As a mother we are molding a life form into an individual daily. Our little one looks up to us for reactions and explanations about everything he encounters. Be it how to deal with being pushed in the park or to understand how he came into this world- he rushes to us for explanation.
It’s such a joy to be part of somebody’s life journey so closely. You sometimes hold his hand, sometimes lift him on your shoulder and sometimes let him run free on the path called life.
But as a mother we also know that not all days are bright and sunny. There are the gloomy clouds of crying, screaming, stubbornness and what not!
How do you deal with this “negative” behaviour that your angel sometimes exhibits. What do you do when your Dr Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde?
Of course there are numerous ways of rewarding good behaviour and not punishing bad behaviour that can help you slowly curb the bad traits in your young one. But I would like to start even before that.
“Why label any emotion as good or bad?”
Try to erase all the social conditioning in you and think from a blank blueprint. Why is crying bad? Why is not crying good? Why is screaming bad? Why is keeping quiet good?
Who told you so? And why is it so important?
When you ask yourself these questions from a child’s point of view (ie with a blank blueprint of a mind) you will realize that there is actually no monster in your baby.
A child cries when frustrated, angry or sad. An elder sister feels jealous when she feels threatened by a new born sibling. A toddler screams in a restaurant when he is denied ice cream as his main course dinner.
We also feel the same emotions under these similar circumstances. It’s just that we, as a society, have been trained to control these negative emotions. If there were no rules of social conduct been ingrained in my mind, I would also love to scream when not heard! Wouldn’t you too?
So here is a child who doesn’t know what societal rules are. And his mom is shunning him for screaming in a restaurant. He doesn’t even understand why he shouldn’t scream! Society doesn’t mean much to him right now. And I suggest you don’t drill the point so soon either.
Yes there are certain etiquettes which all children have to learn at some age. However being a gypsy at heart, I advocate delaying the process as much as possible.
The best way to deal with negative behaviour is not to label it as bad in the first place. Never tell your toddler that whatever she is feeling is “wrong”. Because its not. She is feeling something genuine and she is expressing it. Let her.
What I usually do when my kid feels jealous, angry, sad or overwhelmed is quite simple and effective. I call it “The 3 step key to your kid’s heart”
Step 1: State that you know what your child is feeling.
Eg, if your baby is crying because she feels jealous of you lifting your new born baby say it out loud and clear to her, “I know you are feeling bad that I lifted the baby in my arms.”
By spelling it out for her, you have got your toddler in your zone of trust and belief in one shot.
Step 2: Tell her that you understand why she is feeling so. And that she is not wrong to feel that way.
“I understand that having the new baby around is making you feel that mommy is not spending enough time with you. And I agree that it is enough to make you unhappy.”
She now is happy that you know what she is feeling. She likes you instantly and wants to listen to what you have to say next! (She wishes that your next sentence is that I will dunk the baby into a dustbin and play with you only! But if you play out the next steps properly, you will soon have her agreeing to your solution!)
Step 3: Tell her why the situation is such and come up with a solution that involves her in a major role.
“I have to be with your baby sister because she is so tiny that she cant walk or talk on her own like you can. But I have an idea! Let her learn from her big sister about everything! So next time I am feeding her, why don’t you sit with me and tell her a story to calm her down. When I am changing her diaper, why don’t you help me with choosing which diaper to put on her next. And next time she is crying, you should come and tell me. You are the commander-in-chief now!”
Yes, this technique takes longer than saying, “No don’t cry. Its wrong to cry!” and shut your baby up.
But it has longer lessons and impressions engraved in it. And that’s why its such a powerful tool.
Shunning your baby takes 10 minutes but it means that every day for the next few years you will be spending those 10 frustrated minutes while getting no results actually.
Toiling a few extra days on your kid when he is a toddler will pave your path for a much more hands-free mothering for the rest of your life- that’s Nirvanama 101.
Now the choice is clear. You just need to make it!