Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mean Mommy

Lately I've been struggling a lot with my son's behaviour.
Yes, he's a toddler. Yes, he says the word no a lot. Yes, that's typical toddler behaviour. I know temper tantrums are to be expected, and I'm ready to face them head on.
But, what I've been thinking about, and really questionning myself on is how much of this is typical toddler behaviour and how much of this is me allowing my child to be a brat. Because, some days, I have to admit that Matt is kind of bratty.
Don't get me wrong. I love my child to death. And, much of the time I appreciate him for the adorable, wonderful, loving child that he is.
But, I don't want him to be a brat.
I'm starting to notice that some of these bratty behaviours occur only around me. For instance, he can be playing really nicely at daycare, see me, and suddenly start whining. Or, I'll stick around to talk to his teacher and he just starts being bad.
His favourite trick is to pull my arm really hard until I leave. I just let him do it. His teacher stepped in and said "Matthew. That hurts Mommy. Stop."
She was firm and serious and he stopped. Right away.
Or, if he goes to open the door and leave I let him do it, and then chase him down the hall. Kayla (his teacher) tells him no, and he just walks away.
According to the reading I've done, part of this is because I'm his mom. And, he's more comfortable around me. Knows my limits, all of that. And, his teachers play a different role. So, okay. That's fine.
But, I am learning I need to be a little firmer.
So, I've started.
Call it Operation Mean Mommy. Call it whatever you want. But, I've had it with all of this bad behaviour.
The one thing his teacher suggested is that I need to be really clear in my demands. So, today when he kept saying no to me about getting dressed I said (in my new mean mommy voice)
"Mommy does not like it when you say no to me."
So, he looked at me, said yes, and on went the clothes.
Ummmm ... okay. This is easy!
Then at daycare I asked for my hug goodbye. He was completely pre-occupied with his trains and said "not right now. Wait a minute" (well, actually he said "wait a millet").
So I said "No. Mommy has to go to work - I don't like it when you say not right now."
And he jumped up and came running for a kiss.
Apparently we need to use the phrases that work for him. So, we are learning. But, the one thing I do know is that as Matthew gets older I want a child who is fun to be around. I'm not looking for a little soldier with no opinion. But, screaming at me, hitting me, and not respecting me at all. I've finally had it.


Anonymous said...

It's like walking a tightrope. Too soft and you get walked over like a rug; too firm and you wind up without independent thought (or even worse a rebellion when they're too old for you to control).

I think you've got a good strategy, explaining why something is inappropriate (i.e. that you cannot wait a minute because you have to go to work). You just have to commit to it for the long haul and it'll work itself out.

Haley-O said...

This is a great post, Laural. :) I'm struggling with the same thing, as the monkey enters toddlerdom (officially). I'm starting to discipline. She's testing me, and I'm testing her. I think, you're right, "we are learning." Maybe keep that phrase in mind when you start doubting yourself (and I'll do the same!) ;).

Searaygal said...

Good for you Laural!
And great approach to it too. I have no doubt Matty will turn out wonderfully, with you and Mike as his parents he's already ahead of the game in many ways :)

Amanda said...

Good for you! I am proud of you for taking a new approach. Yes, it is so true--kids do behave much differently with their parents than they do their teachers. I believe that a huge part of that is because teachers have to control "x" number of students all at once, if there is too much leeway (sp?) they will have an entire class that has lost control. Parents tend not to be as firm with their children and firm doesn't mean MEAN, it just means firm. My philosophy has always been "be firm but fair", but I do find it is definitely hard to take my own advice with my daughter. Consistency is the next most important thing to remember, over and over and over again, the SAME thing! He will get it soon....