How I’m Failing At Parenting My Toddler

I’m just going to come right out and admit this. I’ve spanked my son. More than once.

And I don’t like it.

I’m not saying this to condone or judge or anything else. I’m just saying I’ve come to the point several times (not daily, not even weekly, but a handful of times) where I’ve run out of options, out of sanity, out of patience… and I’ve spanked, hoping that it would be the thing to finally snap him out of it, to finally get him to behave, to listen, to calm down.

But it’s never worked. It’s never done that thing I want it to do.

Instead, to be entirely honest, all it does is confuse us both. Kendall looks at me and will say things like, “Hey mommy! Why’d you do that? I need my boo-boo bunny (the little rag bunny wrapped around an ice cube that we give him when he gets hurt).” And then I just feel terrible and have no idea where to go from there because we’re big on not giving other people “owies” in this house, and I have no idea how to follow up at that point other than to just apologize, talk to him about why I got mad and why he’s in trouble and move on. And then? He usually does the same damn thing an hour later. Clearly not working.

I stayed up until 1 last night, sacrificing precious sleep that I so desperately need this week, reading 1-2-3 Magic on my Iphone in bed. I HAVE to figure out how to more effectively deal with Kendall. I feel like I spend my days and nights yelling half the time, frustrated most of the time, and not able to cherish our relationship. This book came recommended by a few readers and a few Facebook friends, so I figured I’d put it in the Kindle app for my phone and read it while up late at night with Leyna.

It was like a punch in the gut last night when I read the following:

Ninety-nine percent of the time that parents scream, hit and spank their children, the parent is simply having a temper tantrum. The tantrum is a sign that (1) the parent doesn’t know what to do, (2) the parent is so frustrated that he or she can’t see straight, and (3) this adult has an anger management problem.

That’s exactly what’s happening. I’m tantruming right along with my tantruming toddler. I’m exasperated, have no idea what to do, and am having a hard time controlling my emotions.

How am I supposed to ask my two year old to behave calmly and politely when I can’t even manage to do the same?

And it’s not even entirely about the spanking because, like I said, that’s not a super common occurrence. No, it’s not something I’m proud of or something I want to continue, but I have much more control over the spanking. I can stop it. I make a very conscious decision to do it before I do.

It’s the yelling. The yelling has to stop.

Too often, my frustration escalates to yelling, and THAT is much, much harder for me to control. And, personally, I feel like it’s damaging. I can see it in the way Kendall expresses his frustration. He yells and screams as a way to get his point across just like we do.

It’s all a vicious cycle of yelling and screaming around here. He does something he shouldn’t, we tell him no, he gets frustrated and yells, we get frustrated and yell, he screams, we scream, and on and on until it’s level 10 chaos.

By the time I get him to calm down, I barely have enough time to calm myself down before he starts up again. It feels like I’m in a constant state of annoyance, perpetually frazzled because of this, so subsequent tantrums set me off even faster, and by the end of the day, I’m just… done. I have not an ounce of patience in me. The “witching hours” before bedtime I probably throw just as many tantrums as he does.

I hate putting him to bed at night and thinking all I did was yell at him that day (and he at me). I also hate the sense of relief I so desperately look forward to when I close his door behind me at night. I hate that we so badly need a break from each other at the end of the day.

I’m only a few chapters into the book, but I’ve already started some of the techniques it talks about. The hardest for me, I know, is going to be the “no emotion” rule. I’m a very emotional person. Anyone who knows my husband and I well knows we’re a loud couple. We’re loud when we’re happy and we’re loud when we’re mad. We yell when we argue, but it’s never hurt us. It works for us, as a couple, to get our frustrations out and move on.

However, dealing with our child should be a completely different approach, and I know we both need to work on that. So, starting today, I’m doing everything I can to stop throwing tantrums. I shouldn’t have to wait for bedtime every night so that I can finally find time to calm down.

How are you handling tantrums or how have you handled them?

Kendall is 2 years 9 months and Leyna is 6 weeks old