My sweet little girl is struggling at the moment. Struggling to come to terms with the idea that she can't always have her own way. Its seems that at the moment we can't go a day, or often even an hour without her stamping her feet and shouting at us "But I want to do what I want to do!" There have been a lot of tears recently - and not just from her. "It's just a phase, it's just a phase.." has become our mantra, as we try to stay calm. But we don't always succeed.
My initial emotion is anger, I am embarrassed and dismayed by her behaviour, particularly when she acts like this in public. I wonder who this little brat is and where my sweet daughter has gone? I feel rather disloyal telling you this - I'm worried that you'll believe that my girl is a brat (she's not, she's usually very caring and considerate) - I'm also worried that you'll think I'm a bad parent. (Incidentally, when did parenting become a competitive sport? Surely we have enough to deal with without constantly comparing ourselves to others and trying to 'win'? Anyway; that's a topic for another day…) I'm tempted to stop writing here, to delete this post and pretend that my children are angels, but I won't. I want to share this in case you've ever felt this way about your kids. I want you to know that you're not alone.
So, my 4 year old is having tantrums and lashing out because she can't have her own way and i am feeling angry and upset, not least because, in that moment, I don't honestly like my child very much. It's a horrible feeling; I feel like I have failed as a parent.
So yesterday, in the middle of yet another meltdown I made a decision. I decided that getting angry wasn't going to help and that the only useful thing I could do was to find some compassion for her struggles. I had to try to remember what it feels like to be living in a world where you don't yet understand the rules, trying to test the boundaries to find out how things work and what we can and can't do. She is simply trying to make sense of the world and she is struggling to accept that she won't always get her own way. It's a harsh lesson after all, and one that many of us perhaps never fully learn to accept.
All I can do is acknowledge how she is feeling and tell her that I understand that she is struggling, and to give her some sympathy. As difficult as this phase is for me, it's 10 times harder for her. I think it has helped. I'm pretty sure that she now knows I'm on her side and am trying to help, not just trying to thwart her. I certainly feel more positive now and I know things will get better, soon. After all, it's just a phase...