Last week while the kids and I were at the gym's cafe having a snack, the 4-year-old decided that she was going to take away the baby's toys whenever she wanted to. I tried explaining to Linna that she couldn't just snatch toys away from other people, because she doesn't like it when other kids do it to her. She was in a "mood", and yelled, "BUT I WANT IT!".
Here we go.
I grabbed the toy out of her hands and gave it back to the baby. This completely set her off, and she started "growl" crying (it's the best way I know how to describe it) at the top of her lungs. I told her that she was going to lose a privilege if she didn't stop screaming. The screaming continued, so I quickly reacted by taking away her Easter egg hunt with her cousins that weekend (2 days away). This hunt was something she's been looking forward to for a month. Realizing what her mom had done, Linna quickly begged me to give her back her Easter egg hunt. When I said "no", and explained how her actions resulted in this consequence, she FLIPPED out. The "growl" crying ensued. While people started turning their heads in our direction, I told her to step outside the cafe until she could settle down. She listened, but never settled down. She stood outside the cafe screaming, and even stopped a woman to tell her how horrible I was for taking away her Easter egg hunt.
Anyway, she continued to scream and cry all the way to the car, on the drive to school, and continued as we walked into her classroom. I tried ignoring her as she walked behind me, until she could settle down. The looks we got from other parents were actually quite comforting, but it wasn't until Linna walked into her classroom that she stopped crying. I walked back to the car with Baby Jimmy, and called Papa Saigh to "release" all of my frustrations.
|My little Easter bunnies: Linna, age 4. Jimmy, age 4 months.|
|A happy bunch of Krekelberg cousins at Aunt Pulie's after their Easter egg hut.|
I posted this story on Facebook, and received opinions from many of you on what to do. Could I really follow through with my discipline and make the 4-year-old watch her cousins participate in the Easter eggs hunt without her? The thought of this broke my heart. But, if I let her participate, she'd never take my "threats" seriously.
Parenting. Is. Hard.
In the end, we let the 4-year-old participate in the Easter egg hunt. After some serious thought, I realized that I reacted to my 4-year-old's tantrum a little too quickly, and took away something that I wasn't ok with actually taking away. That was my fault. It's also difficult for a 4-year-old to understand a consequence that isn't immediate. While I was so mad at myself for not "sticking to my guns", I realized that doing so might actually be more difficult for ME than her. I don't think I could have sat back and watched my little girl's heart break, as she watched all of her cousins participate in the Easter egg hunt without her.
Yep, I'm a softy.
However, I learned a few things from all of this.
A. Parenting is hard. And it doesn't get easier as they get older.
B. I sometimes react too quickly when it comes to disciplining.
C. When it comes to 4-year-olds, consequences need to be immediate.
And parenting is just THAT... A never-ending learning process (emphasis on NEVER ending).