No 3 in our series about using positive discipline with your child: The voices in your head
You may have a very severe voice in your head telling you all sorts of should and don’ts about how you should parent. That’s you super ego and partly your own parents voices (or anyway your experience and interpretation of your parents). Feeling that you just can’t be a ‘good enough’ parent and desperately trying to ‘do better’ all the time gets in the way of creating the unique and special relationship with your baby that is so important and wonderful when it happens.
If this voice gets too painful you may have to seek a therapist to help you work out whether you want to listen to it or not – or to see if you can change its tone to a kindlier one...
You may feel very ‘put upon’ by your baby and wonder why you even had him or her. This can make you feel guilty or pretty mad with your baby. Babies cannot annoy you on purpose. They live very much in the present and in their own little bubble of senses and feelings. When there is too much for baby to cope with s/he will get upset and show it. So keep saying to yourself ‘S/he is not doing this on purpose, s/he does not mean to upset me, s/he is overwhelmed and upset, it is making me feel upset, but I am the grown up here, I CAN keep my cool and help her/him calm down in time.’
Walk your baby in your arms, sing a soft song, offer food if you think baby is hungry, change the nappy if you think baby is uncomfortable, give baby a gentle rub all over, let baby lie on the couch and sit looking at baby with your hand on his/her tummy and sing or talk quietly or let someone else take baby if you feel just too tired and upset!
If the resentful feelings get too great get some help from a therapist so that you can own your feelings better and so that both you and baby’s feelings aren’t spilling out all over at the same time! Baby can’t help it – but as an adult you can learn to contain your feelings better!
It is this ability to contain and own your feelings that you communicate to your baby and child which creates an ability in your own child to contain and own their feelings. So much part of positive discipline and learning self discipline!
The less you severely judge yourself or your babies behaviour as ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘unacceptable’ the more your relationship will blossom. Babies can’t be naughty on purpose so always judge his/her behaviour as ‘acceptable’ and appropriate for his/her age and stage and particular challenge that very moment! This is an important stage in developing positive discipline in your child as you will be going with baby’s development rather than against it. Baby will be far more settled and happy and you are well on your way to a child who will be able to behave well most of the time...
Be kind to yourself and others. Accept support and give back generous emotional support that makes people feel good about themselves. Enjoy the good times with your baby and when things are difficult remind yourself that they are not always difficult and the difficult times do pass...
Accept yourself – warts and all – and your baby will grow up more accepting and tolerant of his/her self and of others. And s/he will just be a much kinder and less judgemental sort of person! And so much better behaved in consequence!