Mothering Forum banner
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this in, but here it is.

I was raised by my grandparents, and when I was growing up, my grandmother was a huge control freak. Everything was a power struggle, from chores to mealtimes to clothes - EVERYTHING. I struggled and rebelled against it from an early age, which only made things worse, until by the time I was 17 we couldn't even say a civil word to each other - it was terrible.

So now I am an adult with control issues of my own, I guess because I was made to feel so powerless as a child. I have worked hard to let them go, with mixed success. I am terrified of carrying this over to my relationship with Cole. I'm not sure how to put this into words. On one hand, I want to be in charge and consistent. On the other hand, I don't want him to feel like he is totally dominated by me. I didn't have a good role model for this growing up and now I am unsure how to achieve this balance. I feel like a certain amount of authority is good and will make Cole feel safe and secure, but too much and it's like he's living in a prison camp.

I am pressed for time here and I'm not sure I'm really getting to the heart of the matter. Sometimes I feel myself enforcing a decision on him just because I feel like I can't go back on it once it's made, KWIM? I don't feel this is healthy - I think that may be part of what motivated my g-mother to be so strict - either being afraid of admitting she's wrong, or not wanting to be inconsistent, or just plain old not wanting to lose face. I don't want to go down that path. But I also don't want to overcompensate and end up being too permissive. I want to establish a healthy pattern early on, and I'm not sure I'm doing it! I need guidance and I don't know where to find it. I read the Discipline Book by Sears and frankly it left me cold. (I am a little tired of reading about what a perfect mama Martha is!)

Anyway - any input would be appreciated - sorry if this came out a little garbled -
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,913 Posts
I also struggle with control-freakish tendancies, so I can comisserate. I think it's ok to say to your child "Mom made a mistake" or even "Mom changed her mind about that", but even more helpful to me is to stop and take a breathe before I lay that boundary in the first place. Before I answer- I ask myself "Why not?" If there's no good answer, then there's really no reason to say no.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I KWYM - I definitely *try* to do that. My problem is, for instance: Cole's shirt is dirty and I want to put a clean one on him. He screams when I start to take it off because he doesn't want his clothes changed. I don't want to send him the message that if he doesn't like what I'm doing he can just scream bloody murder and I'll stop doing it. But, is having him wear a clean shirt really worth the battle to get it on him? A related problem: we are outside playing and I decide it's time to go in. I open the door and say, "Come on Cole, let's go inside." He ignores me, of course - he's one. So I go over and pick him up to bring him inside and he freaks out. At this point I feel I am committed to my course of action so I bring him inside, kicking and screaming and try to redirect his attention to a toy or something indoors, which usually works but I am left wondering, "Would it really have been so bad to just put him back down and let him have a few more minutes in the dirt?" But like I said, I don't want to teach him that all he has to do to get his way is pitch a fit. I want to be consistent and I want him to know that when I say something is going to happen, it really will, and I mean what I say. I don't want him to think, "Oh, she says it's time to go in but I know it really isn't." But I don't want to be dogmatic about it, either. So I do try to pick my battles, but sometimes I wonder if it's OK to abandon a battle that has been picked or do I need to follow it through to the bitter end? KWIM?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,549 Posts
In the two examples you gave, one thing jumped out at me both times and I'm not sure it's accurate (because you may have omitted some information). But what I read is that when you decide it's time to do something, you expect Cole to comply at that moment instead of maybe giving him some time to prepare for the change and maybe decide for himself how to comply.

I have a child with profound transitioning difficulties and I had to snap myself out of the habit very quickly of just saying "let's go" and expecting her to comply.

When it's time to go inside, I would suggest giving him a time limit (five minutes, three minutes, one minute) and then asking him how he would like to go into the house (crawl like a bear, hop like a frog or run like a horse). That way, even though you have made the decision to go in, he feels empowered that he can decide how to go in.

