May has been especially tough period as I went back to a 5-day work week and one of Dumpling's good friends will be leaving the Chinese classes in September as he is going to an International School. This is a big blow to her as she is very attached to her friends. So, for the past few weeks, she has been on this emotional roller coaster ride - demanding for her favorite soft toy to be brought from home to my parents' place at the last minute, speaking in a very huffy tone, having meltdowns, not wanting me to head off to work, etc.
Over the long Vesak Day weekend, she acted up, was rude to everyone, threw a tantrum when we were out dining and (drum rolls) pushed me when she had a meltdown at home. It was then I lost my plot - I held her hand and smacked her right back. Granted that my nerves were frayed and I was still nursing a cough but goodness, not only did I smack her back, I actually fibbed that "it was only a tap."
I decided to take a step back and really look at what has been weighing me down and what I can do to manage her emotions and definitely mine, better. I am not a yeller by nature - loud and talkative as I am, it takes a lot to get me into the hysterical MummyGila (mad mum) mode. I do raise my voice where Dumpling knows that it is business but I do not mad yell daily. With her meltdowns in May, me transiting back to full time work and homeschooling her, it really ate me up.
Hence I started a personal challenge for myself, a 'no yelling' challenge (otherwise known as Orange Rhino). I am not gonna kid anyone by saying that I expect myself not to mad yell once in a while but I guess, the driving force for me is that I want to be a better person who can manage my emotions better.
What I am conscious of is that if I were to mad yell because my emotions are too huge for me, then what am I teaching my daughter when her emotions are too huge for her too?
I started reading on some books and one of them is
Some initial key takeaways I got from the earlier part of the book are:
1) To admit and understand that when I mad yell, it does show that I am not in control of my emotions.
How I am trying to manage it:
I should immediate stop, drop and do something to release the frustrations (and this is where sometimes we yell). In this case, for me, it would be to take a couple of minutes off from the kiddo and distract myself - facebook checks and Math puzzles work great for me!
2) I love therefore I care (and snap!)
I realised that part of the reason why I snapped so often was because I care about my kid (yes, a paradox I know). But in caring so much, it made me into a worrier where I was worried that Dumpling would never get out of this bratty mode hence, there was pressure and this urgency in me that I needed her to change, needed her to improve very very quickly, like "now" would be great.
What I realised:
She will not turn into a brat immediately and it is not permanent. She is going through a phase of trying to adjust to changes and trying to grow into her own little person. While it would be nice to see immediate changes, even growing a plant needs time and constant TLC. In the same way, I need to adjust my own expectations and understand that she is a child and will take time to learn too. There is no immediate hurry and everyday, she is learning a bit more in managing her emotions.
3) Make my challenge known to friends and family
By doing this (and hence my announcement on my FB pages), it challenges me to think before I act. Importantly, my family knows it and are more encouraging (they now know why the ice cream in the freezer is always disappearing) and they know better than to mention anything about the weight I have put on.
One of my friends have also encouraged me along the way, reminding me of a tiramisu treat when I am done with the 30-day initial challenge. (Thank you Jen!)
Importantly, I made it known to Dumpling too - that I am trying to manage my emotions better and I need her help on this too. Our code when I am about to lose it "Baby, Mama is getting really upset. I need you to stop for a while so that I do not yell at you. Can we both do that?"
4) Love language - the healing touch
In the past, I would get really irritated when she would demand hugs from me when I am annoyed with her. When I am upset, I like to walk away and cool off. HOWEVER, I guess God has other plans when He gave me a kid whose love language is 'touch'.
What I learnt:
I learnt that Parenthood is a bigger calling and that it makes you do the impossible. I learnt that my love for her is greater than my anger. Instead of being vengeful (yes, I do get into the mode once in a while) where I would ignore her cries, I learnt to be a bigger being. To count to 10 (these days, I need only to count to 5!), stop and then hug her so that she can calm down. This then makes it much easier to talk to her and correct her behaviour as compared to her bawling her eyes out where it would irritate me further and then I may mad yell all over again.
I also learnt that it is OK for my kid to see me struggle with my anger because it is also a way for her to see and learn how mummy tries to manage those 'big feelings' too. :)
I am still working hard on this journey, learning new things about myself and definitely about Dumpling daily. I am glad that I made it through the 30-day challenge because I feel that on the whole, I am slightly calmer and am able to handle my emotions better. I will continue to also pray for grace for for wisdom daily too. To all those who are on this 'no-yelling' journey whether you are starting, re-starting or contemplating, here's a little something for you to think about. How do you want to be remembered today?