I am a single parent and sometimes feel like I am too harsh with my children,

Naomi - posted on 11/15/2012 ( 3 moms have responded )

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both girls age 10 and 4. Example, this evening: My 4 year old wanted to pour the milk into her cup at bedtime, but the milk jug was new and therefore full so I refused. She started crying because she wanted to do it herself and I told her that it was full and heavy and I didn't want her to spill it - she could have helped, but she only wanted to do it herself. She then cried and cried and cried for about 15 minutes in total. I told her to stop crying or she was going to spill her drink... she didn't stop crying - she did spill the drink. I feel really guilty because I got annoyed. I left the kitchen and went to sit in dining room, she came and sat with me, still crying. I didn't want to hug her because she wasn't hurt, but I am considering that maybe her feelings were hurt. Even though it started because she didn't get her way about pouring the milk, I probably shouted when she didn't stop the crying and then spilled it and so made it worse for her. When she finally calmed down I asked her to tell me why she was crying and she said "because I was in trouble". Although it didn't start for that reason, I think I raised my voice out of frustration of the spilling milk. It happens often enough that she is crying, I'm asking why she's crying and she says that I am making her cry. She's only 4. I feel like I am being overly hard on them both.

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Naomi - posted on 11/27/2012

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Thank you both! I felt a bit better reading your responses. My girls are generally very independent and capable, but they just can't do everything! Especially the 4 year old who thinks she can, bless her. :-)

Debbie - posted on 11/16/2012

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Stop blaming yourself! Children know what buttons to push and just how to get what they want. You were being the Mom, in charge. Children need role models and right now, your stewardship is to teach correct principles. When your daughter came to you crying however, hugging is always an option to consider especially after a discipline moment. This helps the child to know you still love them. Children want to help and feel like they have accomplished something. When you can let them have a learning experience give it. You could give her an opportunity to pour the milk when the jug is less full. I used to pour milk into individual glasses and put them in the fridge so when the children needed milk on their cold cereal, they could pour it themselves. What I learned over time is that the sooner we teach our children how to help constructively, the less stressful our lives will be.

I recently had our grandchildren clean up their own dishes from the table before they could play. Each one of them, ages 8,6,4, took glass plates with food on them, to the sink, rinsed them on the disposal side of the sink, and put them in the dishwasher. They decided on their own to develop team work, by having one wash, one clear up and one put dishes in dishwasher. They talked to each other and helped each other accomplish the task. I was very impressed. Children can often do more than we think they can and they want to.



Something I used to help develop good sibling relations is a program called, The Happy Face Token System. It is the most amazing parenting tool available as far as I can tell. It works for MOM to get happy, first-time obedience from the child. The more difficult the child, the better the system works. It helps put into play the things Mom wants to teach like, manners, kindness, honesty, breaking temper tantrum cycles, or crying for no reason. It encourages the child to find ways to serve each other in the family without being asked and helps mom take notice of those things so she can give positive feedback in the form of verbal acknowledgement and physical reward with little happy face tokens. Children love these tokens and will do anything for them. Then they can spend them for things on the Reward List. This is the only chart I have. It has things like: Stay up an extra 1/2 hour, play video game extra 1/2 hour, have and extra snack, not feed the dog. Things your kids want to do. What keeps the yelling and the frustration down for mom is the fact that you control how fast/slow the children earn tokens because they earn them according to your need and desire to let them be spent. Good luck!

Barbara - posted on 11/16/2012

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I can understand your frustration. I would have done the same thing. The only thing I would have done differently is the crying would have not lasted 15 minutes(I could not stand that, sorry) Children have feelings too and I think its nice when we realize that. I would have refused her to pour the milk herself but if you can see that she is crying because her feelings are hurt then maybe you could talk with her about it instead of her crying for 15 minutes. This is my opinion I am sure I will get a lot of flack from this but I do not let my kids just stand around and cry. She has to understand from you that you are looking out for her and that a jug that big is too much for her to handle. Let her do other things that she is able to do on her own like maybe get the bowls off the counter to the table or put out napkins etc.

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