With the shirt: I could never just approach my daughter and take her shirt off (she would have freaked!) so I would probably say to him, "mommy needs to change your shirt. Can you hold up your arms or do you want me to pull the sleeves off with your arms down?". Again, giving him the choice of how to comply, not whether to comply.

I really commend you for examining your own issues and trying so hard to make a better life for your son. It's so hard, isn't it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,086 Posts
Good for you! You're aware of your issue and that's more than half your battle!


Early on in disciplining DS, I got way caught up in this way of thinking. I can be a control freak myself (I have obsessive compulsive tendancies), but I knew in my gut that I wanted DS to be his own person, have his own ideas and be able to pave his own path for life. I felt I owe dhim that much for bringing him into this world. So I knew I needed to do some letting go. In fact, I'd saying parenting in general has been very much a letting go experience. And extremely liberating not only for my son, but for me as well. Children NEED control over their lives wherever you can give it (empower vs. overpower). For the sanity and well being of everyone, it's just plain necessary. I've learned that control is an illusion on many levels. You can try hard to control the world around you--things that happen, things that don't, family, friends--but in short, you cannot CONTROL these things, only your reactions to them. I try to keep that in mind and remind myself of it often when I feel like I'm slipping. So after such a thought process, this is where I ended on the discipline train:

Limits, yes! As few as possible, yes, yes!


One thing in the Sears Baby Book I found helpful were the terms "Biggies and Smallies." Carseat? Biggie and non-negotiable. Eating on the floor (which is relatively clean
) instead of the table? Smallie. One thing that's really helped me is to refrain from just blurting out a knee jerk "NO" before I have time to assess the situation. For instance, DS is bouncing on the couch. My first thought is, 'he can hurt himself or hurt the couch', BUT my second thought is, he's only 25 pounds, and if I lay some pillows at the foot, it's relatively safe under my supervision. Basically speaking, we tend to draw the line at safety whenever possible (no climbing on the kitchen table for instance, it's wobbly, just too dangerous), but always try to accomodate the behavior in some other way: "you are free to climb on the couch and chairs in the living room, or this step stool here." Whenever DS is doing something that brings a question to my mind, I try to ask myself, "is it really dangerous or damaging in some way, or is it just annoying. If it's just annoying, I tend to let it go."

Once you have drawn your mental line for what is acceptable and what is not, it's much easier to hold down the consistency. When DS is not happy that I've stopped him from doing something, I simply tell him, "Remember DS, we draw the line at safety. We want you to be safe." He usually accepts this because he knows we've got his back. He also knows that we don't stop him from doing things "just because." There are many upon many things he CAN do. Knowing he has this control over his world helps him to work with me when I need him to.

One more thing on consistency: Sears mentions (regarding the the biggie and smallie issue) to paraphrase: 'If you say no to something and then realize that maybe it's a smallie afterall, no worry in letting it go.' (I'd add here that it's a good idea however, to explain why you let it go though.) For instance: DS loves climbing DH's step ladder. When he first attempted at 20 or so months, my first instinct was to say (and I did), "No way kiddo! Too dangerous!" But as he continued to climb up, I noticed that he was able to be extremely steady and careful. With my supervision, there was really no reason to stop him so I said to him, "Wow, you can climb very slowly and steadily. As long as I'm here or Dad is here with you, you may climb the ladder."

I try not to concernt myself about being wrong. If I am, I admit it. Kids need to know that their are parents are human. It helps them to accept their own mistakes, learn from them and move on.

Sorry this turned in to such a novel. Control is an issue (sadly enough) that is near and dear to my heart, but you can overcome it... more easlily than you might think right now. I simply keep my DS in mind, his needs and my extreme NEED for him to be able to cope with life better than I have him. I said it once, I'll say it again: I owe him that much for bringing him into this world.

