Recently, Ryan has been going through what we can only hope is the “near-3” stage. He has cried more in the last couple of months than in his entire life. He has also become very independent, demanding and stubborn.
I recently read in the great Leigh Montville book Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero a story about friend of Mr. Williams who collaborated to create a sports camp. This friend’s favorite saying was that “the four most important words in American are I can“.
I love this saying….it inspires me. When I first read it, I belly laughed because one of Ryan’s pet sayings right now is “I can do it myself”. He is fiercely independent and wants to do everything himself right or wrong. I have decided that unless he will physically harm himself, I am going to let him succeed or fail on his own.
One of the funniest (and frustrating) part of this independence is that he will actually re-do or re-create a situation himself so he can say he did it. One example, we went to the bathroom for another round of potty training (doing very well, thank you…). He insisted on ripping off his diaper, and when I moved the stool in front of the toilet, he flipped! He said, “I can do it myself”, proceeded to grab the stool, move it back to its original location, and then put it in exactly the same spot I had. He did it himself.
The point of this post….is that I get extremely frustrated with myself upon instant or later reflection. There are times I am so weak…..so soft about my temper flipping on and getting mad at him. When he doesn’t want to listen or do what I say, when he insists on doing something I KNOW is wrong, it triggers me. I KNOW I need to take a deep breath and relax, and I KNOW I should be doing this when I am grabbing him or talking strongly to him. I KNOW I need patience and calm. I need to be able to explain, and explain, and explain, and explain while staying calm so he can learn.
To improve my reactions, I am listening daily to some of favorite books, Toughness by Jay Bilas (referenced in this previous post), and InsideOut Coaching by Joe Ehrmann. I want Ryan to learn how to remain calm so he is able to think about a proper solution, I need to model this behavior better when facing adversity. This is my biggest parenting challenge to date.
I would love to hear from parents what is in your toolkit to help you stay calm.