Gentle parenting gone bad??(12 Posts)
I have an almost 7 year old boy and a 4 1/2 year old boy and when they were younger I felt like I was doing a great job. I hate labels and stuff but I breast fed them till 1+, co slept when they were little, and carried them in a sling when they were fussy. Not cos it fit a certain type of parenting but it felt natural at the time. All of which I was led to believe produced happy and nuturing parent-child relationships.
However over the past 2 years things have gotten out of hand. Im constantly losing my temper, I scream and shout at them (what feels like) all day long, I clench my jaw till the muscles hurt when they are annoying me which is all the time. About 3 months ago I split up with their dad and I look forward to them going to his to stay so I can have peace. I really want to reconnect and find happiness with them again but most advice on gentle parenting I can find seems to be aimed at babies and young children.
They are good kids just noisy and biosterous in that way a lot of little boys can be. I know the problem lies with me I just cant seem to find the way to change.
Any and all advice welcome thanks!
Get a national trust pass and go for long walks when you can. Wear them the fuck out at every opportunity.
Are your only options gentle parenting or angry shouty parenting? Can you find a happy medium. Break ups are hard (even if wanted) so I would be kind on yourself.
Maybe look into how to stop shouting and feeling angry. It will have nothing to do with your kids and more to do with other aspects of your life which are creating the anger. Once you feel happier in yourself it will reflect in your parenting.
Be kind to yourself, stop comparing to your younger self and then youll start being more patient with your children. X
I think one of the least thought about aspects of being a lone parent is that when your kids are totally, utterly, pushing you to the limit and beyond, nobody comes in to give you a time out to swallow your impatience, re centre yourself and then go back in and deal calmly with the situation.
Somehow you have to find the strength within yourself to find your calm and happy place, even when your kids seem determined to push you to the edge of the cliff and straight over.
I don't always manage it, and that's when I shout, and throw around stupid ultimatums, and rather than calming a situation I too ramp up the tension so that everyone is at boiling point. Accept that you're human and sometimes you won't manage every situation exactly right. Sometimes I can HEAR the voice in the back of my head saying "calm down, you're losing it" but it's gone too far and it's too late, the shouting happens anyway.
Identify your flash point and work wayyyyy in advance to avoid. So if bedtime is an issue, when you're all exhausted and tempers fray, get them into pjs before dinner. So at that point you're not at the end of your tether and once bedtime comes they are only brushing teeth - it doesn't seem such a challenge. Or if it's getting out of the house in the morning, start the night before with setting everything out so that the breakfast table is ready and bags just have to be grabbed etc etc.
Sometimes I really do find it helps to count to ten. During that counting time it often occurs to me that the problem isnt that they're being fucking idiots about clearing their dishes from the table, the real problem is that they're tired and I'm rushing them when actually I could just hold off, or maybe I want them to turn off the tv and I'm ready to shout and lose my rag, but actually the rest of the cartoon is only ten minutes so maybe I could bargain and say when the cartoon is finished its time to go, or whatever.
Count to ten, leave the room and scream into a pillow (helps to relieve tension so you then re-enter the room calmly and able to address the problem), but most of all don't be harsh on yourself. Your kids are human with human emotions and sometimes they're tired and grotty and it's to be expected, but equally sometimes you yourself are tired and grotty and you're only human too. Don't beat yourself up.
Identifying the flash points is great.
Mine is getting ready to leave in the morning and finding out they haven't got their pe kit or can't find their shoes. Every night before they have a bath they now have to lay their clothes out and check their bags to make sure everything is ready for the next day and to prevent me becoming shouty if it's not. It's my stress about being late that makes me shout but I've made them take responsibility for sorting it out.
My ds can be a nightmare, he's defiant and likes being naughty.
Just how I was I've stopped shouting and make him do press ups when he doesn't listen. Probably not gentle parenting but taking away tech and grounding him from going out was making him more miserable and more likely to be naughty since he would already be grounded anyway.
The book 'How to talk so your kids will listen' is an oldie but a goody for tips on shouting less.
Kids do drive you nuts though - thats their job get them outside running about as much as possible. Have a few ground rules and make sure they now the consequences for when those rules are broken. Don't shout but be consistent, you sound a little worn down by it all which unfortunately means they will just play you up even more!
I only have a three year old but Aha parenting site seems to have a lot of good info for older kids, might be worth a look?
Thank you so much for all your kind words and suggestions.
It's not like I feel duty bound to the whole gentle parenting concept I guess I just mentioned it to emphasis how much things have changed. Sometimes when I lose it it's almost like I can see myself from the outside and I think 'what are you doing? Is that really an appropriate reaction??'.
But they definately play up to my angry side especially my older one. I think he's at this funny inbetween stage where he's not a little boy anymore but he's not quite a big boy and I'm having trouble understanding/connecting with him. But they can't stay little forever huh?
The reason they play up to your angry side is that they can sense vulnerability and it's not that they are nasty about it: it's that it frightens them. A growing child knows subconsciously that he is going to have to push boundaries to gain independence, and it's like when you push on a wall for leverage at take-off: you have to know that the wall is strong and will not give way. If you suspect its strength, then you will keep pushing at it. Or if you have an achy tooth, you keep probing it with your tongue hoping to be reassured that it isn't really sore. If the first push shows that the wall is strong and sound, or if the tooth doesn't hurt when you probe it, you stop probing. Same with a parent: if they react with outward calm, eventually the child will get calmer too.
This doesn't mean we have a duty as parents to always feel strong and capable and calm. That's where the wall analogy breaks down. Being people, we can fake it. Pretend we are somebody else: I used to go for a headteacher: the grey-haired kind in a tweed suit who has seen it all before and, while she will stand no nonsense, has nothing left to be shocked about. Pretend to be slightly bored. Have a plan for how you will portray this character and distract yourself in some way when you feel like losing it (I seemed to put on an awful lot of kettles at one time). It will pass.
And, as others have said, be kind to yourself.
Thanks cory, I'm not the OP but I suspect your advice will come in handy in the future.
Yes thanks again. Even just keeping that picture of a strong, steady wall in my head will be a help in the future I think.
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