The best of luck to you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,086 Posts
I just wanted to add (after having read some posts and response) that ITA with Lovebeads. Transitions become a big matter at this age... I've learned that I can't expect DS to just follow along on my time schedule anymore. He is indeed his own guy. Warnings about how much longer and such have been great... I've also had to alter my own expectation as well here--I give him a few extra minutes whenever I can...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
380 Posts
I was going to post the same thing as LoveBead! Adding that the time thing like 5 minutes is a great way to introduce the concept of time to him. You can also do the "3 more slides" and it helps him learn to count. I dont think you are being inconsistant by not doing everything as you say, and admitting you changed your mind or made a mistake. If you know he will freak about his shirt, decide how important it really is and let him pick from a couple shirts you get out for him. Maybe keep the favorites for those tough times so he will want to wear it. Pick your battles has worked for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,671 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you everyone for your responses. I appreciate the input.

I should have mentioned when outlining a typical problem that I do try to give him warning whenever possible, such as "We're going inside in a few minutes to start dinner" or "Let's go change your shirt now". I would never just grab him and start undressing him - that to me seems very disrespectful, an obvious violation of his physical space, yk? I would hate it if someone did that to me. But even though I do this, I think he is still really too young for my warnings to have a lot of meaning for him. He is almost one. Maybe I am underestimating him - he probably does understand more than I think he does.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
I don't use the 5, 3, and 1 minute warnings for my 1 and 3yos, especially for something like going inside, because it seems like an invitation to prepare to spar. It is never time to stop playing outside. Instead, I redirect with by mentioning something special inside like a bath, a special toy, a visitor, or a treat. It works the overwhelming majority of the time, especially if I have appreciated my ds & dd's need to play outside. With regard to a "smallie" like dirty clothes, I would mention that we would change the shirt and if that was rejected, I would leave it alone until it mattered and would take it off later in a nonadversarial manner. My dh maintains a very clean house but a dirty shirt would only matter if it had large clumps of something on it like catsup or jelly or mashed potatoes or yogurt that might get smeared around the house. In that case, the shirt could still stay on if it was an issue for the child, but the clumps would have to be wiped off because family members should not have to endure a catsup stained and sticky house. You might borrow a copy of the Sears book The Successful Child which addresses how to parent in a manner that encourage the respect of self and others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
838 Posts
others have posted good stuff, one thing i havent heard addresssed is your fear that if you stop doing something he doesnt like when he screams, that this will reinforce the screaming. i think it is a common fear based on a punishment/reward model- but people are more complex than that. i actually think it is ok to respond to his screams- having his needs heard and met is actually more likely to result in a child who will eventually scream less- because his needs are met. ignoring protests i think will cause a child who feels that he needs to scream, louder and louder and louder.
i would certainly let him know that you prefer if he uses more pleasant voice. hes only one right? still very young, as he gets older i would be stricter about the screaming, letting him know that i will only do xyz if he speaks respectfully- but at one, i think calmly verbalizing emotions is a rarity. maybe start now modeling what you would like to hear, when he screams calmly respond, oh, yes, i can hear you telling me that you do not want to change your shirt right now- that lets him know you are listening (even if you still decide to take the shirt off) and also helps him develop language he will eventually be able to use for himself.

and for the examples you gave- i will tell you what worked with my dd, and maybe they will work for you. re/ the shirt. i would say in my cheeriest, sing-song voice 'we are taking your shirt off', and then i would try, and if she screamed i would stop and walk away like i dont care, then try again shortly, while she is occupied, and try not to interrupt what she is doing too much, becuase that is what bugged her, the interruption. after a few tries she would always let me take the shirt off. (sorry these are only solutions for when time is not too big an issue)
re/ coming inside, i would tell her 'we are going inside now', as if it just the cheeriest fairy land in there. and then i would hold my hand to my ear and say-i hear the kitty calling you! i hear your train calling you! on and on, whatever i can think of that she really likes- and i say, 'i hear them calling haaaalei. halei come play with us.' all the while leading her towards the door. or any other game you can think of.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,888 Posts
Do you explain things? He probably doesn't really understand, but there is something in the tone of your voice even at that age that kind of seems to tell them you're making an effort. For instance - "Baby, your shirt is dirty, see? (point out the food/dirt on the front) We need to take it off, ok?" It may or may not really help you now, but it is a good habit to be in for later.

