My kids were bouncing around on the bed tonight, singing ‘Ring Around the Rosie‘. I told Margo (the older one) to stop (for the eighteen millionth time) because the little one is still a toddler and clumsy on her feet. Margo didn’t really listen and I didn’t really have the energy to pull them apart soooo… a minute later, they were crumpled up in a heap on the bed, crying and clutching at their freshly sustained injuries. The little one had a bloody mouth and the big kid had been bashed on the head by some sharp flying body part, like an elbow or chin. Both were hurt and both were crying really hard.
I got so angry!!! I wanted to yell and scream and give my big girl a whack across the face. I almost yelled out, “SEE!!?! I FUCKING TOLD YOU THAT SOMEONE WOULD GET HURT!” But, I did not. I took a deep breath and observed how my own blood was boiling. I held the little one close while she swallowed her own blood and the big one was near my legs, grabbing her head and sobbing. When the crying and the bleeding and the head rubbing stopped, (and after I checked for more serious injuries) I took a deep breath… Then, I held a *calm* conversation with Margo about how we have to be careful on the bed. I reminded her about a friend who had broken her arm while jumping on the bed. I told her that when I say to stop doing something, it’s because I don’t want anyone to get hurt. She agreed that it was not a smart thing to do and that next time they sang ‘Ring Around the Rosie‘, they would do it on the floor, where there was less of a chance of bashing into each other.
Sometimes, it takes every bit of strength in my being to stop the urge to yell, hit, scream, stomp my feet, holler every profanity in urban dictionary, or to not punch the wall. I’ve even been a yogi/meditator for TWELVE YEARS and I still get intensely angry at times (although, it’s MUCH less than it used to be, probably because of all of the time I’ve racked up on that yoga mat). When I’m tired, overwhelmed or stressed, it’s even harder to keep myself from loosing the plot. But… I do my best. It’s not ME that wants to yell hit and scream… it’s some weirdo conditioned response that probably got passed down to me from when I was a kid. It is slowly going away and making way for me to come up with new and creative ways of dealing with a hairy situation. But, it’s taken years.
When I get those strong feelings of anger towards my kids (or anything), I force myself to stop. I won’t react in that way! I won’t listen to those stupid voices in my head. I won’t! It’s not even always a case of getting angry. Sometimes, it’s a case of not wanting my kids to make a mistake or even just that I want them to do something a certain way (like using the right bowl when they have cereal). I’m not saying that I don’t get angry, but the way in which I CHOOSE to respond in those situations is different to just blinding having a reaction to what they do.
I mean, what good would it do to yell, hit, holler or insult at a child?! It might stop the problem for a little while… for sure, yelling, hitting, and using punishment scares the bejeezes out of kids, and makes them stop what they are doing, but then the problem will transfer itself to something else, later on down the track. And, then it will take more hitting, more yelling and more threats in order to make the kids scared into not doing something… a very vicious cycle indeed.
(Interesting to note, there was a study done on the childhoods of the Nazis… all of them grew up in authoritarian households where they were taught to fear their parents and to never question what they were told to do!)
I’m not perfect, I’m sure that I don’t handle every situation as I should… but each and every day, I’m more and more aware of the way I deal with scenarios surrounding my kids. Each and every day I tell the bullshit thoughts and automatic responses that I *would have said*, to go away and make room for a better way to *say what I WANT to say*. I don’t expect the voices in my head to be quiet all at once. I mean, it took X amount of years of conditioning for those automated responses to grow a presence in my brain, so I don’t expect them to go away over night. They’ve been lurking there for a long time and it was only once my older one got to be about 2 1/2 years old and I had a baby to deal with at the same time, that they really started to come out. But, I owe it to my kids and I owe it to society to make each and every day an exercise to tell those stupid voices in my head to go away!
Do you have voices in your head 😉
*If you find yourself getting uncontrollably angry with your children, don’t feel ashamed, please seek professional counseling. If you’re looking for ways to gently deal with you child’s behaviour, and are looking for ways to deal with their behaviour without the use of punishments or rewards, I highly recommend reading ‘Attachment Play‘ by Aletha Solter. If you’re looking for ways to destress so you have more energy to deal with hairy situations, I highly recommend doing an Art of Living course near you.