Keeping Your Temper In Check
I’m temporarily a single mom while my husband is off to Morocco to visit his family. Like I wrote before, I am at awe with single moms right now. I completely sympathize with moms whose husbands are away frequently on travel, or moms whose husbands are away on a tour of military duty. For me, it’s only a short stint for me, but boy, has it been HARD.
When my 7 mo. old gets fussy in the evenings, there’s no Dad to take over soothing her. When I wake up groggy in the mornings because she woke me up demanding to nurse every 2-3 hours at night, Dad isn’t there to take over and let me sleep in for a little while. There are no extra hands to haul the stroller or baby bag while I grab all 20 lbs. of her from the car seat when I make a grocery run.
It’s been stressful, and I have to admit I struggled with my temper a few times. They were short-lived, and thank God she won’t remember my shout of “What are you crying about!”. I’m very ashamed that I struggle so much with my temper, but also feel proud that I don’t let it overpower me. I am adamant that I never raise a hand against my daughter, and this is especially difficult for me, coming from a home that practiced corporal punishment even at an early age. In short, shouting, spanks, loss of temper was modeled for me and I don’t want that legacy passed down to my daughter.
The debate continues of course as to whether corporal punishment is an acceptable way of discipline, but I’m not talking about discipline here. I’m talking to mothers and even fathers out there, who’re gritting their teeth as the continuous whine or cry of their inconsolable child grates on their last nerve. They feel themselves about to literally lose it. It’s an innocent baby, toddler, child, but yet they can’t seem to see past the hours of crying they’ve had to endure, or the hours of crying they see still ahead. The stress of caring for an inconsolable child only gets worse when added to the daily stress called life: stress at jobs, everything seemingly going wrong in the course of the day, receiving bad news…it’s a sad fact that the most innocent member of the family sometimes gets the brunt of all that frustration.
What you — we — as parents need to remember is that yelling at your baby, spanking them or worse, shaking them, is a manifestation of your anger. It has nothing to do with your baby. There is no resolution to the stress, and definitely their cries will just get worse. You’re basically kicking yourself while you’re down, and going down a slippery road to a dead end where you may just find yourself regretfully, irrevocably hurting the most precious thing in your life.
I need to remember this as well. I remind myself of this every time I feel my anger flaring because my baby is crying yet again for no apparent reason. She has a reason. She may not be able to voice them yet but she does. She’s uncomfortable, hurting, sad, irritated, upset and it is my most sacred job as her mother to retain her trust in me. That I try my best to comfort her. That I not add to her distress. That I care.
To keep my temper in check I do the following:
- Mentally talk myself out of the anger and remind myself that there is no solution in anger. I also remind myself of my daughter’s innocence…she is not doing this on purpose!
- Leave her and walk away. I have closed the door to her bedroom, gone to another part of the house and closed the door there too.
- Vent frustration in another manner. Yes, I’ve gone to a room to scream my head off. Once that’s done, I feel ridiculous that I was so frustrated in the first place and feel much more clear-headed.
- Get out of the house. I strap her in the car and we go for a ride. Thirty minutes later, she’s conked out in the back seat.
- Walk her around the neighborhood, or at a mall; anywhere there are a lot of new things for her to look at. She’s a social one. She loves new things, new places, new people.
- Play her favorite music. Her favorite is still Bubbly by Colby Caillat.
- Combine them! When one doesn’t work, keep trying another. Or try them in combination. For example, I’ve driven her around with her favorite song playing in the CD player.
I would love other suggestions.
P.S. Her Dad comes home in two day. Can’t wait. 🙂
Important Note: No matter how angry you get with a baby, you MUST NEVER SHAKE THEM. This type of shaking may create a whiplash motion and can be fatal for babies because of their delicate neck control. Even when not fatal, it can result in major neurological damage.