“Bad Mom” Moments: Dealing with Toddlers Behaviors and Emotions

Cheesy post alert!!

Have you ever had one of those “bad mom or dad moments??” When I say this, I mean have you ever felt like you did something, didn’t do something that would either make others judge you, or make you judge yourself? Or even doubt yourself. I am sure every parent has had a moment when they have felt like the absolute worst parent in the world.

Those moments, for Jon and I, are both eye opening, and educational. Also sometimes horrifying. Let me explain.

Last week, it was a Sunday and I was getting ready for church. Jon was at work so I had some cartoons on to keep Jackson occupied while I hurried and did my hair and make up. I came out to check on my son, and he had managed to crawl into his little table, and from there. Climb on top of the movie shelf. When I found him, he was standing up, trying to get to some wires behind the TV…which we keep on the mantle. Talk about horrifying! I also felt so stupid for not seeing something like that coming sooner.

I gasped so loud that he was startled. He gave me this look, almost a smirk, because he knew he wasn’t supposed to be up there, but wanted to see what I would do about it. I momentarily debated on capturing this moment with my camera, but then ultimately decided that his safety came first. (See, not a total mom fail!)

That was when we learned how he would test boundaries. As parents Jon and I want most for our little guy to be safe, and loved. We don’t want anything bad to happen to him.

We don’t want anything bad to happen to him, but one thing we have learned lately, especially with the tantrums, and testing his limits, is that sometimes he is going to have to fail, in order to learn. Sometimes, that means letting him scream and be pissed at us because we wanted him to eat dinner, not candy. Or we didn’t want him playing with the microwave.

And, for Jon and I, we don’t think it makes us bad parents. It doesn’t make anyone a bad parent. Some parents don’t believe in letting you children throw a tantrum. They believe in yelling and discipline. Jon and I do not yell at Jackson, and we discipline when necessary.

We see all these emotions he is feeling, and the poor kid doesn’t understand why he is feeling sad, or frustrated. Therefore, we don’t believe in yelling at him for having emotions, or being curious. However that doesn’t mean that his behavior doesn’t drive us crazy sometimes.

Toddlers and kids get to deal with so many emotions, and they have no idea how to deal with or express these emotions appropriately. I recently read an article titled 10 Ways Kids Appear to Misbehave When They Really Aren’t. It talked about how not only do kids have extreme expressions of emotion, but that it’s also perfectly normal:

When you are a parent of very young kids, tantrums and tears become an element of everyday life. It can be incredibly difficult to remain patient with your children on especially emotional days when meltdowns seem to happen once an hour, but don’t be quick to assume your child is spoiled. Extreme expressions of emotions, whether it’s tantrums or tearfulness, are par for the course for young children.

Jon and I struggle nearly every day with Jackson and his outbursts. They can be from the most basic thing, like not wanting to be held, to something more complex, like he can’t express what he wants, and Jon and I aren’t able to understand him. The best way we have found to deal with this, is to allow him to feel those emotions. He won’t be distracted, he will continue to kick, scream and yell until he feels better. Jon and I rub his back, talk to him, and tell him everything will be okay. Because emotions happen. And I want to say this again: allowing your child to cry, and to work through their emotions does not make me, Jon, or anyone else for that matter a “bad parent” or “wrong.”

The article also talked about pushing boundaries. Something Jackson has been doing a lot lately. Earlier I gave an example of how he was climbing. He is definitely testing his limits, with everything from how high can he climb before he gets in trouble, to how many candy kisses can he unwrap at grandma’s before he gets caught?

To quote this article:

As children mature, it is perfectly normal for them to test the rules and boundaries you have set for them. For many children, boundary testing is a way they check to see if you will give them the consistency they so desperately need. In fact, the boundaries we set for our kids are directly related to how well they learn to practice self-control in the future, according to parenting resource AHA! Parenting. So, when your children push back against your rules, know that this is a part of the learning process and a consistent response to this developmental behavior is the best approach, no matter their age.

Remember that bad mom moment I described earlier? Well, Jon and I quickly took that and learned. We learned to move his little table, and we learned that it was time to set more firm boundaries than just the usual “don’t climb in your little table.” We also learned he is smart, sneaky, and he is far more creative than we gave him credit for. And he knows all of that.

Every parent has those bad mom/dad moments. Every parent goes through those times where they feel like they failed. But don’t look at it as failure, look at it as a growing experience, or really try to. That’s what we do haha. How can we change? What did this particular experience teach us about our child? Sometimes it takes a few days. If you are anything like me, some of these mom fails leave me in shock, fear, or sometimes very angry at J or myself. And because of that I fail to see any lessons. Usually it takes Jon and I discussing what happened, how it happened, and why, to find the sometimes painfully frustrating learning experience.

So, from a mom who has probably had bad mom moments weekly, take heart in the fact that:

1. Not a single parent on this planet is perfect. It doesn’t matter what they say or do on social media, every parent has those moments. Those perfect Instagram photos you see from mom bloggers…mostly staged. And most of them take several tries because they are begging their child or children to look at the camera and just be cute for five seconds. And that cute baby they post photos of, I can guarantee has screamed, cried, had a blow out, you name it. No one is perfect, so no one should feel the need or pressure to be.

2. You can learn from these mistakes. Rather than blaming yourself, write it down, or discuss it with your significant other or a friend. I learned just a few days ago that my son can reach the nail clippers, and he knows how to use them. The guilt I felt was terrible, even though he didn’t hurt himself as badly as it looked like he did. But I learned…to do make up in the living room…where I can monitor his every move. And maybe to move the nail clippers too.

3. Even when you feel like a terrible parent for disciplining your child (so, me on a daily basis) they love you unconditionally. Even when they scream at you, and throw themselves on the floor in frustration, they love you. That anger they are feeling is temporary. And even though it’s temporary, I find myself saying almost daily “well, I am the mean parent and Dad is the fun parent.” Or “He hates me.” But he doesn’t. And dad may be the fun parent who plays more and tickles, but I am the one who gives cuddles and reads books. And he loves me for that, as much as he loves daddy for playing basketball.

Finally, keep in mind that these are moments. Unless it’s something major, forcing your child to sit in their seat and eat their dinner is not going to scar them in any way, shape, or form. Just like letting them get their big emotions out of their little bodies will not scar them. They are small moments in this massive thing called life, so deal with them, learn from them, and move on.

Jon and I will be working on all of this stuff on the daily, because we are far from perfect at any of this. We just figured we would share what we have learned recently. And I am sure we will learn much more as time goes on, and as J gets bigger, and gives us new challenges to deal with.

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