By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
They all do it. You know - that thing that drives you up a wall! No matter the age of your child and in spite of your best efforts, they inherently know exactly what button to push to get us to react. And it seems that the more we push for them to stop it, the more they pull back until the tug of war has escalated and within seconds, the sense of peace and beauty that we so desire in our homes is ruined. So what do we do? How can we conquer this frustrating behavior that frays at our nerves, fuels our frustration, and tests the limits of our patience?
Here are a few ideas that I have found helpful.
1. Take a break.
Take a few steps back. Retreat into my room for a few minutes – ALONE. Breathe! Regroup. Punch a pillow if it helps! Timeout for Mommy is not only healthy, but a sanity saver! As you remove your presence from the child they also get a chance to recover and try again. And while I take a break, I do what my knees were made for – I PRAY! When mothering moments go awry, I need help from a higher power. For me, this is God. I have found that He is always there – never too busy for me, never burdened by yet another plea for help. I pour out my heart with my worry, frustration, anger, and then, I LISTEN.
Sometimes I get an idea – I can see how I could have prevented the situation or how I could react in a better way next time or something simple I could do to help my child. It may not be the entire solution to the problem, but it is enough to get me headed back in the right direction. And as I implement that God-given idea, I regain confidence and my child and I regain a positive momentum. Other times after prayer, I am left with a simple yet reassuring sense of peace: I can handle this. I’ve got what it takes. I am a good mother. And other times, the answers aren't immediate but come along the way as God, my Father in Heaven goes behind-the-scenes with me and adds to my efforts.
2. Become curious.
Ask, “Why?” Why is my child behaving this way? What could he or she be feeling right now? What things are going on in this stage of their life that could cause this? Is there a little sibling rivalry going on? Is there a new baby that is diverting my attention? Perhaps something going on at school? I wonder: what is hard for them? How do they feel about themselves right now? Is there something I could do or say that would help to redirect their attention to something positive? When we become curious, we open up the door to the possible feelings of our children and we become more compassionate, empathetic, more loving. We can even help them to feel supported by helping them voice their own feelings. “Are you feeling sad, frustrated, lonely? How can I help?”
3. Model the behavior you want to see.
As hard as it may be to believe, it just may be that your child has not thought of a better way of doing things, even despite perpetual broken-record pleas from you. They may be in need of a consistent example to follow. Let’s say that your child has developed a habit of running through the house screaming. Although it may make you feel like pulling your hair out and yelling back, muster the mentality to smile and speak with a calm and quiet voice instead. “Let’s use our inside voices.” The important people in our children’s lives are like great big mirrors. What our children see in us, we will also eventually see in them. So, let’s be the best mirrors we can be accompanied with a smile, a hug, and a kiss.
Whatever we give our children attention for they will repeat. We already know that our children do the things that drive us bonkers often to get attention. So why not turn it around and use this to our advantage? Rather than handing out negative attention, we could choose to focus on those things that we want to continue and offer praise when we see them. For example, when I wish that the children would not fight and argue, I notice and thank the child at a time when they are being a peacemaker. “I love it when . . .” You fill in the blanks. My mom did this for me once in a simple way that stuck with me. One day she gave me a Mr. Goodbar candy bar with the explanation, “because you’re so good.” I didn’t know about shaping then, but every time I remembered that tasty treat, along with her other caring words and deeds, I felt like I was good and I tried to prove her correct!
5. Realize that we are not meant to control others.
I think I all too often learned this lesson the hard way, scraping the heels of my feet as I skidded along the road of hard-won control. As I struggled to learn a better way, I reflected often on a quintessential quote that I pinned on my Value Board:
“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.”
-- Thomas S. Monson
Such a beautiful reminder! This thought helped me to remember that the little people in my life were not bad, they were learning, just like I was learning how to mother with love.
