When I was young, I remember being in a church - probably my grandparents' church - and all the little kids were sitting up front. One by one, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I said I wanted to be a ballerina. Now, maybe I'm remembering this incorrectly, but it has always stuck out to me that the lady replied, "Oh, you can't be that; pick something else!" I can't recall what my response was, but I knew in my head that YES I COULD BE A BALLERINA IF I WANTED TO! My parents had always made sure I understood the age-old saying, "You can do anything if you put your mind to it." I am hoping this is something I can pass on to Ava.
What do I want to be right now? A good mom. But in the midst of a two-year-old-asserting-her-independence, making the right discipline decisions is hard. I've read countless articles and have talked to lots of moms, but knowing what to do in the heat of the moment is a challenge.
Ava has gone through a hitting phase off and on the past year. She doesn't hit her friends at day care; she hits us. It almost always happens when we are trying to get her ready for bed. I know it's been a long day; I know she doesn't want to stop playing; I know it's a way to express the feelings for which she doesn't have words. But how to deal with it is another story. We have tried time-outs: she comes back from time-out and hits again. We've tried threats: "Okay, hitting means straight to bed!"...but then we still have to finish putting jammies on and brush her teeth so the consequence is not immediate. We've tried holding her hands and not letting her use them for a period of time, explaining that we don't hit and since she hit us, she can't use her hands right now.
And, I admit, I even tried hitting her back. Just a small tap on her head, but she cried. I asked her if it hurt and tried to explain that it hurts me when she hits. She went to bed, I came downstairs, and sobbed. Yep, never doing that again!
We make her say sorry and then have a hug, but the next night, she'll be at it again. I'm not sure what the magic answer is in this hitting situation. Not to mention, an added challenge - not just to the hitting thing but to disciplining her in general - is that Jeremy and I have different patience levels. This presents a whole other challenge. I want to maintain a calm but firm demeanor and I strive for that in most situations where she is acting out. Jeremy has a harder time with this and from talking with friends, it seems that most men do. They are quicker to lose their tempers and it's harder for them to understand she's only two years old.
I'm sure these are challenges that a lot of parents face. I know each age is going to bring on a whole new set of behavior issues and that we are constantly going to question ourselves. But that's good. If we didn't question our decisions, I would be worried. And for now, we'll continue to read articles and talk to other parents!
If you have any suggestions about this hitting situation, feel free to share! I'd love it if you left a comment directly on my blog so that others who may be in the same boat can read it (whereas if you leave the comment on Facebook, not everyone can see it). Thanks!