By Esther Rachel Lai. - 9/21/2013

In a blink of an eye, Kylie has reached the stage of the terrible twos. With toddlerhood, I am faced with more parental challenges & I'm learning every step of the way. As she evolves from a baby and slowly into a child with her own mentality and set of reasonings, discipline becomes a growing issue as well. Back when she was an infant, I didn't have to tell her what to or what not to do, but as she grows and sees more of the world, develops her own mindset, I'm finding myself tackling with a stubborn little adult almost everyday.

As a young mother, I reckon people would naturally have the impression that I'd let my child do what she likes, get spoilt rotten like the kids from Toddlers & Tiaras & let her yell back at me. Sorry or not sorry in this case, to disappoint the stereotypes but even though I got pregnant an age that's not exactly socially accepted in this modern era, the last thing I want to see is my daughter growing into a rebellious tot & proving the stereotype on young mothers right.

Everyday I'm thinking about my disciplinary actions towards Kylie, reflecting on what I did right or what I could do better. I'm learning each day, on new parenting skills, through trial and error, through the experience I face in everyday reality. I've learnt to put myself in my two-year old's shoes and see the world through her eyes. 

I've learnt that however angry she might get me sometimes, bursting out in a sudden spit of anger and yelling at her, really don't work at all. Yes, the kid may stop what she's doing immediately and cry out of fear but that doesn't guarantee that she wouldn't repeat the same act again. Why? Well, it's simple. Just put yourself in the shoes of a two-year old. Toddlers have little sense of right and wrong, they don't know what danger is & by shouting at them to stop won't make them realize what they had done wrong at all. They'd listen, yes. But only because "mommy's angry" and not because she realized that her act wasn't right. I'm not saying don't get angry at a child. Showing your displeasure towards her action is necessary but what I'm saying is that explaining the concept of what he/she's doing right or wrong in a stern and serious tone works a lot better than just yelling at the child and expecting them to obey out of fear. It might take a few tries before she understands why but when she finally does, there you have it, mission accomplished. 

As parents, we often make the mistake of wanting our child to listen to us but we fail to make our kids understand where we're coming from. If we're able to teach our child to understand why we want them to listen and not just to listen to us out of fear, they'd realize that the reason why we tell them not to do things is because we want the best for them and not because we're restricting them. I believe that kids are a lot smarter than what we think and if we take the time to explain to them like say...why they shouldn't touch a hot iron - cause it'll hurt them and we don't want to see them get hurt because we love them, instead of just telling them a straight no because the iron is hot. They're able to understand where we're coming from. Toddlers are curious little people and the world is still new to them, as parents we need to help them to understand the world a little while letting them have the freedom to explore their surroundings in their own understanding. We're not the military & we shouldn't impose our concept of the world on them and restrain their own growing understanding of the world but we should act as guides. To compliment them when they do good and to warn when they're on the path towards danger. In summary, obedience through understanding and love will last a lot better compared to obedience through fear.

I've also learnt that trying to yell over your screaming, stubborn, temper-throwing tot does nothing to help at all. It only adds fuel to fire and cause the child to scream louder. We all know how tough it is to get a screaming tot to calm down and listen to you but I've tested and tried this method and it works all the time. Pick the child up, & whisper what you want to say right into his/her ears. He/She would struggle and kick, scream and yell at first but once you're able to get a hold of them and whisper right into their ears, explain to them why you don't want to give them that lollipop or chocolate, they'd naturally calm down, ease their screams into sobs and try to listen to what you're trying to say to them. Tots usually throw tantrums to get what they want and you'd never hear the end of it until you give in but this doesn't necessarily have to be the end result. Like i said before, it's all about patiently explaining to the child. When they realize they're never gonna get their way no matter how much they scream, the tantrum throwing acts will lessen. Giving in to their tantrums even once or twice will only encourage the bad behaviour. If you're okay with giving them that piece of chocolate but they are already throwing a fit, at the very least, tell them that you'll only give it to them if they stop crying. Don't give it to them just to make the incessant cries stop, make the cries stop first before you give it to them. This will teach them that they're not gonna get what they want if they continue throwing a fit. & make sure you keep to your word. It's very important not to go back on your word when it comes to children. Go back on your word once, twice, come the third time onwards, you'll realize they would refuse to listen to you no matter how you try.

Being a mother has also taught me to watch my actions. When I tell my child "No Kylie, don't do this" or "don't do that" am I being a hypocrite and doing exactly what I'm telling her not to? I remember once when we were having chicken at Popeye's with some friends and Kylie wanted to eat with her hands when I had already given her cutleries, I got frustrated at her because I didn't want her to make a mess  & kept telling her not to use her hands. My friend then pointed out that it's ironic I'm telling her not to use her hands when all the rest of us are. I realized my mistake and immediately apologized to Kylie and allowed her to use her hands. Kids love to mimic the act of adults and if we're doing it then why can't our kids do it to? If you say "cause it's wrong" then why are you doing it too? Or if you're eating a bag of chips and they want some to, why are you not giving them some when they ask for it? If you don't want them to eat such unhealthy stuff, then don't eat it in front of them. Our children are our mirrors, I often see myself in Kylie and I'm always trying to keep myself in check and correct myself & it usually takes an act from Kylie to make me realize what I'm doing wrong. It's not easy to see your flaws but having a child makes you a lot more aware of yourself.

I may not be the best mother & it's still too early to say if my parenting skills are a success but I'm trying to be the best that I can be for Kylie and I'm learning more about being a parent everyday. It's not easy, it's a lot of reflection to do & there's no guarantee that Kylie will not turn wayward but it's a start & I'm doing all I can in my power to guide her onto the right path so that when she grows, she'll have the ability to think for herself on what's right to do even when there's no one there to tell her. A lot of adults are unable to see me as a mother, all they see is a playful young girl who's still naive and have a lot to learn & I admit, that's true, I'm still young, my heart is still wild & I still have a lot to learn but who's to say I won't make a good mother?

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