Our children will inevitably do things that we do not approve of and this is not, I repeat NOT an indicator that we have failed as parents. And while that means that at times we need to discipline, we can leave out the empty threats, arguing, bribery, fighting.
Yes, our mission is not to control, but to teach, to influence, set an example, and - the best part of all - love them like crazy!
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Snuggled up in my arms, my little grandson stares up at me with his big beautiful innocent eyes. Together we rock back and forth in the overstuffed chair singing song after song and I’m convinced that I love him more every second! As I sing, my mind wanders back to yesteryear when my babies were tiny and I sang song after song to them – hoping to relax them and hush their sleepytime fears. Hoping to instill in them the things I knew were true. Hoping to fill their hearts with the love that I had for them.
It’s amazing how magical music can be! Music has a way of touching our hearts and filling our memories with the best things of life.
Music was at the heart of the home I grew up in, so naturally, as an adult, I shared it with my children. We sang lilting lullabies and fun children’s sing-along recordings. We also offered xylophones, harmonicas, recorders, and rhythm instruments for the little ones to explore creating their own sounds.
As a classical musician, I knew the benefits of classical music: an increased learning capacity, creativity, and self-esteem, to name only a few. Knowing that our children weren’t going to grow up on a farm (like my parents did), we still wanted to teach them hard work, patience, and discipline. We decided to instill these values through formal music lessons! Thus, we became the beneficiaries of practice sessions, morning-noon-and-night! We eagerly attended recitals and concerts galore! Music sweetly and simply lent a soothing atmosphere to our home and even our car, as we traveled to and fro.
Music became a parenting friend that would quiet the mayhem of the moment. When life became a little hairy and scary and the decibel level was a little too high, I would nonchalantly pop in a CD of classical music or church hymns (my secret weapons!) and - voila! - an essence of calm and peace would descend! Soon, things would settle down.
With a house full of rambunctious kiddos, we found that with a little creativity, there seemed to be a song for every situation that could gently persuade, teach, or motivate. Songs to make diaper changes more pleasant, songs to make hair washing less scary, songs to help children cooperate when it was time to brush their teeth. Sometimes songs distracted us from the mundane and helped to pass the time while we did the dishes or other chores. At bedtime, songs even helped us march up to bed in a happy way! We became a train connecting arms at the shoulders and chugging up the stairs singing, “Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?” The person in the lead would “pull the whistle” and up we went.
Music was an unseen friend that added joy and spontaneity to our lives at just the right time! Sometimes the music was a toe – tapping “Turkey in the Straw” for a Thanksgiving program! Or the girls would make up choreography to a whimsical children’s song, their fancy dresses swirling in a wide circle. Sometimes a child surprised us with an unsolicited solo of a kindergarten-melody as they stood atop a make-shift stage (aka a chair in the dining room). And impromptu Family Talent Shows gave us rousing marches, emphasized by mini flags in the front room!
With littles on the loose, life is more pleasant with a song in your heart. In your home or on the go, music has the power to create a sort of a haven that smooths the creases of chaos and lifts the spirit. So, whether your family chooses to learn an instrument or two, sing at top volume in the shower, or pop in a favorite CD, music is the power to make any moment a happy one!
Many years ago, this little essay was included in the newsletter at the School for the Deaf in Washington State. The author was listed as Carol Turkington. I'm not sure how it came to be included in my pile of papers, but whenever I would thin them out, this one would get saved. May her message help you as you adjust to whatever Holland-type situation your baby has brought you too.
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like you're planning a vacation to Italy. You're all excited. You get a whole bunch of guidebooks, you learn a few phrases so you can get around, and then it comes time to pack your bags and head for the airport.
Only when you land, the stewardess says, ‘Welcome to Holland.”
You look at one another in disbelief and shock, saying “Holland? What are you talking about? I signed up for Italy!”
But they explain there’s been a change of plans and that you've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
“But I don’t know anything about Holland!” you say. "I don’t want to stay!”
