Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Watch your tone, young lady!

It seems inevitable.
I wake up and decide, "Today, I'm going to be a good mom!"
Then it happens.
Isaac begins a temper tantrum because there's a sticker stuck to his sock.
Then Silas starts to cry because he's been doing "tummy time" 2 minutes too long.
Okay, deep breath!
"It's okay, Isaac, Mommy will help you!" as I roll the baby over.
Then the full-blown meltdown begins because big brother's not too happy that little brother got helped first.
Be a good mom. Be a good mom.
I rush over to save Isaac from the attack of the killer sticker and he kicks me with his free leg.
And I lose it.
"Isaac Steven! You do NOT kick Mommy! Do you understand me? That's a bad boy!"
Then I console and cuddle him and sigh. This is going to be a loooong day.
And I'm immediately discouraged.
Am I doing the right thing?
How on earth do you parent a toddler well?
I've been constantly second guessing myself with Isaac as he's gotten older. How much does he understand? One day I decide he understands most, if not all, that I'm telling him to do and find myself being very strict with him. The next day I'm not so sure and I let a few things slide. I think we're making progress in an area and then he proves me wrong in the grocery aisle for all the world to see my shortcomings as a mother. Sometimes I feel like I'm just waiting until he gets "old enough" so I can parent him "right." I feel like I'm in this weird transition time where I know he needs to face consequences for his sin, but I don't know how to do it well. I just wish I had a little more confidence in my approach instead of this trial and error, frustrating, floundering approach.
A few days ago, I was reading/re-reading "Don't Make Me Count to Three!" by Ginger Plowman (which I highly recommend) and came across something that showed me that even though I may not be able to know without a doubt how much he does and doesn't understand, there is something that I WASN'T doing the right way. In her chapter, "Guidelines on Verbal Correction" she says "You are ready to reprove your child biblically when you can speak to him in a normal tone of voice and with carefully measured words: 'The heart of the righteous weighs its answers but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.' (Prov. 15:28)" Yikes! There's not been a whole lot of "answer weighing" going on in this Mama's house lately. One reason is because I'm proud. There's a certain "type" of parent I don't want to be. You know the ones. Their child throws their toy out of the cart at Target and mom says in a sing-songy voice with a smile on their face, "No, no, honey, that's not nice" as her child proceeds to throw their other toy out with their other hand. Um, hello! Ineffective! I'm WAY better than that. I'm a no-nonsense kind of mom. I get right up in his face and tell him no like I mean it and let him know that he's exhibiting inappropriate behavior and hope that the intensity in my voice puts the fear in him that it should. And then he throws his other toy out of the cart with his other hand.
So, I gave it a shot today. Isaac has this annoying habit of screaming just for the sake of hearing himself scream. He started it up at lunch today and in a calm voice, I told him to stop and that the next time he screamed, he would get a spanking. Two seconds later, a shrill yelp escaped his lips and I calmly walked over and told him, "Mommy told you not to scream. You disobeyed me. You are to honor Mommy and Daddy and because you didn't Mommy has to spank you." I took care of his punishment and we finished eating. He didn't scream again (until after his nap, of course!) Not a perfect success, but maybe with practice we'll get better. Could it have been "luck"? Perhaps. Will it work every time? I highly doubt it. Did I feel better than I usually do after I have to punish him? Much!
I want more than anything to show a godly example to my sons and I'm pretty sure I can't do that well when I'm yelling at them for disobeying me. I was amazed by how well using the wisdom found in God's Word worked. (I know, I know, I really am a slow learner.) The punishments were the same, but because I took a second to think about my response to the behavior, I left the situations feeling more confident that I had done the right thing. It was a good feeling. I could get used to this. So, next time I'm tempted to raise my voice and let Isaac have it, I pray that the Holy Spirit gently reminds me, "Watch your tone, young lady!"


  1. Amazing Desire! Thank you for sharing this. As a mother of a 4 year old and a 2 year old I can tell you it doesn't get any easier in my opinion. I had not heard of the book you mentioned but you can believe I will be buying it soon!! What an awesome example to be setting with your children.

  2. Girl, ME TOO!!!!!!!!!!! It is such a struggle with this age. I find myself getting discouraged, or have Mommy guilt. :) Just know that you aren't alone. If you ever need a playdate let me know. The boys would love playing together!!!!
    I love ya.

  3. I struggle with it too. I've noticed I can head off Samuel's massive screaming fits if I don't get so loud and agitated at him. (At least most of the time.) But, motherhood is a learning process and even though it seems we fail more than we get it right, as long as we are trying to do it right we will succeed.

    As a side note, you could try a drop of lemon juice on his tongue when he screams. I had to do that with Samuel and it only took a day maybe two to get the point across. Just an idea. Blessings!

  4. Mendy- You should DEFINITELY get the book. It's a wonderful investment!

    Catrina- A playdate would be great!

    Jenny- Thanks for the encouragement and the tip! We may be trying it out soon if he doesn't get better! :)