This Mom’s Reflection (and Remorse): You Can’t Teach Children to Behave Better by Making Them Feel Worse…

by Rashmie on December 27, 2012 · 12 comments

in Holistic Living

Mommy Labs

On Christmas my family had come over to our place in the afternoon. Within minutes of their arrival, Pari wanted to go out and play. I said, okay. Play is very close to her heart. It’s a part of life for every child. And, Pari is only seven.

But, I told her to consider coming back earlier than usual (she usually plays for 3-4 hours in our residence campus) so she could spend time with family members. She said she’ll come back in 20 minutes! I knew 20 minutes is nothing. I told her, “you can play longer than that but don’t get too late.”

She came back after 3 hours!

I was upset but didn’t express it by being angry etc. I only said, “Pari, you didn’t keep your word”. She said, “mamma, my friends wouldn’t let me go.” Well…..!

That night, after my family left, I told her I was not happy. Also said, her grandma, Uncle, Aunt, cousin – all might have felt bad. They would have wanted to spend some more time with her. It was Christmas, after all. And her 2.5 year old cousin sister – she would have been happier in Pari’s company.

I talked about being there when your guests arrive; showing that you care…

Pari may have realized that but continued to argue till I began to lose some cool. Yet, I told her how she might feel, if, when she goes to their place, they leave home without spending time with her. That hit her home.

But, by this time my tone had become a little harsh, rather than kind and considerate. She went to sleep after that without hugging or kissing me, which she does – at least a dozen times – in bed. I was awake for quite some time going over what happened; how I’d approached this event…

The next day, I kept thinking what better way I could have had that talk without sounding harsh or without sounding like, you-should-do- this-because-‘I‘-think-this-is-the-right-thing-to-do.”

I could have seen the whole thing more from her perspective than purely from mine and from my family’s? Like I wrote in the beginning, spending time in the company of adults is not as interesting for her as playing with her friends for as long as possible.

I did not bind her to be there for the whole evening. But, making her feel like she’d made a mistake by not coming back within reasonable time was not warranted. Creating a situation where she felt like she needed to defend herself from me was not kind.

As I reflected back, I felt remorse. I told her I understood her need to play and stay back longer. Tears rolled down my eyes as I apologized to her – for burdening her with the responsibility of protecting herself – from her mamma’s appraisal and expectation.

PS: As I opened up my heart, it took courage to put myself out here, be vulnerable, confess and own up. This blog is but a journal of my journey with Pari as a mother and a life-learner. As much as sharing the joyful parts of our journey, it’s only fair that I share the stories of my lessons learned; of the times when I’ve been far far away from being the mother I really want to be, realizing at the same time that only when I reflect (rather than feel guilty – which is about I, me, myself), will I create more joy instead of tussle with my child.