So, being the crazy, new-wave, crunchy person that I am, we try to practice peaceful parenting. TRY being the operative word. I really want my child to be able to come to me with her feelings, learn how to deal with them, and learn the tools to make good choices. So we don’t spank, we don’t shame, all that cheesy, corny crap.
It’s not working.
I adore my three year old. But to be completely honest, I’ve been literally counting down the minutes until she turns four. (For some reason I have this idea in my head that she’s going to have a magical transformation overnight on October 14th and wake up a reasoned, well intentioned small child).
Susan is a dear, dear heart. She is incredibly smart, motivated, independent, funny, and strong willed. You know, all those things your want your child to be. When they are thirty. When they are three we have days where these smart becomes smart-assed, motivated becomes defiant, independent becomes stubborn, funny turns them into a prankster (and not the good kind!) and strong willed is potential borderline personality disorder.
Take this morning. Susan was melting over ever minor scuffle. (I kid you not, I heard “She’s looking at me!” fourteen times before 9am). She was mad because the little girl that I nanny for was chewing with her mouth open. (The aforementioned child is two.). Susan is screaming at her to chew with her mouth closed. With a mouthful of food. Of course.
So, I try to take the peaceful parenting route:
Me: Honey, I see that you are very upset. Do you want to talk about it?
Susan: wails with food falling out of her face
Me: Something is making you sad. It’s okay to be sad.
Susan: crying reaches a new octave
Me: I am sorry that you are feeling this way. Yelling at your friends isn’t really a good choice. Why don’t you take a deep breath and think about what would be some better choices?
Susan: still wailing, now big, fat toddler tears are running down her face
Me: Okay, it seems like you are too upset to talk about this right now. That’s okay. Would you like a hug so we can work through this together?
Susan: now shrieking, violently shakes her head back and forth
Me: (at this point it’s taking everything in me to not sigh and roll my eyes. You know, nonverbal cues and all that) Alright, well, you let me know when you are ready to talk about this and try something else. In the meantime, please don’t scream at your friends.
Susan: But she’s chewing with her mouth open! That’s against the rules!
Me: Well, what do you want to do about it?
Susan: Yell at her.
*sigh* Well, at least she’s speaking to me at the moment. Maybe I’ve finally worked my way in!
Me: That’s not an option honey. It’s okay to feel frustrated when friends do things differently than us. What are some other ways that we could communicate that to our friends?
Susan: She just needs to stop. But I guess I could ask her nicely to stop or ask you to help.
Me: Excellent! Those are two awesome choices! I knew you could come up with some good ideas all by yourself. I’m proud of you. hugs daughter Maybe next time she is chewing with her mouth open you should try one of those and see what happens instead.
Susan: Okay. Sorry for yelling.
Unsolicited apology! Even better! This stuff does work!
Having dealt with one crisis after another for three consecutive hours, I need to go to the bathroom. I remind Susan to not scream at her friend while I pee for 38 seconds.
My butt literally touches the seat and I hear howling as though someone is dying. Of course, I stop mid stream (and probably get some pee in my underwear, who knows? I have had two babies, nothing works down there anymore) and fly back into the kitchen. Susan is crying the hurt cry but I see no bleeding or bones poking through skin. In fact, she’s sitting in the exact same location. I ask her what’s wrong and try to decode the language I describe as Tantrum.
Me: Honey, honey, it’s hard for me to understand you. Take a deep breath and tell me what’s wrong.
The little girl I nanny for speaks up and says: “She asked me to stop chewing with my mouth open and I said no. Then she threw her watermelon over here. It’s okay. She missed me.”
When all else fails we resort to throwing food, apparently.
So, really, we can’t just beat them?