Tag Archives: saying no

Anger revisited

Summer fun - aircon required

I have received another book by John Holt, Teach Your Own. It is a wonderfully refreshing look at children and how they can fit into our lives. He makes many points that I can identify with in how we communicate with children. One in particular were his comments on saying no.

I have been struggling with this. There are times that I have to say no. DS sometimes wants to do things that he can’t or that I would prefer he doesn’t do (like cut his own mango, draw on the floor with wax crayons, or empty the bath onto the bathroom floor cup by cup). I have found that when he is doing something that makes a whole lot of extra work for me, I get really irritated and manage to grit my teeth and keep my voice down while I say No, and Please don’t do that. But boy, am I irritated and having to work hard to control my urge to shout. Sometimes I do shout, and then feel awful. Like when DS put his glass of ‘cold coffee’ (coffee substitute with ice cubes) right on the edge of the table and it fell and spilt all over the floor. I have been repeatedly reminding DS that he needs to put his glass/cup *on* the table, not on the *edge* of the table.

Anyway, in these details, I have been aware of my experience being one where I resent my child for making a mess, and on some level blame him, as if he could have avoided it. I expect him to be able to predict the consequences of his actions with more accuracy than he can. And this attitude is not making for a happy home.

I have been working on reminding myself that he is still learning, and he is not deliberately trying to annoy me. It is my job to support him in his learning, not scare him into behaving how I need him to behave.

So, by moving away from the idea that he is deliberately annoying me, I have decided to see it as a learning opportunity. I can still say no, without shouting or feeling intense anger. He can understand the word no, without it being muttered, forced out through pursed lips or shouted. It is perfectly possible to say no in a supportive way. And it works. (So far)

I have had a rather intense way of ‘testing’ this theory. I have had to cut down on breastfeeding as it is physically unbelievably uncomfortable. I was feeling so guilty, that I would often tell DS in a very firm (but angry as I felt so guilty) way that it was enough now. He would react with crying and being really upset. As soon as I said that num nums are resting now (without feeling guilty, without resenting him for making demands on me that I cannot meet), and was still there to rub his back, snuggle etc he is much more accepting of this change. He doesn’t always like it, and DH is very much involved in supporting DS at the times where he is frustrated and angry and does not accept that the num nums are resting. However, for the most part, a key to us getting through this time, is me staying centered and not ‘loosing it’ inside as I rant in my head about how I just can’t do this anymore.

Having said all of this, I do not think it is necessary to never be angry. And I do not think it is dangerous for my child to see me get angry and then also get over it and life continues. I just do not want it to be every day that my son sees me getting angry or working really hard not to be angry.

I will no doubt post more on this, but anger isĀ  a BIG deal for me. Coming from a home where anger was not expressed, (I have seen my father angry maybe 5-10 times in my life) or it exploded, I have had to find my own way of understanding what it means in my life, as it does not work for me to pretend I am not angry when I am. It just makes it worse.

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Being Heard

How important and essential is this experience to each and every human being. To be heard, to be understood and to be ackowledged as a worthwhile person.

Perhaps because this is missing from such large areas of my life I spend that extra time thinking about it. And how essential it is. And how the ‘not being heard/acknowedged’ is so central to conflict and suffering.

When I think of my DS and my hopes for his future, I sincerely hope that he has a foundation of being heard and acknowledged for the beautiful sides and for the uglier sides of life. I think this perhaps has some thing to do with how I am choosing to parent my family. To create a foundation of acceptance and listening.

This would fit in with Attachment Parenting philosophy – creating an intense attachment between parent and child and meeting the child’s needs as completely as is possible. I feel this was not really allowed in the way I was brought up. In the community where I was raised it was independence and creativity and idealism that were valued. Meeting a child’s emotional needs was unnecessary and got in the way of the important work of being individuals with vision… or something that was not meeting my needs.

I thought that I would bring my family up with similar values. I after all turned out pretty much OK (social anxiety and not trusting groups aside). In todays world parents are messing their kids up by not feeling like they can say ‘no’ and kids need boundaries. I thought children could only blossom with boundaries from day one. It was essential to not be manipulated by your child. (I cannot believe I actually thought like that). Of course I wanted to have organic food and use environmentally friendly cleaning products and do lots of funky stuff. But I never thought twice about the emotional reality I wanted to create for my children. Until I held my son in my arms.

From the first night where he cried and was not soothed by my lullaby as I rocked his cosleeper and only wanted my breast – I undertook a profound journey that took me very far away from what I thought I knew. It just is not like my parents thought it was – or the nurse or the doctor or the IL’s. My son was telling me he needed me and as a responsible caring adult I could not ignore that.

When my son cries, I listen. I want him to know that his cry is important. Not because I read it somewhere and not because someone told me. But because that is what feels right and for now it is working.

Being a mother has ‘forced’ me to tune into my intuition and act on what my gut is telling me – not what I am reading or hearing. Although hearing things and reading things still can freak me out – I am still new at this. I hope it will get easier.

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