It's begun. Our 11 month old has started throwing tantrums and it seems WAY too soon. I wasn't at all prepared for this yet! Didn't he know he was supposed to wait until I could read everything about this and formulate my parenting philosophy on the topic before he could start?
So, here I am, playing catch up (again). I've spent the last few weeks reading, discussing, and doing trial and error parenting in this new phase. I literally have no idea what I'm doing. None. And I think my baby knows. He should know anyway, because I've told him like 8 million times.
"Why are you throwing everything and screaming?! I don't know what to do with this!!" I tell him.
"Ahhh!! You're drinking your water and then spitting it out, all over. Are you done eating? Is this behavioral? Are you trying to tell me something? Should I stop this? Or should I just sit here and watch like a deer in the headlights?" I say out loud.
"You BIT ME! Stop biting me! It actually really hurts!"…..these are some of the one sided conversations going on in our house right now.
So, here's my question: How do you raise a kid to not be a jerk, but also not over parent? I really, really value kindness, manners, empathy and respect and I don't want a child who doesn't know the meaning of "no". We all know a kid or two like this (if you don't, ask a teacher). I don't want that to be my kid. But, I also want to raise him to be who he is, authentically- not raise him to just be "good". (If) and when he's polite or empathetic, I want those to be real attributes he's sharing, because that's him - not because he's just trying to behave because his parents told him to. This is bringing up a level of parenting for me that goes so much deeper than, "Will we spank him?" "Will we yell at him?", and brings me to questions like, "Who is he?" "What works best for him?" and "How do we teach him values instead of rules?".
What I've realized in just a couple of weeks is this: I don't believe in physical harm as a way of teaching, especially at this age. I need to know what my child is capable of, developmentally speaking (can he even understand what "no" means?). I want to say "no" as infrequently as possible, so that when I say it, it's effective. I want to respect and honor his development and personality as much as possible. And, I don't want him to be an asshole or a narcisist (those might be the same thing).
So, this new "season" "challenge" "phase".. whatever.. is going to be a constant balance of taking all of these things into consideration, while trying to teach him empathy, respect, manners, safety, and that food is delicious and should not be thrown on the floor (or the dog, or at people…). And, while I have several books being shipped as I write this (pretty much everything from Janet Lansbury), I'm also learning how to trust my gut because I know my baby. I know his sensitivities, I know his persistence (that's the nice word for stubbornness), and I know how he responds to positive and negative reinforcement. But, lastly (and mostly), I'm trying to react in ways I hope he will react someday if someone throws a tantrum at him. I know there are people that will disagree with this, but I do think "do unto others" is appropriate in parenting too. When someone screams at Lars, do I want him to respond by screaming back? Or by slapping them? Or, would I like him to respond with calmness, curiosity, and rationality? Just some thoughts I've been having this week… it's much easier to say this than implement it, but I'm trying. And, trying starts by really thinking it through and coming up with a philosophy.
Oof, this parenting thing. At least we're sleeping well now?…. Trade in one challenge for the next. I think that's the way it goes.