Wherever possible I ask my kids before I do something. For instance, if the shirt was only a little dirty, I'd ask him if he wanted to change it. Of course, whenever you ask a question you must be prepared to deal with getting an answer you don't want (ie if he says no, you don't change the shirt). We do this about coming inside a lot: "are you ready to come in now? Do you need a few more minutes?"

But we are pretty stubborn about consistency. We very, very rarely change our minds about something. But the kids know we have separate ways of talking when something is negitiable and when something is not. This is something that your son may or may not understand now, but is still a helpful habit - decide on a specific type of wording to use when things are absolutely non-negotiable. For us, this is a raw statement "Becca, come inside NOW" (said very level, without yelling), vs. "Becca, would you come in now?" (which sounds like a 'polite' way of demanding, but we'll accept it if she says "I want to play with my chalk a little more"). I tend to agree that I don't want my kids to think that screaming is a nice easy way to get mommy to give them what they were after if she has said no, but I also don't want to be in the position where I am constantly trying to "reinforce" this concept (constantly heading off tantrums), KWIM?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
389 Posts
I think this was pretty much said, but I didn't read all the posts, so I'm not sure! Anyway, I think it is very wise to choose your battles. Try to take a moment to decide if it's worth the battle. If you decide it is, then go thru with it, screaming or not. That is my opinion based on my own experience with dd. When she was 1 I would often start something (like with your example, taking her shirt off), and she would throw a fit so I would give up and try again later. I will say that after a few months she became increasingly annoying to be around- there were other things too, like she would constantly whine for things she saw on the counter, so I would hand them to her, and this would go on and on and on everytime I picked her up. Anyway, before I start rambling, my point is, I would give in when she made a big stink about things about 50% of the time (the other 50% was usually something that just had to be done).
The two things I did to make things better-for both of us, not just me- were to try hard to pick my battles- as in not to bother saying "please don't jump on the bed", if I was not ready to deal with having to deal with an unhappy toddler. And, the other thing I did was to follow thru once I said something. There were, and still are, occasions where this "rule" can be broken- but not based just on the unhappiness of my little munchkin.
I still slip- consistency is so hard!!! But even now (dd just turned 3), I can tell when I've been not doing a good job of following through- she gets whinier, more tantrum-proned, doesn't listen as well, and I get more stressed- we are both less happy.
You will learn as you go. Children are resilient and you will find what works for you and your little one.
As far as worrying about getting too controlling- you seem like you are on the right path to stopping that cycle already- you seem to have a really great sense of balance already! If you find yourself trying to enforce "smallies" a lot, and getting annoyed over them frequently, then that is when you want to back up and see if your Grandmother's style is creeping in. I think you are doing great so far!
Good luck! Toddlers are so much fun- exhausting, but fun!
Sara
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,288 Posts
You have gotten so many great respsonses, that I am not going to repeat it all. Pick your battles, let him make as many choices as possible, give him good transition time, think before you react to something, etc.

I wanted to say that I also struggle with the situation where the child is screaming, and I do not want to "give in" as I am afraid it will reinforce the "scream to get what you want". So, I have chosen a compromise on that. I will "give in" if they ask in a respectful tone
If they are screaming, I say, "can you please tell me with words and more quietly how you feel about this, b/c I don't know how you feel when all you do is scream. They will quickly say it in a softer tone (what they are feeling), then I say, "Oh, I am sorry, I did not know how you felt about that when you were screaming, but now I understand". Of course, the child has to be at an age and developmental level where they have the words to express themselves, and until then, screams are acceptable ways to communicate with me.

It is so great that you are recognizing where the problem is and finding a way to solve it, I often can't see my own mistakes, only dh's:LOL , luckily he sees mine too
and we remind each other to look for other ways to do things.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top