Friday, March 18, 2011

How Do I break the cycle?

How do you break the cycle once they're older?  Being a gentle parent is so easy, when they're babies and toddlers!   As Babies all you have to do is make decisions on their behalf that lead to a peaceful healthy environment where they can thrive. As a toddler you make sure they don't hurt themselves as they experience their new found mobility and independence while still keeping a loving nurturing environment.. if they have a tantrum  you know it is typical of their age, that they are just frustrated and their bodies, minds and voices don't yet act in conjunction with one another. They're not trying to hurt your feelings and they don't know how to manipulate you.. they know  cause and effect but  it is easy to throw curb balls at them and steer them in a different direction.  It's a challenge but it is a piece of cake compared to what comes next..

and perhaps this is a piece of cake compared to what comes after this.. but this is my reality at the moment.

How can I be a gentle parent to a 5 yr old who has clear thoughts, likes and dislikes, strong feelings, and wit, not to mention an element of drama.

Behold subject in case 5 yr old.

She is loving, funny, caring, artistic, intelligent, curious, witty, <--really I could go on and on after all she's my daughter which parent doesn't find great qualities in her kiddo :)

And with that comes, dramatic, neurotic, OCD, PERSNICKETY! (describes her to a t!) did I mention dramatic? And boy can she hurt my feelings ...

Today for example while walking  to drop of my daytime kid at his bus stop I was making conversation with her..

Me:  How do you want me to fix your hair today?
DD#1:  .....
Me: Hey! How do you want me to fix your hair today, braids, pony tail, side pony tail?
DD#1: ...
Me: Why wont you answer me?
DD#1: Because I don't feel like talking to you..
Me: Why?..Are you mad at me?
DD#1: (returns to being silent)
Me: Ok.. if you're upset let me know why... I don't think I made you upset today..
DD#1: Be quiet! I just don't want to talk to you!

Part of me... got really sad and hurt and part of me got VERY enraged!  I yelled.. I yelled mean things.. (and now I'm crying)  I told her back in my days I would have gotten a smack in the face for talking to my mother like that and that she should appreciate that I don't do that.. I asked why she was being a brat.. I told her if she wanted to be a brat she could look for  a new family... (WHOA WHERE DID ALL THAT COME FROM!)  The words just flowed.. from a dark place in me.. it is not the first time either..  I am trying to be gentle I have been all of her  5 years up until recently... when she started being defiant, mean, hurtful.

It is difficult to pause and analyze the situation when the ones throwing curve balls are them!

There are many things wrong with that I did I know that first of all telling her she was lucky I didn't smack her.. why do I need acknowledgement? She shouldn't even know that smacking your kids is an option for anyone..because it shouldn't be..  I said mean hurtful things.

I apologized when she started crying because I was being mean... I reminded myself of my father.. mentally abusive.. bringing us down, humiliating us and hurting our self esteem only to apologize later and try to buy our affection back with food. (another blog)  Things are not as severe as how he was but I see some of him in me... and I don't like it.

How can I stop myself from the urge to yell, to hurt back?
How can I stop from seeing her as defiant and someone who needs to obey?

I know she has a mind of her own.. and I want her to be respectful..  but I need to teach respect with respect.

I have read many blogs and articles about peaceful parenting but most come from people with children under 3 or 4..  all I can say is piece of cake! I want to know what happens at 5-9-11-13--16! 

How do I save my children from this cycle I come from?

How do I breathe and teach them to be gentle themselves?

Don't get me wrong there is more good than bad... but sometimes.. it just gets out of control..
Any Suggestions from moms with older children?

Very Sincerely
A very sad confused momma...

Back when everything was less complicated.


  1. have to remember they are just like grown ups only without the ability to verbalize what they are thinking and even that, some adults haven't mastered. My guess is she just didn't feel like talking and it had nothing to do with you. But as parents we feel like everything our kids say do and feel is about us. And we have this need to be the most important thing in their lives cause they are in ours. Its good that you apologized reminder her you are only human and you too make mistakes. next time when she isn't doing what you want try to put yourself in her place and think about what you would want from your mommy at that moment. Maybe that will help.

