DD and I had a terrible day yesterday. She was constantly testing limits, not listening and being outright defiant, which is not typical for her. I was touchy, upset about my own personal stuff and very rigid, also not typical. We spent the majority of the day in conflict--her acting out, me taking her out of public places, me asking her to do something, her ignoring, and me escalating to my "firm voice" and threatening consequences. It was awful. We had periodic times where we could reconnect for a bit, talk and apologize, but then 20 minutes later, it'd start all over again. At the end of the day, we acknowledged that it was a difficult day and we'd try better tomorrow. This morning was fine and she's in a morning camp until noon, which gives us both some space (which we really need, having been home together a couple of weeks since preschool ended). I'm still really struggling with some of my own personal stuff and I worry about how the afternoon, and rest of the week, is going to go. I know we can work this out eventually, so I guess I'm just looking for support for feeling low about myself as a parent after yesterday (which I know is compounded by my difficulties at work and with DH). It hurts to know that I wasn't being the parent I want to be, or that she deserves. Anyone else starting over today after a rough spell?
We have all had those days mama. "Starting over" was a great title because that's just what you need to do. Remember...gentle discipline isn't about being a perfect parent...it's about trying your best to parent with empathy...which you are doing. It doesn't help that our culture wants kids to be like mini adults and are often smacked and humilliated for acting like the children they are.
We've had a whole week kind of like that - her being overly defiant, me being distractedly rigid. We spent whole days in conflict with each other. I hate it when things are like that. My daughter's the type that needs constant interaction with me all day and night. Sometimes I just need time to be internal, and the few hours here or there that I get aren't enough. I withdraw from my daughter, and she feels me pulling away and clings harder. It's one of my most unexpected parenting struggles, and one of the most difficult - when do you figure yourself out? When is there time to assimilate feelings and process new emotions? Sometimes I internally feel like...I just brought home the groceries and plopped them all over the kitchen and am trying to cook without putting them away. Not really answering your question...but your post really rang home for me after the week we had.
I always try to put myself in DDs shoes. It's easy a lot of the time. Just getting down and looking her in the eyes and validating her feelings works wonders.
But what do you do when there is kicking and screaming? I walk away and express how she is/will hurt me or is hurting my feelings. And if that doesn't work? It's a constant evolution parenting a toddler, right? Sometimes I wonder if this'll be the same when DD is 14. She sure acts like a teenager sometimes!
You are a good mom/person and just the fact that you wrote this post says that. Give yourself some grace and yeah, start over. I like how you both mutually agreed that it was a bad day. That's great communication. I'd like to share a link you might find valuable...
Mama + Daddy +DD (12/20/09) =
Expecting #2 in September!