A Mother’s Patience and How Not To Lose It
Many a times #JasperBean has tested my patience
some days, most days everyday… he would suddenly start crying and throw massive tantrums from no where and no matter how much I calmly speak to him, he just wouldn’t stop or even let me know what has upset him so much. He would just constantly repeat “mummy, mummy, mummy”. I’ve tried talking, hugging, cuddling, leaving him alone to calm down, distraction, food, everything, but in those moments, nothing will do. Like many mummies out there, I’ve discovered that I have reserves of patience that I didn’t know existed.
I was and still am a hot tempered woman, just as I was when I was in my teens. I would test the limits of my family, boyfriends, S and even my friends. Nowadays, I am experiencing the same hot temperament from my child. Is this what you call karma?
Unfortunately, as I have found with this new reserve of patience, it does
once in a while often run out if I’m taking too much from it and not giving it time to refill. Like the time when he was kicking and screaming in his car seat for no reason other than the sheer fact that he didn’t want to be strapped down. I was only driving to the shops, a mere 10 minutes away. I am ashamed to admit that I lost it and my yelling did not help with the situation. It only made matters worse by not keeping him or myself calm. Luckily, I was still rational enough to stop the car on a side road. How dangerous would this have been if I had not kept my eyes on the road whilst driving? However, my crazy yelling did not stop with my car… Where was my patience when I desperately needed it?
“Good patience involves providing children with time to complete tasks within their developmental abilities.” Dr. Audrey Huberman
We have to acknowledge the fact that our children have their own thoughts and feelings, what is seemingly unimportant to me may be very important to him. When #JasperBean had his meltdown in the carseat, all I wanted for him to do was be quiet and sit still. I failed to acknowledge his feelings. I understand that parenting is not about compliance, but that was all I wanted in that moment of time. My frustration blinded me and I couldn’t see that resistance is normal, I didn’t try to listen or understand what he was trying to communicate.
To a lot of traditional Oriental families, he would just have been seen as being naughty and if I had “given in” and let him “win”, I would be spoiling or indulging his bad behaviour. I know that parenting is not a battle and it’s not about winning or losing and I know he wasn’t trying to be intentionally naughty. I know he doesn’t mean to do it and it is just a part of his mental and emotional development. Many experts of child development agree that young children do not understand how their behaviour impacts others. However, when I lose it, I lost it, all these theories went out the window.
It happens to the best of us
Remember times when you tell your child to be quiet in a restaurant, on an aeroplane or even when you’re just trying to have a quiet moment? Well, isn’t it convenient that these are the times they choose to shriek, tap or bang on anything they can get their hands on or just scream? Or the times when you’re running late and you need them to move faster? Don’t they start playing with all the things that had been lost underneath the sofa for months or picking books to read from the bookshelf? Yes, we’ve all experienced it.
As human beings, we have the ability to empathise. But when we lose our cool, the emotional centre in our brain is firing out of control and we lose all sense of empathy. We find it impossible to attune to our children in this state and we often find ourselves saying or doing things that we later regret. So what can we do to prevent this from happening? Here are some tips that might help you out.
Count to 10
Slowly counting to 10 allows you to concentrate on yourself and your breathing. This gives you time and the opportunity to turn your anger/frustration back down a couple notches.
No, not the chocolate bar, but having chocolate may temporary lift your mood as it releases serotonin into your brain. But if you find yourself highly irritated and about to lose your cool, stop, take a break and if possible safely remove yourself from the situation. Take a feel deep breaths or engage in an activity that can help you relax, whether this is going for a walk, surfing the web or praying. The importance is to re-balance your emotional centre. Removing yourself from the situation also provides you sometime to reflect on what happened. Ask yourself what bothered you so much that you couldn’t remain calm? Making memories explicit will also allow us to reconnect and feel compassionate again.
Plan your time
Being a parent is already a full time job, there is always a million and one things to do. Planning and organising your day is essential to avoid meltdowns due to over-scheduling. Don’t try to fit everything in, it’s impossible, even if it wasn’t, you would be so stressed that a poke in the wrong direction could leave you spiralling out of control. Remember, you want to experience life with your children, not race.
Recognise your triggers
Recognising what makes you tick or pushes you over the edge is important.
- Lack of sleep? Definitely.
- Disagreement with partner? Absolutely.
- Unhappy at work? Possibly.
- Housework? Wouldn’t it be great to make it magically disappear?
These are all pretty universal potential triggers, but what about those button pushers that are highly individualised?
For me, it’s when he’s constantly screaming “mummy mummy mummy”, I try and stay calm and ask him what is the matter and what does he want? Does he want me to hold him? To talk to him or just to stop and listen? I tell him that I can’t hear what he wants because he’s screaming, but when all I get is more hysterical “mummy mummy mummy”, I start to lose it.
If I’m home, obviously I can choose to walk away from the situation. Although something at the back of my mind tells me I shouldn’t, because would my child think I’m abandoning him in his hour of need? But removing myself from the situation is far more important than staying in case I completely lose it. So I tell #JasperBean, “Mummy is upset and needs to have some quiet time“. Sometimes he will follow me, sometimes he would have calmed down by the time I return. Regardless of what happens, understanding and recognising what triggers you is important so that you can predict and plan your reaction.
Obviously it would be best if you can completely avoid the situation from being so bad that everyone loses their marbles. So next time you sense something nasty brewing in your child’s mood, try lightening the mood with humour. Crack a few jokes, pull a silly face or sing some funny songs. They will soon forget what they were crying about. Laughter isn’t known as the best medicine for nothing.
Know and communicate your limits
How many times have you sat through Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, The Teletubbies or endless versions of The Wheels on the Bus? Or countless readings of “Brown Bear”, “Bizzy Bear” or “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”? Only to be asked for more or excited faces shouting “Again, again!” I definitely have been there, done that. After reading or telling the story from the same book for the 5th, I am truly done. I have my limits too, but I know what #JasperBean needs is not an irritated mum, but a happy one. So how do I break away before it breaks me? The easiest and most effective way I have tried is telling him that mummy loves him but needs a break too. Even at his young age, he understands.
Sorry seems to be the hardest word
If we really did lose it, the single most important thing to do is admit it. As adults, we find it very hard to say sorry. We find it embarrassing to admit that we lost it. Many of us just don’t want to discuss what happened, the saying “the past remains in the past” and “forgive and forget” comes into mind. However, learning from our mistakes and not to letting history repeat itself is more important. If we avoid addressing the situation immediately, this leaves our children confused and they will blame themselves for what happened.
You should encourage your child to talk about their feelings too as this will help them understand and make sense of the experience. If they do not want to talk about it, don’t force it. Emphasis should be on apologising and talking through it calmly. Don’t let this turn into another power struggle. Therefore, swallow your pride and say sorry. Apologising for our bad behaviour not only teaches your child about social behaviour/standards but is also important for a heathy relationship and upbringing.
No one is perfect
I’m the last person to claim that I am the perfect parent, but I know I can always be better. If you have read to the end of this post, congratulations! As parents of active and demanding children, we should be proud that we recognise our faults and have taken actions to find ways to deal with ours and our childrens’ meltdowns.
Sometimes our children’s only way of communication is through crying. If we can stay calm and attune to their emotional state, we are far better equipped to read them and handle the situation accordingly. When was the last time you lost it? And how did you deal with it?
Thanks for reading and until next time…
Love MsMamaBean x
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