Sometimes, though, parenting challenges me, and I hate myself for failures in administering discipline and keeping calm.
Last night was an example. My daughter, Caitlin, gets more and more frustrated when things don't go her way, then does things that are rude and inconsiderate--but doesn't realize that they are rude and inconsiderate. The following sequence of events led to her melting down and screaming at the top of her lungs:
- She requested that we call my mom, so after work, we called her. We got her onto Skype.
- Caitlin wanted my mom to take the computer into the kitchen. My mom didn't feel like unhooking everything and taking the laptop into the kitchen, so she refused. It's a valid response.
- Caitlin didn't want to see my mom anymore, because the view wasn't changing to the kitchen, where she would see the microwave, the oven, and the refrigerator. She is obsessed with these appliances.
- After she asked to see "grandma's flowers" (when my mom doesn't have the camera on, it's a picture of flowers on Skype, Caitlin would not stop interrupting. She became more frustrated the more I told her to "stop" and "wait". I stopped the conversation with my mom.
- I told Caitlin she was being rude, and she smacked the laptop. I became angry and snapped at her, telling her that she is not to touch to laptop.
- She wanted me to do her "Knocking on ____, bye bye _____" game (e.g., knocking on yellow flute, bye bye striped flute), and I refused, telling her that she needed to listen to what I was saying. She became more frustrated.
- The more frustrated Caitlin became, the more violent she was. She finally slammed the laptop closed, and I lost it. I yelled at her to get into her room.
- She laid down and put the blanket on her, but she came back out of the room. I yelled more and got her back into her room. She became more agitated and belligerent. I became more irritated and frustrated, which made me more angry.
- After she throw her Spongebob Squarepants keyboard at the door, I finally went into her room, put her on her bed, and held her down like they told us to do in a class I took in Michigan. Supposedly, the child will eventually calm down. Not Caitlin! She screamed at the top of her lungs and cried.
I finally gave up and got off the bed, repeated a few things, then turned of the light and closed the door. She stayed in her room finally.
Then I started hating myself for my actions.
Yelling doesn't do a thing but make my daughter more irritated and frustrated. Refusing to do that game she does to calm her does nothing but make her more frustrated and agitated, then violent. Getting angry does nothing to resolve the issue.
So what should have I done? How do I even discipline her? Where do I go from here?
One approach would be to calm her down first, but instead of doing what she wants, take her into her room calmly and read to her, maybe with a little bit of her calming game on the way. When she is calm, explain to her what she did and how she should behave. Unfortunately, I have my doubts that she will recognize that she's done wrong and about whether or not she will understand my explanation.
Another approach, suggested by Jeanie, is to mentally prepare her for my mom's refusal to go to the kitchen. Mental preparation seems to work with her more than most things, and we prevent the incident altogether. This might work.
Still another thing I could do is print out a picture of my mom's kitchen to show her, rather than asking my mom to move into the kitchen for us.
I know for certain that I have to take an alternative approach, because what I did last night didn't work. All it caused was anger, frustration, and--for me--pain. I have injuries that the activity aggravated. We need to work on remaining calm, no matter what.