When I set out to read some self help stuff on how to tackle my aggression in reaction to tantrums thrown in by my 2 and a half year old Nick, I found very less material on the world wide net. What I found instead were numerous articles and write-ups elaborating on how to manage aggressive toddler behavior.
I sighed at the futility of trying to manage his rash behavior when I cannot check my own knee-jerk reactions to his one naughty act here or a tantrum there.
One primary reason for my impatience while dealing with my son is that being a working mother, I always have a long To Do list which impacts my willingness to be a little more patient. And over the years, I have got into a mold where even when I don’t have anything urgent to do, my mind is always on the run and thus resulting in knee-jerk reactions to Nicks naughtiness.
With this internalization, I continued my quest to look for material to help me towards a non-aggressive being. Well, I did come across some meaningful stuff.
Having read a lot of it, I did some introspection myself and the first step was to figure out when is it that Nick ticks me off? The little list went as follows –
– When he throws a tantrum. Eg. He wants to wear his party clothes instead of his night wear.
– He refuses to understand adult logic. Eg. He shall insist on having water directly from the tap. The concept of only filtered water for drinking does not
go down well with him .
– He involves himself in behavior which I feel are ethically and socially unacceptable. Eg. hitting someone, or, peeing in his pants.
– He refuses to calm down and sleep even after I have had a long day and am
desperate to retire for a comfortable nights sleep.
In hindsight, all of the above are a violation from my list of should’s and should not’s. And what I forgot to remember while reacting is that he still doesn’t understand the meaning of “should and should not”. He is only exploring his capacity to “Can’s” and “Cannot’s”. My aggressive behaviour is leading him to observe a repetitive behavior pattern and making him register the same in his mind as a “Can do” behavior.
So, what do I do about it? And How?
Taking cue from articles mentioned in clicks above, I decided to follow a couple of things –
Do Not Shout
I think the entire instance of shouting and reacting to what Nick has done, makes me feel worse once the moment has passed, because I am immediately repenting my shouting on the little monster. So the rule is, “Do Not Shout”. Instead go about doing whatever needs to be done with my mouth shut.
Take A Time-Out
I shall just move away from my child so that I will not be able to reach him and get back to him in a violent way. I can do this conviniently, coz there is my mother-in-law to look over Nick in the meanwhile. I know she too might react to his mischief, but will never get aggressive enough to casue any harm.
Well, my Mother-in-laws reactions to Nick’s behavior, especially on those which get me mad set me thinking some more. “How can you not be mad for such an act?”, is what I asked her yesterday. Her answer was, “I am equally upset about his behavior. But lashing back at him isn’t a solution. He doesn’t even realise what he has done. He just acted on his toddler impulse. But if we react to him aggressively, he will co-relate in his mind that because mom or grand-mom behaved in a particular manner, its ok if I too do so. So in the next opportunity when he can be angry or aggressive, he will emulate us.” I thought over it, and I think I agree.
She later told me, “Listen! what is it that upsets you? That he isn’t peeing in the loo yet? Every child on this earth eventually realizes that the bathroom is the place for pee and potty. Another 2 years or so and this problem will not exist.So why create a negative impact by reacting to something that’s not even a permanent problem. Rather being patient and taking it in your stride is a much better way to deal with it.”
Ummm! That’s kinda true. Most of what ticks me of is actually temporary stuff. So my new Mantra, “Be Calm. It Shall Pass.” 🙂
After all this introspection and internalization, when I get back home from office and Nick comes running into my arms with elation, the biggest reality strikes me in my gut. “I am his mother and I love him the most in this whole world and vice versa. So just learn to chill a bit and everything will be fine!”
Happy Parenting !