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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How Old Are You?!

I remember everything that surrounds the moment that I read that question with regards to disciplining your child. I was sitting in my bed in our house in Florida, reading a parenting magazine. Those were the days - I remember them well. Actually, they're starting to become a bit of a blur, but everything is these days! Remember? You could sit somewhere, anywhere, and it would be quiet and you could read something without falling asleep?! Ah...bliss!

Anyways, I digress. I don't remember the article name, or the magazine itself, but I do remember thinking to myself that I would always remember that question. When your child is acting up, being bad, terrorizing Target, running circles around you - you name it - you should stop and ask him/her, "how old are you? 3?!" Where I insert a 3, you may insert a 4, 1, 9, any number. But think about it...Today, Eden was stomping her foot at me and telling me no when I asked her nicely {to start with} to pick up her toys.

After a perfect morning {which was noted to her and talked about with her} I was so mad that she was going to flip the switch to demon child and start acting like...well...a 3 year old. I was appalled at the idea of the rotten behavior and I wasn't going to put up with it. I was so frustrated. I didn't stop to think my magic question {in the moment} and I was getting more and more mad. Time out wasn't working, soap in the mouth didn't work {yes, I went there!}, taking away toys didn't work, taking away her beloved duck wasn't working, shutting the door to her room didn't work. Nothing worked. I was so angry, and my frustration wasn't subsiding one bit as her behavior got worse and worse.

Had I stopped to ask myself the magic question, I would have realized that she was indeed acting her age and she wasn't really doing anything out of the ordinary. She skipped her nap time - which was the start of the downfall of the evening - and she was exhausted after a full morning playing outside and with friends. She took her clothes off and put on a pair of tights that was in her dresser and because she had tights on, she had an accident while trying to get to the potty in time. Not just that, she tripped on her way because she tried to take them off and couldn't. Then she refused to get dressed, so she couldn't go outside for the afternoon because she didn't have clothes on. And then she wouldn't pick up the toys,  so she had to go upstairs and go right to bed - no stories, no back scratches, nothing. It was just a downward spiral that got out of control very quickly.

Hunter does the same thing though. He was playing with a friends train table and he discovered that the pieces were individual, so he started shaking the buildings and essentially tearing apart the village that they had built. I told him no, he walked away. He walked over, did it again, I said no, he walked away. Repeat about a million times and then add a smile to his face because he was testing me and loving every minute of it. I was getting frustrated at his behavior, but never stopped to ask the magic question. How old are you? ONE?! Yes, he's one.

That's the kind of thing a one year old does. He has to test his limits to learn what he can and cannot do. I have to teach him right from wrong. I have to keep my cool while I do it so that he doesn't act out as much. I know all of this, but put me in the moment and I don't want to lose the battle with a 3 year old, or a 1 year old, so I am just as stubborn as they are - if not more. Needless to say, my house has been a battle-ground most of today and I'm not innocent in any way. I need to remember my magic question in the heat of the moment and I need to remember to keep my cool and be scream free as I'm going through my parenting moments. I should also ask the magic question of myself, because I can act their age instead of my own at ant given moment and that doesn't make for great parenting.

So, how old are you? And how old are you acting? We all need to act our age, remember to expect 3 year old behavior from a 3 year old, 1 year old behavior from a 1 year old. My expectations need to be realistic of each child even if they act older and more mature at times. But I also need to act my age, too!

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