by Kerry Haggard is mom to the two most beautiful boys that ever there were. She’s a writer, editor and a wannabe organic vegetable farmer. She’s also a redhead, and recently realised that she has the temper to go with that. Follow her on Twitter: @KerryHaggard
This morning was an early one – up at 5h00, with both boys wanting different things, from Easter eggs to Cbeebies. I’m comfortable with the TV as my (very happy) helper at that time of the morning, and with boys settled in front of Mr Maker, I snuck off to check mail on my computer in the next room.
And that’s where things started going pear-shaped. Both boys came through, both wanting to sit on the one spare seat, and then Daniel (the older one) wanted to watch YouTube (which he can surf by himself), a Thomas the Tank Engine video, and then he asked for his own computer games (which are not set up at the moment) – all in the space of about 30 seconds. He responded to my ‘no, not now’ answers to all of those by stomping his feet, shouting at me and throwing a basketful of Lego in all directions. Not a normal reaction for this mostly peaceful boy – but a reaction that made me see red, and lose the 5h30 plot a little.
I smacked his pyjama’d bottom, told him that he is not allowed to throw things at me, and told him to go to his room. When he sat there apologising in tears, I thought of all those experts that tell us to be consistent and mean what we say, and I insisted that he go to his room, eventually resorting to carrying him there to prove my point.
And then I stopped and thought about it (which I probably should have done before the part where I saw red). This whole scene started because both my little boys wanted to be with me, and Daniel particularly wanted my attention. When he didn’t get it in the way that he was hoping for, he got frustrated, and angry. Which made me angry. But why am I allowed to get angry, and he is not? If he is allowed to get angry (which I believe he is), just how do I teach him how to express that anger? And how do I control my own emotions when I am frustrated (at being up at the crack of dawn) myself, and just want a little bit of space?
I know I am the adult in this, and I know it is my job to teach him how to deal with his feelings in a constructive way.
But I don’t think I did a very good job of teaching him, or setting a good example, this morning. How do other parents deal with their little ones’ frustration?
*A note: This is only the third time in his nearly five years that I have smacked Daniel on his bottom. I believe that there is a time and a place for a smack on the bottom, but never with anything other than my hand, and more for effect than injury. I don’t think that his actions this morning deserved my response, which is why I’m disturbed by it, and would love to how other parents deal with this type of situation.