I successfully helped Little Nugget through a few anxiety-ridden moments last night. I am proud to say that there was no screaming, spanking, frustration, or ugly parenting thoughts—the ones that make me feel guilty for thinking them—on my part. On Little Nugget’s part, however, there was the usual crying, pouting, and resistance, which I understand is completely normal in a child.
Assisting Little Nugget through these moments shined some light on a couple parenting skills that will help me raise confident and tolerant human beings. I was aware of the skills before, but haven’t really put them into conscious practice yet. It’s never too late to start becoming a better person, right?
Stepping back. I realized how difficult it is for me to step back and allow my Nuggets to do age-appropriate things on their own. I find myself having to work at giving my Nuggets the space to learn about cause and effect, and allowing them to grow from their experiences. The mother in me wants to do everything for them so that it’s done “right”—my way—and so that they are safe while it’s being done. However tempting it may be to do everything for my children, I’ve learned that it’s a vital piece of their life to learn how to do things on their own. Josh is really good at this.
Josh has had the patience to encourage and teach Little Nugget to do things such as brush his own teeth and dress himself. I have felt guilty for not having the same patience as Josh, but on a good day, I’ll cut myself some slack.
I try to give myself credit when it comes to not having the capacity to provide my Nuggets their space. I try to remember that it’s partially because when I’m “mom,” I’m with both Nuggets, so I prefer to get things done instead of take time to coach them through a task. I’m learning, though. Last night was proof that I have it in me.
Explaining. Explaining things to my Nuggets seems like a no-brainer, but the truth is that it takes work. It’s so easy to give Little Nugget the infamous “BECAUSE!” as an explanation and continue with my day without giving him the information needed to understand a situation or learn from it. Let me give you the course of events from last night (in a nutshell) as an example.
The anxiety-ridden moments from last night were a result of Little Nugget falling and breaking skin above his knee earlier that day. (Sounds worse than it is. Seriously, it’s a small boo-boo.) I had laid Z Nugg down to sleep, and then let Little Nugget know that it was time for a shower. The resistance began.
Little Nugget began panting and crying because he didn’t want to get his knee wet as it would “hurt too much.” In the past, I would’ve just forced him in the shower and bathed him through his yelling and crying, possibly even spanking him for “overreacting.” However, last night I decided to consciously parent and explain to Little Nugget that it was important for him to wash it in order for it to heal. I explained that his boo-boo could get worse if he didn’t take care of it.
The explaining in addition to creating a shield over his knee—some parenting magic that I came up with on the spot—helped the situation go the opposite way of how it would’ve gone had I tried my old parenting tactics.
I must acknowledge and pat myself on the back for last night’s successes. I know that my own anxiety attack is still fresh in my mind, so that helped me be mindful of Little Nugget’s emotions. If I don’t acknowledge my successes, it would be like overcoming my obstacles in vain.
I share my thoughts and experiences with you not to boast, but to be honest, transparent, and let you know that you are not alone. It takes a lot of work to consciously and intentionally parent. I want to make it clear that it doesn’t come easy to me and I don’t always succeed, but when I do, the results are beautiful.
I ask you to join me in patting yourself on the back for all the times, no matter how small, that you’ve worked hard to help your child be a better person.
– Big Nugget