  2. You're right.. It probably had nothing to do with me.. I want to learn to be objective at the very moment instead of letting my horrible thoughts/impulses take over.. It's a work in progress.. :(

  3. This book has helped me enormously in getting over a traumatic childhood:

    Hope it helps :)

  4. I have a 12 yr old and have been through this...still am. What I think we must ask ourselves is why when she said, "Because I don't feel like talking to you.." we continue with a defensive line of questioning. "Why?..Are you mad at me?" I'm sure she is picking up on the insecurity. Five year olds, unlike babies, can manipulate. They pick it up pretty fast too. Does she see you give the silent treatment to people when you are mad? Did you recently "ignore" her by not feeling like talking or answering a tidal wave of 5 yr old questions while you were on the phone or working? She's trying the behavior out and it seems to be having an effect that triggers you. My advice is to be aware that her silent treatment triggers your anger/frustration and be prepared with a response for next time. Maybe something like,"I don't like the way I feel when I'm being ignored and I know you don't like that feeling either." Period. Say no more. Make sure you use "the way 'I' feel" NOT, the way 'you' make me feel" She is not in control of your feelings, you are. Then, respect her right not to conversate just as you would expect your right to be respected. Say it in a calm, confident tone. Don't whine or try to exhume pity from her, just relate your feeling and attach a reminder that you know she understands that feeling.

  5. Funny thing Is I don't give the silent treatment to anyone when mad I'm about communicating.. and I answer her plethora of questions always as I grew up being shrugged off for being a kid.. and I didn't want to do the same with her.. So I know it's not mimicing us... I guess maybe she had stuff on her mind..

  6. For starters, the fact that you are aware of the cycle and making an effort to break it is huge! Dont underestimate the power that has. Scarlett went through a phase where I was a mean mom. All the time. Anytime I did anything she didnt like, I was mean, horrible... I didnt know such a tiny little thing could hurt my feelings like that. I didn't always handle the best way, but I tried to just stay calm and tell her that her words were really hurtful and I wished she would find another way to communicate with me. But it did really hurt. =(

  7. I'm reading the book, "Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves" by Naomi Aldort. She does a great job of explaining the steps we as parents can take to stop the cycle.

  8. I get like that with my son sometimes. He is 12 years old now, and I have vowed to myself to not yell at him anymore. I have raised my voice, but not like in the past where I would freak out on him, then feel really bad once he started crying...:(
    I still have a lot of parent guilt over things I have said to him. I guess knowing there is a problem, is the first step in stopping the behavior. Just remember that she is just a kid, and doesnt deserve to be yelled at. It "breaks their spirit", and that is something that will stay with them for a long time.
    I dont have a perfect answer, but I will say that just the acknowledgement of the problem, is a wonderful thing. My son never went through the "terrible two's"..but I would say 3-6 was the worst and most challenging time for us. I was also a single parent, and stress was a huge factor in the way I treated him. I am better now, and like you said, MOST of the time things are really good, but when I felt disrespected or he just wouldnt do what I wanted him to, my blood would boil, and I would go off!
    Let your daughter know that you are not perfect, and that you are working on learning how to be a better parent. Let her know you love her and it is not her fault when you act this way. There is no manual to this oh so important job in life..unfortunately... good luck, mama!!

  9. This is a powerful post. I'm in the midst of writing about this also. Like you, I'm working on breaking the cycle and I'm often shocked at the intensity of emotions that come up. The previous commenters are great. I also go to my books and blogs for help. It's not second nature to me, although it feels natural when I get it right, so I feel like I need to constantly reinforce the gentle discipline message.

  10. I completely understand where you are coming from. It seemed from the moment my first child was born people would say "oh, you think parenting is great now, just wait until they can talk back to you!" That always made me soooo freaking mad. I would think to myself "Not my daughter, not my family!" And for the most part they were wrong, we still have way more good days than bad (my oldest is now 14) but I think I now understand more of were they were coming from. It hurts to have someone be verbally mean to you, even if it is (or maybe especially because?)your own kid. The important thing to remember is that all people that live together are going to get under each others skin every once in a while and if we are allowed to feel that way so should our kids.
    You have had some great book recommendations, hope they help you and hang in there. {{big squeeze hug}}



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