Thursday, February 16, 2012

Parental Restraint

I've gotten better at dealing with younger kid problems.  Tantrums?  Ignore them.  Before/after dinner crazies? Mostly ignore them.  Not eating their food?  Ignore it and not let them have anything else.  But when it comes to these older kid problems, I'm still a newbie.  And what's my biggest downfall as a parent?  Arguing with your kid.  Yes, I'm admitting it.  When it comes to a raging, angry, upset, or frustrated kid who is arguing with you, I have a very hard time not arguing with them.

Maybe it's because now that they're older and can form more coherent statements that it baits me.  Arguing with a 3 year old about why she can't get out of time out isn't nearly as engaging as arguing with an 8 year old who doesn't want to do a chore.  And maybe it's because the older kids are at the ages now that when you say things to them in conversation they actually are able to absorb some of it and you hope that in your stellar arguments that you are making that you might win the argument and they'll hush up and move on.  Um, no.

The problem is that kids argue like kids and they won't back down because essentially what I'm doing when I argue with them in a moment of their high emotions is just fanning the flames of a more mature tantrum.  Yes they are arguing with me but it's not a coherent, adult argument/disagreement.  Add that to the fact that I don't like backing down either and you've got a real problem.  We've had some fairly intense older kid "tantruments" lately - that's what I'm calling them - I should trademark it.

At least now I recognize it so maybe I'm on the path to recovery.  Just like I am able to ignore Piper's tantrums, I need to just breath and ignore the barbs and angry statements from the older kids in the midst of one of their tantruments.  Last weekend when Caroline was in the midst of a real humdinger, after trying to "reason" with her and having her get more upset, I finally took her to her room where she yelled a bit and then calmed down.  I just need to remind myself that I am not going to get through to them by arguing and that they just need to cool off like they did when they were kids and then we can talk about what happened.

It's weird feeling like a complete amateur sometimes but I guess because kids continue to grow and change that will be something I just need to get used to.  I'm hoping I will get better at this because we all know that the teenage years are getting closer and teenagers are even better at arguing - I just need to set the precedent now that I won't engage them.

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