Parenting is tough, especially when a child just doesn't want to follow the rules.
Just ask Shauna Harvey.
Harvey wrote about her struggles on Facebook:
I've found myself so incredibly stressed out, I beat my head against the wall daily because I don't understand why my four-year-old insists on being disrespectful and a non-listener. I was to the point of crying at least every other day.
So the mother of two tried something new, something she learned from a blog called, “The (Reformed) Idealist Mom.”
According to the blog's owner, Kelly, she too was at one point an “angry mother.” Thanks to an exercise she developed using five hair ties, she helped convert herself from an easily frustrated parent to one who “talked to her kids with the same level of respect and kindness that she uses to talk to her husband.”
Here's how it works:
When your kids wake up in the morning, put the hair ties around one of your wrists. [...] If you catch yourself snapping at your kiddo, move one hair tie to the other wrist. But your goal is actually to make it to the end of the day with all five hair ties on the original wrist. So what do you do if you slip up?
You can “earn back” one hair tie by doing 5 simple things to reconnect with your kid. Research shows that to have a healthy relationship, for every one negative interaction you need 5 positive interactions to balance that out.
As Harvey wrote on Facebook, she reconnected with her son by engaging in activities such as having a dance party, singing a song together, and reading together.
She finished the first day with all five bands on her original wrist.
She took pride in this:
I'm very proud of myself for exercising patience with him. I know it's only day one, but I'm hopeful this will help our communication skills and our relationship.
Harvey told Independent Journal Review that it's almost been two weeks since she started the exercise, and in those two weeks, she has already seen a difference in how she and her son interact with each other:
“I'm learning to exercise patience. And he's not as frustrated with me. It's so easy to resort to anger, that goes for anyone. Nobody likes to feel sad, so it's easy to just go automatically to anger.”
The mom of two continued:
“I've gotten SO many comments about how I need to 'discipline' him. He is in fact disciplined! This exercise is for adults to practice patience because let's be honest, if you're a parent you have totally lost your s**t before! If you say you haven't, you're lying to yourself! Parenting is full of ups and downs and also LEARNING how to exercise patience with a small human being who is LEARNING themselves on what it means to be patient. Parenting doesn't come with a handbook, we all know that. But we're examples for our children. We need to set good ones!”
Harvey recommended that other parents who find themselves losing their cool easily give this a chance. She points out that “it's not an overnight miracle,” and that it will take “dedication and persistence.”
The end result, however, is so worth it.