When children push your buttons...

Parenting is stretching me more than I realized.   I mean I thought I was patient and nice.  But interacting with my children can often turn me into a different person. Kind of scary, sarcastic and mean at times.

While some may brush that off and say that kids just do that to you, I wonder if  I can just settle for that.  Surely there must be some other way.  I don't just stop growing myself once I have kids.  No, I am being stretched and challenged in many new ways.  Internal struggles are good for me to tackle and not ignore.  I don't want to do things just because everyone else does, and I don't want to treat my children the same way just because...

My boys are very sensitive.  They have never responded well to conventional ways of handling behaviour like time outs and such.  They become angry, more upset and deeply hurt by such treatment.  I have read a bit about gentle parenting and do try.  But, I still have a long way to go.

Winter here in Canada can be long and cold.  We get cabin fever, short tempered and have extra energy to burn off.  I do struggle most during these times because my boys are not getting the outside time, exercise and space that they need (we all need).  I was reminded on the weekend how much children reflect and absorb the mood we are letting off.  When I become frustrated they get most upset, stressed and mirror my temper back to me.  I don't know why I am always surprised by this!  My husband lovingly pointed out that perhaps our son's outburst that day was more intense because I had snapped at him.

I know I am not alone here, you are probably reading this nodding with understanding.  I love my boys but they can push my buttons.  We all make mistakes and wish we could have handled things better.  So what to do?  How can I change?

TJ feeding the pumpkin dirt when he was younger
Firstly thing to do is forgive yourself.  At least you recognize that things need to change and that you want something better for your family.  Forgiving doesn't mean justifying or condoning your past actions.  But be easy on yourself.  Parenting is hard!  Here are some other ideas in random order...

Breathe.  The act of taking a deep breath during times of stress will bring more oxygen to your brain allowing you to think more clearly.  You will also take that moment to pause.  Consider what is really important here, could there be another way to handle this?  Could you say yes?  Maybe you need a longer break.  It's okay to give yourself a time-out.

Connect with something higher than yourself.  I am a Christian so for me I need to constantly be connected with God for strength, direction, forgiveness, and encouragement.  There is a wealth of parenting advice and love to be found in the scriptures.  Prayer is also a fabulous way to reflect, mediate and be refreshed.

Read and learn all you can about the direction you would like to take with your family.  Perhaps it is gentle parenting, peaceful communication, building relationships... Read blogs, books, listen to podcasts and take away whatever resonates with you.  You will not agree with everything you read but that is okay too.

Take things slow and celebrate the small steps.  Hurray I didn't yell this morning!!  Yeah to me I used a more playful tone to dress my preschooler even though we were running late!!  What ever it is try one new thing you learned about, be consistent and keep trying.

Remember what it was like to be young.  Here is where super parenting patience come in to play.  Children would rather play than clean up.  Wouldn't you?  Try to make it fun, or maybe relax your expectations a little.  Didn't you hate it when your parents nagged you even when you were trying to do the right thing?  Look at what your children are doing right and encourage them for their efforts.  Kids will be kids and it does take time and lots of reminders.

Treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Remember the golden rule.  Children are people too.  Just because they are shorter, younger and in our care doesn't mean that they don't have big feelings.  This one always hits me with a big punch after I have yelled (yup I do), then my little one is crying, scared and  broken hearted because I hurt his feelings. Our family is getting pretty good at apologies, forgiveness and mending relationships.  I do make sure I take time after things go wrong to reflect with the children, come up with a plan, apologies are made and lots of hugs are given.

Talk to someone.  It could be your spouse, partner, a friend, counsellor, even yourself!  Actually talking to yourself is great as you can coach yourself on what to do and give encouragement.  The other day I was sharing with my friend about a particularly rough morning I had with the boys.  Her response: "I'm so glad you are so honest, it makes me feel much better as a mom."  Some times we all need to vent, share and often hear another perspective.

Journaling.  I love to journal.  It is a chance for me to get out everything in my head and heart.  A diary sort of.  Some people find that prayer and taking to someone else can also do the same thing.

Take care of yourself.  Oh I know it is hard.  There is so much to do, little ones keep us up at night, etc. But my children have learned to step aside when mommy is hungry (I seriously can't cope).  I'm also really crabby when I'm tired.  knowing these things I do my best to care for myself and change up our day as needed to accommodate.

Here are a few links for you:
Orange Rino
TEACH through love
Positive Discipline
Tips for Staying Calm with Children 
Hope for the Weary Mom
Did you now there are even FB groups to help (just do a search)

Another younger TJ

Did I miss anything?  I'd love for you to leave me a comment and share your thoughts.  You can also follow us/comment on Facebook.

This post is linked to
Mommy Moments 

The Life Of Faith


  1. Thank you so much for this post! Both encouraging and practical! I agree that children often do seem to mirror our moods. If I am grumpy, they are grumpy. If I am excited or happy, they generally are, too! Great post! (Found you on The Homeschool Mother's Journal this morning.)


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