he's into everything for example) I can often be more gentle.  Sometimes if I can stop what I need to be doing for a few minutes and play with him, he'll then continue to play for long enough for me to finish those dishes.  I just need to practice taking that step back.  This is probably what you call mindfullness?  Anyway, I have to prepare for a meeting now, but I'm going to come back and reread again later.  Sigh, always pressed for time.

 

Holothuroidea - thanks so much for the encouragement. Maybe I should post a paper somewhere I'll see it often that says something like "Every day is a new day - try again".


Loving mama to Aden (8/5/2010) and DSD (15).
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