Whenever my child has a melt-down or behaves badly, my instinct is to react immediately with a scolding, or a punishment. Not a proud thing to declare, especially since I tend that way more often than I should (you would think I know better). No surprise my journey towards good parenting is still far from finished!
So now each time I feel tempted to fall back on my old ways, I try to take a deep breath and remember A-B-C or Antecedent-Behaviour-Consequence. This sequence of letters reminds me that there had to be a trigger (Antecedent) that brought on what I’m seeing in my child (Behaviour): acts of whining, tantrum, melt-down, anger, or even retaliation through hitting, which then often leads to the result (Consequence): time out, punishment and just generally an angry mess, and unhappy family members.
I know Caleb doesn’t know how to manage well his feelings, and how to control his temper (then again, some of us adults have that same struggle too!). I know if he understood and could, he would choose a better way to express himself. But for now, what he will do is get upset, lash back (if say it was triggered by a fight with his brother, or even me or mommy), and be a complete contrarian, doing exactly the opposite of what we ask. So if say we ask him to respect personal space, he will deliberately sidle up closely to us; if we tell him to sit, he will roll about or start stimming (gesticulating); or if we tell him to stop shouting, he will take his decibels up an extra notch!
Which often makes me want to respond likewise too.
At times I just want to smack him into submission (and more than once, I’ve found myself doing just that!). But I know it does more harm in the long run, than good. I still remember vividly how my late father would beat me so hard when he was angry with me, I would literally pee in my pants! I was a small kid then and it’s been a long time now, but somehow those memories stayed with me until this day.
Will Caleb have more of such memories of me than the rosier ones? For sure I can’t take back those times I made the wrong call and lashed out at him.
I can only pray and hope that maybe in the final scheme of things, he will understand that once upon a time, just as Caleb once found it difficult to learn his “A-B-C”, his daddy too struggled with grasping his “A-B-C”.