Loving my children
Updated: May 24, 2021
Do you have kids that hear the exact opposite of what you say?
You say, 'Come here ' and they run away.
You say, 'Don't do it ' and they do it.
Well, I used to sail in the same boat.
When I look back at the end of the day, most of my time would have gone cleaning up their mess, getting them to the bathroom to bathe or brush their teeth, getting them to the dining table, getting over the tantrums, and settling them into bed.
I read, watched, and listened to a lot of parenting classes to know how to control my children, get them to do what I want them to do, easily and fast. Well, the first lesson, 'I can't control anyone, even my children. I can only control myself and influence others.'
Strategies that might work for some, might not work for others in parenting. Each child is different and unique. It is all a process of trial and error.
Now, here are a few things I did, saw positive results, and kept doing.
Asking them 'What name would you like to be called so that you would listen to me, do as I say, or come to me?' My big one likes being called 'Swath' and my little one 'Kunj'. When I call them by that name and tell them to stop doing something or come to me, they follow. Sometimes if they hesitate, I tell them, 'Have you not promised me that you would listen when I call you by that name?'
If I want to get them somewhere, I say 'I will close my eyes and count till ten. Let me see if you can get there before 10.'
At the end of the day, I seat one of them on my lap, cuddle them, say how much I love them, appreciate them for all the good things they did and then ask what they think about something wrong they did, like getting into a fight, telling lies, etc. We would talk about what would happen if they keep on doing it, what made them do it and what would they do next time in the same scenario.
Changing the speed, volume, and tone of how I talk to them, especially when I am angry. At first, a few deep breaths. Then, if I am loud, I might say the words out slowly, low pitch and then add a dear, darling, or sweety at the end. I explain the reason why I am angry and how it might have hurt them or others. 'I love you, but I didn't like what you did, I trust you not to repeat it'. Sometimes, after they do something wrong, they come up to me and ask me 'Do you not like me?' even before I say anything. I say, 'I can't not like you. I will always love you, you are my child. But do you think what you did was right?'
When both get into a fight, I don't favor one of them. I demand an explanation from both and talk sternly. Instead of telling, 'Say sorry', I ask them, 'what do you think both of you should do now?'
Directing them to what to do after telling them what not to do. Eg.' Don't say you want your sister's portion too. Instead, you will feel happier if you say thank you for what you have got.'
Asking them, 'Would you like them if someone did the same to you? Do not do anything to others that you too don't like to receive. Do you want to be the loving (their name) or the harming (their name)?'. Thus letting them know of the value they impart on to others.
Talking with them when they are sad or grumpy instead of ignoring them. But if they try to put up a tantrum, I walk away. I say, 'I can only understand when you talk in a clear, low and soft voice.'
Rules are rules and can't be bent or I won't change my decision on certain things, even if they cry and put up a tantrum. Eg. Screen time.
When they offer to help, I allow them even when I know it would turn out messy. Then I appreciate them for their kind heart instead of pointing out the mistakes. I suggest what can be done differently.
Saying out loud that I did something because I love them. I also tell them how I used to feel when I was pregnant with them, the early years, how much I enjoyed and the happiness they had given me.
I encourage them to do things that they can on their own.
I never force them to eat their food. 'Have it when you are hungry.'
Telling them bedtime stories. I pick up something I want to change in them, create a story with an animal they choose as the protagonist, and create a story around how I want them to behave in a certain scenario.
For example, I want them to come and tell me when they do something wrong.
So the story goes, once there was a little elephant. Little elephant liked to play. She was loved by her parents. She was good and kind.
Mommy elephant had a beautiful precious stone that was valuable to her. One day, the little elephant saw the stone and was amazed by its beauty. She told herself, 'This is so beautiful. I have never seen anything so shiny. I have got to show this to my friends. I will take it and return it quickly, even before Mommy notices it's gone.' The little elephant took the stone. She was so excited to show it to her friends. So, she started walking through the forest. She had to cross a river to get to her friends. But while she was crossing it, the stone fell into the water. She tried to grab it, but she couldn't. The stone was lost. Little Elephant was frightened and nervous, 'What will I tell Mommy? What if I don't tell her?' Little Elephant went home. Little Elephant began feeling heavy in her heart. She couldn't keep it from Mommy. Mommy would be sad if she can't find the stone. The little elephant went next to Mommy and said,' Mommy, I am sorry, I just wanted to show how shiny your precious stone was to my friends but I lost it in the river on the way. I am sorry. I didn't mean to. I know you like that stone.' At first, Mommy became angry. Her expressions changed. She didn't say anything. Little Elephant walked away from Mommy, sat down, and cried. Mommy elephant came to her, hugged her, and said,' It's alright, dear. Mistakes do happen. I appreciate you for being a courageous girl, coming up to me, and opening up your mistake. I can see you regret doing it. Mommy loves you more than that stone. Promise Mommy that you would never take anything before asking for Mommy's permission.' Little Elephant promised it and she kept that promise forever. After that, she always asked for Mommy's permission if she wanted to take anything that belonged to Mommy.
Phew, that was long.
And lastly and most importantly, lots of love, hugs, kisses, and appreciation even for the little things they do. I tell myself love and care are my top values. This has reduced my stress, helped me manage my anger, and communicate softly. Respecting them and talking to them like I do to a friend. Making myself available when they want to show me their love and accepting it. Playing with them and creating lots of positive memories. Starting the day and ending the day with smiles.
Sometimes, I do make mistakes. But I tell them I am sorry, for not holding myself together. We are in this together as a family. I hope all parents reading this have a happy, respectful and loving relationship with their children.