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 Esperanza DeLaLuz
Being a mother is a thing which changes you forever. Once you make that commitment to a child, it’s the child’s well-being, growth, and happiness that is the most important thing in your world. You’ll go without sleep, go hungry, clean up disgusting substances, labor for hours to create the perfect event or costume, and spend hours and hours repeating activities that would otherwise be incredibly boring.
Recently I found myself playing 27 games of Candyland in a row because my 5-year-old granddaughter loves that game and can play it competently. I don’t like Candyland, but I love the excitement on her face when she makes a good move, or the exuberant thrill when she wins. Even the sadness when she has to go backwards is just adorable!
Do you know the history of Candyland? An article in the Atlantic recently described it! During the Polio era, before vaccines, there were lots of very young children in hospitals and they were very bored, lonely and unhappy. But many of them were too young to read and unable to play games without adult involvement.
In 1948, a retired schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott decided to create a board game that could become a distraction for very young patients. The outbreak had forced children into extremely restrictive environments. Concerned with the spread of polio, parents kept their children indoors, and children were frustrated. Games like Candy Land became an ideal way to keep them occupied.
Children who had contracted polio were isolated, physically weak and often confined by equipment. Candy land was designed to let young children play by themselves. As long as the child can count to 2 and match colors the child can play. Candy Land offered the children confined in hospitals welcome distraction—but it also gave immobilized patients a liberating fantasy of movement. The joy of movement, especially for polio patients, seems to have been integral to Abbott’s design philosophy from the start. The original board even depicts the tentative steps of a boy in a leg brace!
The game teaches pattern recognition and following instructions. It shows children how to play together—how to win humbly or lose graciously. The game is designed to be outgrown. As soon as a child realizes that there is nothing that, they can do to alter the course of the game, they begin to desire more challenging entertainments. But there will always be young children who need a game that they can play, and Moms and Nannas who will play 27 games in a row for the pure joy of watching a child play.
READ the whole history here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/07/how-polio-inspired-the-creation-of-candy-land/594424/
By Diana Duke, Secretary on Momivate's MotherBoard
They say that patience is a virtue. Sometimes I wonder if it's a virtue I once mastered and then lost somewhere along the way. I think back to a time before I was a mother, when I had all of the patience in the world. I worked at a group home for children with disabilities and quickly found how much I loved it. As time moved on, I started a family and found myself venturing into other fields. However, at the top of my priorities was being a mother to my children. I had an amazing husband and, although we had our struggles, life was good.
I wish I’d had more time to be the wife I always wanted to be, but things took a turn for the worse and I found myself widowed at thirty-one. I completely fell apart for a while. I lost my sense of self, and that patience I’d had was now something that I was searching for. I feel that it is something I am really struggling with, yet all of the time everyone around me is telling me, “You have so much patience—I don't know how you do it!” I am constantly being told what a good mother I am and, though I am grateful for their kind comments, it leads me to wonder who I am.
I don't feel patient. I don't feel so wonderful all the time. I think we as mothers are often our own hardest critics. However, I am pretty competitive, so I have to believe that the bar that I set long ago for myself has to be attainable or I wouldn't have set it in the first place. I want to be happy, and I want my children to be happy. I find that getting back to the basics makes life so much easier. Being patient with ourselves, patient with our children, and being patient with those around us makes us kinder and more gentle.
I know that it can be hard when you don't know where to start. But you just have to start where you are. So that is what I'm doing--jumping in and starting where I am. Even as I write this, I have found myself worrying; not knowing what to write about; stressing out that nobody wants to hear about my chaotic struggles. But we are human and we all have our own challenges. We need to be patient with ourselves.
Right now one of my challenges is the never-ending laundry pile--I never get to cross it off my to-do list, so I never get the satisfaction of completion. However, what I can do is set a goal for how many loads I can do today. That way I am able to cross something off my to-do list with satisfaction. I can go on and on about the steps I have to take to be patient with myself. We are all different; what works for me isn't going to work for everyone else. But each of us can do something to quiet those negative, self-defeating thoughts in our heads. What are some things you can do to be patient with yourself?
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