The Road to Being a Switzerland

Parenting doesn’t get any easier- it just gets different. 

The theme of my parental week has been about not being a pushover, but when you get pushed and someone doesn’t listen to your words about their physical aggression what do you do? I’m so sick of saying “use your words”. Some kids have never been encouraged to use their words nor do their parents have any parameters for what is acceptable use of their bodies. Well if they are set they are far less reasonable than my own. How many times do you want your kids to be pushed, bit, hit, hair pulled by another child and them say “Don’t do that to me- I don’t like it”? How many times is appropriate?

Make love not war right? It’s amazing what happens to a child when you show them how to fight back. It is also amazing what happens to the aggressor when they realize that force will be used and no longer words.

Don’t we all like to think that we could defend ourselves when the time comes?

When we teach our kids to ride a bike we teach them bike safety. When we take our children to the pool we say “walk not run”. When we take our children in the car we demand they buckle up… we do all of these things. When was the last time you looked at your child and said, “If the other child hits you and they have not listened to your words… hit them back.” We encourage them to walk away – to talk it away but have we taught them enough about fighting the problem away?

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When push comes to shove are they honestly prepared? Some day they may need to be. One of my former students posted on facebook the other day that a man tried to coerce a little girl to leave a local store with him and the former student stopped him. The young girl had enough sense to stay with a store employee and refuse to leave with the man. I know I’ve said it to my children, but this week I felt like I should say it more. My mom used to tell us girls to kick- scream- bite – scratch – kick them where it hurts- punch and scream some more. When the means are necessary use them.

Red heads, hot tempers and when the tears start to flow

Why wait until our children are in middle school before we address ways to control their temper? My son said to me yesterday “Sometimes I get so mad and I know I’m losing my temper. For example, I may be upset something you did and then I am mean to my sister. Sometimes I get so angry I just can’t help but cry.” We talked about counting it off, walking away to be alone, writing it down or just expressing how upset we are with calm words. My friend was telling me the other night that her daughter has taken to stomping up the steps in anger. She has simply decided that this is the acceptable form of allowing her daughter to express herself. This will pass as she ages, but for now it’s better than hitting, yelling, or slamming doors. The other options are far worse…. I tend to agree.

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My husband and I were talking the other night about being emotional children and how our son is much like us. He will cry and get upset, but he’s better off than I was as a child. I would cry at just about anything. While we were away last weekend my son told me it was hard to be away from our younger dog, Benson. He said when he gets scared or upset that Benson calms his nerves and keeps him from being as anxious about things. I can totally relate to that feeling when it comes to dogs. I’m just so amazed that my son can identify the ways to cope and calm himself down. I’m proud that he can identify what he does when he’s losing his temper. My husband tells the funniest stories of fist fights he got into with neighborhood kids and how getting into those fights taught him to work things out before it gets that far because he sucks at fighting to it’s best to have a better plan.

No one is born having all of the right controls to their situation- Most of us arrive to this world screaming our heads off. 

 All of these things we learn and grow to learn as an adult some of us are still trying to figure things out now. Some people have been calling my son “sensitive” or a “crybaby” or a “scaredy cat”. He has gone from crying to hitting back when necessary and then crying because he was mad at himself for losing his temper. Embarrassed and regretful that he has lost his cool. Lord knows I have been there.  Once I punched my sister clear in the gut knocking the wind out of her and another time I locked her in a rabbit cage and refused to let her out until she consumed some of the rabbit feed… yeah it happened. I have reasons for why and how I lost my temper with my sister- they are irrelevant but what is relevant is that I found my balance… it just took time. 

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My take on it is-my son is learning the in between of being a crybaby and a kid that loses his temper. He’s eight and he will find his balance and hopefully he’ll end up like me and his father- Even Stevens. My husband’s nickname was Switzerland for a while- always go with the flow- always neutral- always fair and for that he’s a trusted friend. My son is just growing and changing and I am just parenting with the skills and experiences I have to help him. I will tell my son to defend in a fight but not pick them. I will tell him it’s okay to cry. I will tell him he’s okay the way he is and that I love him. I’m his mother. That’s what I’m supposed to do.

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