Things have been a bit, well, tense around our house lately. Seemingly out of the blue my daughter’s behavior has been explosive – unpredictable and unprompted. She’ll lash out verbally and physically, launching us into a power struggle of me trying to put an end to the behavior while she does her best to show me she doesn’t intend to be stopped.
I was feeling a bit lost about it all until I realized: I’ve seen this behavior before. Just about one year ago, in fact, Nora had been acting the same way. How had I not seen this sooner? We’ve slogged through this once before, when she started preschool for the first time. Though part time, the schedule was much busier for her and she went through a period of adjustment with behavior similar to what we’re experiencing now. The school part may not be new, but I had been intentionally packing her days with activity, with the intent of getting her used to a full day with all-day kindergarten next year. Just like last year, the girl simply needs time to adjust.
Phew, okay; so knowing where her behavior is coming from will certainly help me respond better to her outbursts, but that’s the problem: I dont like the way I’ve been responding so far.
I try my best to use the positive parenting approach with my daughter, and the way I had been responding to her most recent behavior wasn’t jiving with that technique. It wasn’t feeling right, yet in my frustration and, yes, anger, it was the harsh and angry words that were at the tip of my tongue, and my patience was shot.
We’ve talked about having mommy mantras around here before, but until now I’d been thinking about them as a way to summarize my parenting generally. I’m realizing now that I need a mantra to repeat to myself when I find myself in these power struggle situations with my daughter, the ones that push my buttons the most.
I read once that you should write your mantra down somewhere as a reminder to yourself, so I’ll share it here as a very public documentation of it:
I can respond with love.
I’m the adult in these situations; I have the power to respond maturely to my daughter’s outbursts. I am capable of controlling my reaction in a situation that feels out of control. My daughter learns how to respond to tense situations by watching me, and I can show her that connection is more powerful than confrontation. I can choose love over anger.
I can respond with love. Hopefully it sees us through this phase in a way that feels right for us all.