Often in the midst of dire, “help me now” parenting moments, instead of looking for the most appropriate strategy for our situation, the kindest way, the way that will have the longest lasting effects, the way that will improve my relationship with my children forever, I sometimes think, “What is the fastest way to solve this problem”. Because, being a sleep deprived mother of 3, pulled in 3 different directions in any one moment, wanting a shower for the first time in 3 days, sometimes, I just want it done. Now. So I can sleep. Or shower.
Having previously thought that getting angry might work, or at least make me feel a bit better (literally blow off steam), I’ve often (an understatement?) just lost the plot. Screamed, yelled, threatened, punished. Sometimes I’ve thought counting to 3 might work, like at the end, by some miracle the spell would have worked and the kids would have turned into model children, sitting at the perfectly laid dinner table in their crisp starched white smocks, waiting for their daily serve of meat and vegetables.
And then, sometimes, when they’ve caught me on a good day, energetic, positive, loving, well slept, they might do something to push my buttons, something that would usually tip me over the edge, and I find myself showing them that I still love them, no matter what. Laughing with them, hugging them, reassuring them. And do you know what? It has turned out to be the fastest way. The fastest way to diffuse the situation, the fastest way to reconnect and become closer to each other, and most importantly (in that moment at least), the fastest way to overcome the testing behaviour.
Initially in these instances I would think the bad behaviour was gone because my child had “won”, because they got what they wanted, or because Mummy gave in. I thought I was taking the easy way out and persisted in trying to find a better strategy.
But now, onto my 3rd child, having read plenty of parenting books, thousands of blog posts and studied 2 degrees based on children and relationships, I’m coming to realise it works because it is right.
I know some of you reading this who already know this beautiful secret, that the more nurtured, reassured and listened to, the better our relationship with our children, but then why are there so many “guides” to good behaviour, difficult to follow, with specific rules, like counting, special chairs to sit in, naughty steps, reward charts etc etc etc. Surely it can not be as simple as loving and being compassionate?