Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I'm sad you yelled at me.

Michael is a really sensitive child. He gets really upset when he feels he's being fussed at or criticized. When I lose my patience and yell unfairly, I try to apologize and give him a hug. As I'm hugging him and apologizing to him I can feel the tension drain from his body and it is clear from his behavior that he is able to move on much better than when I don't apologize and hug him.

Now, I never really raise my voice significantly, but I do let my children know via tone of voice when I am frustrated with their behavior. Due to the nature of a toddler and preschooler sharing the same space, I find myself fussing several times a day. Typical conflicts usually involve sharing or following directions in a semi-timely manner.

Lately, Michael has taken to responding to every correction by saying, "Mommy, I'm sad that you yelled at me." accompanied by a really pitiful face. He's obviously fishing for an apology every single time he's being corrected. I'm torn as to how to handle the situation. I usually say something to the effect of, "Yes, Mama did probably fuss louder than she needed to, but I was frustrated that you ______" (fill in the blank with the current misbehavior of the moment).

I'm not happy with that response though. Am I really trying to teach him that it's all right to yell when you're frustrated? Nope. Perhaps a better response would be, "Sometimes mommies fuss when their children aren't listening. Next time, you can share with your sister and Mama won't need to fuss." I should still apologize when I cross the line and fuss out of frustration rather than a desire to correct misbehavior, but when the fussing is appropriate I should just say so?

Any thoughts? How do you other parents of little ones handle similar situations? How do you think I should respond?

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