Tag Archives: temper

Disciplining Children

I had an interesting conversation on twitter on the weekend.  It was about discipline.

It started with a few tweets about the banning of THE BOOK. I won’t go into it here, but you can find out about it by visiting http://adadcalled.spen.wordpress.com .  It’s not a very nice book. It’s been about for quite a while, but not promoted, so when someone who actually gave a shit about the way children are treated saw it and read a few pages they quite rightly stepped up to the plate and started a campaign to have it removed from circulation.  Anyway, it’s all about corporal punishment for children.  As young as 4 months old.

It was nice watching us all come together on twitter.  A common ground, a group of parents that are probably old enough to remember when punishment of this kind was common practice.  Some of us were smacked (a lot) by our parents (I was even caned at school), but perhaps some remember stories their parents told of the way they were treated.  Nowadays, we know that systematic physical punishment of this kind isn’t good.  We know that even the occasional physical punishment isn’t great, but it does happen. 

I have never smacked my children, but I have come very very close.  I was raised in a smacking household.  My parents were quite a lot stricter than other parents and my mum lost her temper quite a bit (I’m afraid I do too).  When I was older I always remembered the look my mum gave when she was in a bad mood and how scary it was and I always thought, why didn’t she just do that? Why didn’t she raise her voice, tell me how disappointed she was with me.  It would have done the same thing.  She didn’t need to wallop me over the head.

Pickle was a challenging baby, but a delightful toddler. She was nearly 2 when she did something I had asked her 2 previous times not to do. She was only 2, she had probably forgotten I’d said it, but I was stressed about something else at the time and tired of repeating myself (oh, how I could have seem my life 3 years hence…it’s a daily ritual), and I rushed over to her with one raised hand ready to give a short sharp smack to the bottom.  She was watching television at the time, so to my absolute relief, she has no idea I nearly smacked her.  I literally had to force myself NOT to smack her.  So ingrained was that reaction.  My husband saw it, with horror.  We calmed down and talked about it. There’s been a few occasions since where I was tired, my brain wasn’t working, I couldn’t quickly come up with a solution to resolve the issue and my first thought was a smack.  Just a thought. The reminder of that near miss all that time ago, stops me.  I walk away, grab a few minutes to find a different solution.

I did “tap” my son’s leg once, whilst he was on a changing mat, whilst he was kicking me ferociously and ignoring my request to stop. I couldn’t leave him on it and he was too heavy to lift off and back on again.  The tap says it all really. It was a half-hearted reaction.  I know I’m not that kind of mother, or I don’t want to be.

So, what is that kind of mother.  Well, it’s the kind of mother that makes mistakes. That was raised in a household where smacking was the norm, who may have made her mind up early on in motherhood that she wouldn’t treat her children the way she was treated, but often finds herself in situations where she falls to the default.  This is especially noticeable if a child has been about to do something life threatening, like running on to a road. A friend of mine who is French, has smacked both her sons on separate occasions.  I wouldn’t have done it, but I wouldn’t judge her for it.  She is the product of her own convictions, her own upbringing,  she reacted in the heat of a serious moment.  She is a good mother.

I think we all want to live in a world where children are treated with respect, but who can be shaped to behave appropriately in certain situations.  I don’t want to see anyone smack anybody (least of all me) but I do need to discipline my children.  So I do.

I use the 3 and out rule.  On the last one, I usually count to 3.  That gets a response 9 out of 10 times.  If they are being very stubborn, then they get to have timeout on the step.  Both of them spent a fair bit of time between 2-3 yrs on the step. Pickle rarely goes  on it (maybe once in the last year) and The Monster used to be on it daily or several times a day, but we can go almost a week nowadays without using it.  He’s about to turn 3. That’s a success for me. 

I know that’s probably not far enough for some mothers.  They are confident in their beliefs that children do not need discipline.  That they will find their way in the world through guidance. I applaud you, I am intrigued (and will read up about it) and I hope that your way will produce well-rounded good citizens and if so, that your way will be “the way” in the next generation, but I can’t do that. 

Perhaps you have done a lot of research, met mother’s who have done it. Perhaps you are a 3rd generation of not experiencing physical punishment, the leapt isn’t so far for you.  The leap is too far for me.  When my son is walloping my daughter over the head with a wooden hammer, I have to do something, my daughter would be confused.  When my son is pushing someone elses son off the steps of the slide, I have to make a “thing” of it. It’s not fair on the other children or their parents. I can’t overcome that.  I have to find a way to tell my son that he shouldn’t be doing that.  I have few resources at my finger tips at that moment.

