I recently read an article titled "Tame Your Temper" from one of my last issues ever of Mothering Magazine. Although I am personally frustrated and have recently been jipped by this company, this article is worth mentioning because I just tried it with my 2 1/2 year old and it worked!
If you know me at all you know that I'm feisty, quick-tempered, don't shy away from confrontation and am a Mamma Bear when it comes to my kids (and my husband, I have to admit). All of these things have proven to be both strengths and down falls depending on the situation in which they are used.
Let me tell you something, my temper almost got the better of me today, as it does most days with Ruby Red. She and I already have that kind of "tug-a-war" mother-daughter-relationship and I absolutely despise it. She is like me in so many ways. So many people, my husband and myself included, recognize that her strong-willed personality and equal "feisty-ness", if channeled the right way, will allow her to conquer the world and do much good in the world. Seriously, she could be that amazing if she learns earlier than her mommy to control her temper!
Today was a day like every other except that Baby Blue is sick with what Ruby Red had a week ago. This includes a very high fever, lethargy, a lot of snuggles and moping around. Now that Ruby Red is well again she's ready to go as usual but I have had my hands tied up in nurturing Baby Blue; Ruby Red doesn't like it one bit! Now that she's better she wants to play, and read in the tent (if she agreed to the couch we'd be fine!), and jump around like a little monkey. So, being a 2 year old and still learning how to express her emotions, we've been having a number of meltdowns and tantrums today. Now normally this would end with me trying to stay calm, but instead my blood pressure rising to the point where I explode, we start yelling at each other, both storm off and so on. Today I decided would be different. Ruby Red is never going to learn how to control her temper if she sees her mother flying off the handle. Instead I sat her down and told her not to move, like I always do. The difference was I told her that mommy needed to leave the room to breathe and calm down so I didn't lose it. I left her knowing she was safe. I went into another room, closed my eyes, prayed a desperate Hail Mary as I begged Our Lady to help me be more like her, then I began to consciously take deep breaths in and out until I felt my entire body relax. After a couple of minutes had passed I was calm again and Ruby Red had stopped screaming because she had no one to put a show on for. I went back in and we talked about her behavior- how it makes both mommy and Jesus very sad and that our goal is to make Him smile. I explained to her that Jesus' "boo boos" on the Crucifix were there because of tantrums from both kids and mommies and that we can make them feel a little better when we act out of love instead of screaming to get our way. You know- she got it! Granted she was right back to throwing another tantrum only a half hour later but I repeated everything and kept reminding myself of the article I read- of how it said to say to yourself "I can only control my actions, not hers..." I was shocked at how effectively it worked. I hope I can continue this and hopefully nip this in the bud and give my girls a head start at learning a better way to handle stress and frustration.