Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 80- I Am The "Bad" Parent/Teacher

This is continuing from Day 78- The Adult Tantrum

In this blog I will be touching the point of my adult tantrum when it comes to my 2 year 7 month old
son and my perception of what discipline is and how I will be correcting my behavior towards him.

"I ask my son to do something, he refuses- throws a fit (screaming). The screaming itself really irritates me- I feel it in my solar plexus. I want it to stop. First, I tell him nicely but he does not listen, which escalates my irritation- Second, I raise my voice. That does not help. Third, I get physical (force him to do what I asked him to do). He is wiggling around "fighting" me back screaming harder. Next my head is rushing with what to do next to make him stop screaming (thoughts are coming through my mind of spanking him to make him stop). But I don't do it I suppress it in and then I feel guilty for having those thoughts because I know that is not the way to do it as it does not set up a good example for the child and it only shows that hitting is Ok which then contradicts what I am trying to teach him/model for him (that hitting is not Ok).
My body is warm, I'm feeling angry until I get him to do what I wanted then we both relax a little but I still feel heaviness in my solar plexus. This time I want to tell him that I don't like what he is doing, how he is screaming so I use a high voice (coming from a reaction)- I feel it comes from anger that he refused to listen to what I asked him to do. It can be something as simple as me asking him to put on a jacket because it is cold outside. I've explained to him why he has to put it on but he is still refusing".
This reaction/feeling began before my son was born.
I worked in a day care with toddlers and some of them were having tantrums or hitting other children. As I recall it was then that I built this way of responding to the children who did not listen to me. I remember for the first time then having a hard time with a child in general. The first weeks were detrimental (with one child in particular who is what I would refer to as a “bully”, “getting in trouble”, “defiant”). I recall writing a blog about it saying that this job is supposed to show me something in my process- but instead I allowed it to built a reaction within me when it came to children who would refuse my directions and I did not know how to handle them. So as a "natural/programmed" reaction to their behavior I became defensive. 
I started to say/believe that children as such must be disciplined and my definition of discipline became to not allow them to have/get their way (especially during a tantrum or whining) because that to me showed that they will start walking “over me” for anything else they wanted to do. 
I questioned my way of approach but I did not know what other method I can use. My approach was effective to a certain extent but it did not prevent the behavior to stop overall or bring an understanding to the child to why their behavior is not acceptable, or nor did I look into why they were having this behavior on the first place and from there target my approach. That is because I was reacting.
So when my son was born I said to myself that I will do everything to make sure he is disciplined in doing what is right and that I will not allow him to get his way during tantrums. But I did not realize that until recently that I was also experiencing and participating in a tantrum through my way of approach- the adult tantrum.
Now that I work in pre-k I've come across some children with bad behavior/manners which played as a confirmation in my mind that this behavior is caused by bad parenting, by allowing the child to get their way which equals not being disciplined (students 3-5 who refuse to follow the teacher's directions and have a hard time participating in teacher guided/structured activities). And as my son is growing up- he started with screaming first, and now with saying “NO” to things I ask him to do- which in my head I make a connection to those children at my work and it only makes my goal of not allowing my son to get his way stronger because I don't want him to turn into one of THOSE children (I don't want to be the bad parent who did not discipline their child to behave, to be able to follow instructions/directions without any problems).
Here are some of the problems I have with my son that will cause a tantrum (mild or full blown).
-asking him to use the toilet
-sucking his thumb
-leaving my mom's/her husband (when I pick him up)
-taking a shower (he is Ok with washing in the sink- but put him under the shower and he screams)
-putting on a jacket and/or a hat
-not picking him up when he wants to
-not getting something that he is determined to get (not anything in particular, it can be a toy, food...)
-not wanting the clothes I am putting on him
-telling him how to behave in public places
-leaving the park
-leaving any place that he does not want to leave in that particular moment
-fighting me to place him in the car seat when he does not want to get in

And I have recently started to get notes from teachers in the day care saying that he is has moments where he will not play nice and start to hit and pull the hair of other children. So to me this is like my FEAR coming true- My child is not behaving good at school and as a teacher and a parent that is NOT OK.
So in the next blog I will begin SF on this topic to clear out the origin of my reaction and look into supportive ways of approaching my son and my students at work.

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