It's hard to ask for help

Throughout the last year, I have frequently felt inadequate as a mother, for a variety of reasons (many of which I'm going to blame on hormones).  Well, this week I felt like a total failure.  It's hard to acknowledge your shortcomings, especially when you hold yourself to abnormally high standards like I do.  I knew that things had to change when I recorded my son having a meltdown (which he only has around me - this should be a clue) and then yelled at him for being "bad."  All because he was clearly tired and hungry.  As soon as those words left my mouth, I immediately looked at Jeff and said, "Oh my god.  No, I'm bad.  I'm a bad mother for telling my hungry one year old he's bad for being hungry."  I gave Graham food and left the room to collect my thoughts.

After getting him to bed for the evening (which involved me being peed on - while it probably wasn't intentional, I totally deserved it), I headed out to Barnes and Noble to find some books on parenting strong-willing toddlers. When I got to the store and started flipping through books, I realized 1)there are a lot of books out there about parenting and they don't all say the same thing and 2)it's really not about making your kid be a better kid, but learning how to be a better parent.  I had a really hard time not crying while reading through these books that pointed out my many many parenting shortcomings.

After ruling out the book that condoned corporal punishment and the ones that started their "techniques" on kids older than Graham, I finally settled on these three books:

Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson
I'm almost finished reading it and I really think it might just do the trick.  The idea is that you are firm and gentle at the same time.  You create routines, you offer your child choices, you distract and redirect,  you understand and adapt to your kid's temperament, and you recognize that your little person is just trying to navigate this big world.  They don't understand abstract concepts like no, they learn by example, and they respond better when you are giving them some personal power and autonomy.  

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Sign Language by Diane Ryan
Someone recently said to me that their strong-willed toddler responded well to learning sign language, and I've read other places that part of the challenge with this age is the baby's lack of ability to talk, but strong desire to communicate.  I've read through this book and have been practicing many signs to use with Graham.  My mom tells me he used MORE the other day!  Actually, he's saying more pretty clearly now.

Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay
A friend of mine recommended this book, and others have said that they know people who have used it.  It seems (upon skimming it - I haven't read it yet) to dovetail nicely with the Positive Discipline book: give children choices and autonomy, treat them with respect, and be empathetic.  

Beyond being good for Graham, I think this new approach to parenting will be really good for me.  I need to learn how to be more patient, less punitive, more empathetic, less judgmental and more supportive.  If I can learn to be these things for a toddler struggling to communicate, I should hopefully be these things to the grown-ups in my life.


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