We all do what we can within the parameters of our personalities, genes and upbringings.  That’s all we can do. Strive to be better parents than the ones before and slowly find the right balance to raise good, resilient and respectful adults of the future.



Temper Temper

I think I’ve got a terrible temper. I have had a terrible morning.  It was all going so swimmingly as well.  Hubby headed off last night to stay overnight for a job today, so I was ultra-organised doing some of the packed lunch, filling up drink bottles, preparing nursery bags, leaving everything by the front door.

 This morning I was calm and collected. I didn’t rush anyone, get annoyed.  The children were well behaved, ate in a timely fashion and didn’t fight me at any point whilst I dressed them. Even The Monster who hates wearing his big coat, didn’t have a fuss.  We were just heading out the door and I suddenly thought I’d check for my work pass card.  Not in my bag.

 I often give my pass card to The Monster at the end of the day, but find it at some point about an hour later and tuck it into my bag. It contains my pass to get in and out of the floors at my work and has the key that opens my pedestal under my desk where my laptop is.  I WENT MENTAL!

 I stormed about the house, repeatedly saying “where is it? Where can it be? Who’s hidden it? Where have you put it?” like a demented creature.  I made wild statements about what it meant “Great, so I won’t be able to work today, brilliant” “I’m never going to let you play with my pass card AGAIN” “I try to be nice and let you have it, but I guess I’ll have to be a bad mummy in future”.  Thankfully THANKFULLY I never accused either child directly (which I have done in the past for things that weren’t their fault) and I also didn’t shout directly at them.  However, I was shouting at one stage and I know it affects them, because they get quiet and don’t attempt to say anything for fear of having their head bitten off.

 Eventually I gave up on looking for the card and got everyone out the door to load into the car.  The tiniest error and I was growling at them.  Both of them have been much worse at dilly dallying, or not doing as I say, but they were very good and I still found fault.  Getting annoyed at TM for not putting his arm through the strap (FFS!) and dropping his toy dog on the footpath.  I’m such a bad mother!  I then got annoyed at Pickle for going to get in the front seat (“What are you doing?? Get in the back”).  So she got in the back at which point I realised her booster seat was in the front. I’m such a bad mother!

 So we got in the car and headed off to nursery. By this stage I had seen the error of my ways and began the BIG APOLOGY.  My mum was a ranter and I was always frightened of her, but she NEVER apologised.  She would accuse us of things and then find it again and NEVER apologise.  I really hated her for that.  I can’t watch movies anymore that have a storyline where someone gets the blame for something they didn’t do (that’s a lot of movies) because that feeling of things being unfair runs too deep.  I once got accused of stealing money from her (I was never that sort of child), she found it an hour later and never apologised.

 Anyway, so I started to apologise.  When we got to nursery I got annoyed at another mum who followed me in and stole my space as I was backing into it. Thankfully THANKFULLY I didn’t make eye contact or wave my arms about, so I may have got away with her not noticing.  Nursery then annoyed me but announcing that the Christmas show started at 3pm.  Pickle doesn’t finish school until 3.05pm.  It would be 3.30pm until we arrive. Nursery manager suggests taking her out of school.  How ridiculous.  I have asked at school but I’m not pushing it.

 Dropped Pickle off at school and headed into work, only to be on the receiving end of a white van man who decided I hadn’t got onto the roundabout quickly enough.  I’m usually very judgemental of the way people use roundabouts, but I was anticipating a bus and then when he started beeping I got confused and was looking around to find out what the issue was. It turned out to be me.  I was so angry I ranted and ranted and ranted inside my car.  Then when I got to Richmond hill I slowed down to 15 miles an hour just to give him a taste of his own medicine.  I was fuming.  I did end up speeding up.

 So I’m now at work.  Feeling very annoyed at myself.  Feeling terrible for my children to have to experience a ranting mother – the one thing I desperately didn’t want to pass down from my mother, but I feel so powerless to prevent it.  The only small saving grace is that I am aware of what I am doing and have the balls to apologise…….even to a not quite 2 year old.  I’m not sure that is enough though.  How can I stop myself from getting so angry.  Counting to 10 is the LAST thing on my mind when I’m in the midst of a rant.  Do I need anger management classes?  This is not how I had envisaged myself in motherhood.

 I do it much less than I used to, but that is small comfort on a day like today.  Any advice would be gratefully received.