But stay you do. You go out and buy some new guidebooks, you learn some new phrases and you meet people you never knew existed. The important thing is that you are not in a slum full of pestilence and famine. You're simply in a different place that you had planned. It’s slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy, but after you've been there a little while and you have a chance to catch your breath, you begin to discover that Holland has windmills. Holland has tulips. Holland has Rembrandts.
But everyone else you know is busy coming and going from Italy. They're all bragging about what a great time they had there and for the rest of your life, you’ll say, “Yes, that’s what I had planned.”
The pain of that will never, ever go away.
You have to accept that pain, because the loss of that dream, the loss of that plan, is a very, very significant loss.
But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to go to Italy, you will never be free to enjoy the very special, very lovely things about Holland.
Written by Cindy Thomsen, Momivate's Director of Schedules & Systems. Originally published on her personal blog and reprinted here with her permission.
In answering the question, "What do Moms DO anyway??" Momivate declares that Moms R.A.I.S.E. U.P. society! The "A" in RAISE UP stands for Atmosphere. Moms, we create the haven we call home. With intention and deliberate effort, we contribute to the well being of our family's mentality through a pleasant atmosphere. Momivate is currently looking for a Director of Atmosphere! If you read the following blog post and feel like this is an area where you have strong desires to make an impact, please fill out our application!
Have you been in a home that just feels nice and you really can’t put a finger on it? There are things you can do to increase the overall feeling and good atmosphere in your home. Take a minute to observe your home. What is the overall feeling your home gives off? What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste as you look around? Using the 5 senses can help you set the tone in your home and improve the overall good feelings there.
Cindy's original blog post gives TONS of great ideas here: http://resilientmotherhood.net/how-to-use-the-senses-to-create-a-happy-home-environment/
By Regan Barnes, ChairMom of the MotherBoard
Every six months or so, for reasons so far unexplained, my vocal cords go on strike. Maybe it’s something to do with the change of seasons or an unidentified allergy… Whatever it is, I’m left without one of my main mothering weapons… ahem, uh, I mean, tools.
I used to be a yeller and have worked hard over the past 15 (or so) years to tone down so my kids won’t tune out. The occasional temporary loss of my voice has taught me an important lesson in this sense: volume matters, and lower is better.
During one of these vocal cord vacations, I needed to get my children’s attention and ask a question, but whispering was all I could do. I decided to clap first, then ask the question once I had eye contact with them.
*CLAP* (their eyes look up)
Me, whispering: “We don’t have any leftovers. What would you like for lunch instead?”
Much to my surprise, the child who responded used a whisper, too! Then another child wanted to give their input, and (although this malady of mine is not contagious, I swear) their two cents were given with the same reduced-volume breathiness.
We all looked at each other and started giggling, realizing that the kiddos unnecessary raspiness was simply a matter of “monkey see, monkey do” or more appropo to this situation: monkey hear, monkey speak.
While this particular story is with regards to the volume of my voice, I’ve found its lesson to hold true with regards to a wide range of hearing the echoes of myself as a mother.
If I yell too much, so do my kids.
If I take a deep breath and try to stay calm, so do my kids.
If I make excuses and avoid chores, so do my kids.
If I sing silly songs to make chores more pleasant, so do my kids.
If I use sarcasm, so do my kids.
If I give compliments, so do my kids.
You’re understanding, right, Mama? Do you hear these "echoes" in your own home as well? It can be humbling!!
Our maternal voice -- not just the loud or soft but the content as well -- is like a hoe digging ruts in the brains of our babies. When their voices start to flow, the forces of gravity dictate that they’ll fall into those ruts and follow our example.
Since the whispering incident brought this natural law to my awareness, now I can conscientiously hoe the rows that help their voices flow along adding harmony to our home. It takes effort, yes. But I can do hard things! And so can you, Mama!
Join our Momunity!
Provide your email address or texting number and we'll alert you to new posts!