Understanding Laura

I am a crunchy oddball with too many ideas and too little time. Do you get me now?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Attitude Reflects Leadership

Kellie has been having a rough week. It's like she went ape crazy with screaming, kicking, rolling tantrums that lasted from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

Yesterday, when the day BEGAN in a tantrum, I kept my cool instead of losing it. About three minutes before her tantrum ended, I said, "I don't understand your screaming. I think I'll just go start my day now." I poured myself a bowl of cereal and prayed for Kellie to remember how much her Mommy loves to hear her sweet words. Thirty seconds later, as I'm munching on my Honey Bunches, Kellie says, "I'm all done screaming. I'm ready to eat now." I happily got her a bowl of cereal. She asked if we could say another prayer over her breakfast - which we did. In that prayer I said, "Thank you for helping Kellie find her sweet voice and sweet words." We didn't have another tantrum all day. As she was replaying the tantrum back to me (something she and I do, we call it "talking it out") She said, "And MaMa said, 'I can't understand your screams.'" Which made me feel like a successful parent. Because recently I've been losing my cool after 45 minutes of screaming and rolling and irrational freaking and I hear her playback my response, "Stop screaming! I'm so mad! Your screaming makes me mad!" or "MaMa said, "Get back in your bed!'" Some of my less-stellar parenting moves...

Since my breakfast prayer, I've had a change of attitude. With that attitude change, the tantrums have reduced to once or twice a day, lasting less than three minutes. Easily diffused by comments that make me feel proud, even when parroted back in a two year old's sing-songy voice:

"Mommy doesn't understand screams. I'll listen when I hear words."
"Oh boy, you sound upset. Let me know when you're ready to talk about it."
"What a bummer - it looks like you aren't ready to go outside and play."
"It's quiet time, you don't have to sleep, but you do need to lie still and let your body rest quietly."

All of these phrases are part of our normal tantrum-diffusing vocabulary. But in my pregnancy-induced fussiness, I'd lost my touch. I'd gotten so used to my easy-to-handle toddler that I wasn't maintaining all the hard work we've poured into her by reinforcing our method of parenting.

Two days in and we're on the right track. I just hope my postpartum self can remember how to be the parent that Kellie needs. It sure breaks my heart to hear my harsh words and tone played back in my sweet daughter's voice.


  • At 5:27 AM, Anonymous auntie em said…

    I'm impressed at the patience you have! Even if sometimes you feel like you lose it, I think that's pretty normal! I'd say a 45 minute tantrum justifies any "not so stellar" mommy behavior! :)

  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger Grandma Ruthie said…

    Ahh! You're such a good MaMa!

    Nothing like a child's perspective to help us become more grounded and get back on track.

    We were just talking about this very subject... Adult vs Child perspectives last night with our home teachers, in fact.

    What's that quote Grandma Bagley has... something about when your day comes unraveled, knit together with prayer!

    Love you!

    See you soon! Woohoo!

  • At 10:45 PM, Blogger La Chili said…

    That's sound great, I do have some not stellar times as a mother and some better when I manage to not to get angry and listen an talk softly.

  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Emily said…

    I've been reading my LandL book and thinking about how I am going to start being more diligent on this method. Reading your post helped me to realize how effective it is and how much more pleasant!! Thanks for sharing your day!


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