This morning, Miss4 finished her breakfast earlier than her sister and ran upstairs to get ready first. “Not fair!” her sister screamed, “she always gets ready before me!” “Well, if you wouldn’t sit there and scream and cry, you could get ready faster,” I criticized in return. She ran out of the room in tears and screamed that she hated her sister. This phrase had been appearing with alarming frequency lately, and I was tired of it. I charged into her bedroom to call her on it, but before I could get a word out, she yelled, “Why do you always yell at me but you encourage her?”
I stopped dead. “You’re right. You’re totally right. I shouldn’t do that.” Because her sister is still 4, I use a completely different approach with her. Demands fall flat–the stronger the demand, the harder she digs her heels in. Miss7 outgrew it, mostly, so to encourage her to get ready quickly, I had appealed to her growing sense of self-responsibility. When she started first grade, we told her that she knew what the morning routine was, and that she was big enough to get ready without being prompted every step of the way. It worked great.
Well, somewhere along the way, that got lost. She constantly gets distracted doing the littlest tasks, and she has to be reminded multiple times every step of the way. It’s easy for morning drama to escalate, especially when Miss4 “does things first.”
So, Miss7 and I had a good talk about how we shouldn’t yell at each other, and how she needs encouragement just as much as her sister does. When we got to the point about not saying “I hate you,” she said “It’s hard helping take care of a little kid.” “I know,” I said, “and I have *two* to look out for.” “I do, too, Mom,” said Miss7, “I have to remind you of stuff sometimes, too.”
Yep. She’s totally right. It’s not fair for parents to take out frustration and stress on our children, but everyone falls prey to it eventually (and for most people, repeatedly). I just hope that others out there are lucky enough to have a kid that will call them on it.
Going to go cry in my Cheerios now.