This morning I was tidying up the kitchen area, getting ready to leave the house when my three year old, came in and grabbed a box of crackers from the pantry exclaiming that she was hungry. It was right after breakfast so I explained that the crackers were not breakfast food but I would be happy to make her another piece of toast or get her some fruit, both of which she declined.
She then started banging the box loudly on the bench which was her way of expressing her disgust at the situation. I chose to let it go and simply sportscast “You’re banging the box on the bench and it’s making a loud noise”. She then started banging it harder and louder and consequently lost her grip of the box causing it to fly across the bench, taking with it a full cup of milk which had yet to be cleared.
With milk now covering the walls, floor and furniture, I wanted to say “Now look what’s happened” but I did my best to stay unruffled by taking a deep breath and saying “That was an accident. I will go and get a towel and we can clean it up together.” I came back with the towels and Miss 3 picked the cup off the floor which surprisingly had a little more left in it. She proceeded to tip it all over the only kitchen chair that was not already covered in milk.
That was the tipping point for me and I snapped “What are you doing? Why would you do that?” The annoyance was clear in my voice and my daughter started crying. Still angry myself, I continued wiping up the milk whilst she sat nearby switching emotions between sad and angry. As I wiped, I reflected on the circumstances and realised much of the blame needed to be cast on myself. I had allowed, almost encouraged the box banging. She did not mean to spill the milk, it was nowhere near where the box was and she would not have thought tipping the last bit of milk on the already milky area would be a major problem.
When most of the milk had been wiped up I looked over at my little girl who was standing near me and said “I know that was an accident. I’m sorry for losing my temper and yelling. Would you like a cuddle?” She came straight to me and nestled in my lap for quite sometime. After a while she said “It’s okay Mum. You didn’t mean to yell, sometimes you just do”, which funnily enough is a line out of a book we read regularly together.
It was a nice moment to come out of a bad situation.
For more information about repairing relationships and connecting with children you may find this post helpful:
Repairing the Relationship Following a Parental Meltdown ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
My parenting is inspired by Magda Gerber’s RIE approach which I learned of through Janet Lansbury’s blog. If you are interested in learning more you can find some good information here or I highly recommend these books (affiliate links)
Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect (2nd Edition) ~ Magda Gerber
Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities — From the Very Start
~ Magda Gerber
Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting ~ Janet Lansbury
No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame ~ Janet Lansbury
Fair enough to the other bits but tipping it up over the only clean chair?! And you need to apologise to her why? I wouldn’t be impressed with that, the rest of the situation I understand but my three year old wouldn’t make the situation worse! And I would expect her to help clean up, is her eyesite ok?
Again you’ve more paitence than anyone I know 🙂
Meant eyesight, just as my friends little girl was getting frustrated all the time and knocking things over, it turned out she was a bit shortsighted and Lucy always sounds frustrated, but it could just be what you post about?! I don’t know what she’s like normally.
Hi Jenny. The apology came about not because of her actions but because of mine. I strongly believe in the power of modelling above almost everything else when guiding our children. If I don’t want my children to yell and be cruel when they are feeling tested, I need to make sure I don’t do these things. Also, if I want my children to learn the value of a genuine apology without blame or excuse, then I need to do the same and know that in the long term they will follow suit. Their age is not developmentally conducive to fully understanding apologies but over time they will pick it up (and have started to do so in basic terms already) and confidently own up to mistakes rather than hiding from them for fear of shame or embarrassment.
I initially asked her to clean up but then after I lost my temper with her I didn’t want her to help me as I needed a moment to collect myself. it was better for me to do it than continue to go down the rage route I was headed in. I don’t know about you but when my children help me clean I need a lot of patience and at that time I was severely lacking in it.
You have a good point about Lucy’s eyesight! Her father is incredibly short sighted (as is most of his family) and I have often wondered what her sight was like. I test her subtly sometimes by asking her if she can see something that is far away and what colour it is etc. She always can but I realise this is hardly conclusive! Thank you for your concern
Just lovely. We have the same book, my daughter is only 18 months, but she always asks to read it, and she whimpers a little when Harriet cries “I’m sorry”. I find it interesting that she responds so much to it.
Thank you, Jasha! It is a great book!
I understand its good to stay calm, but for some situation voices need to be firm, why would you not be allowed to get cross for the child purposely spilling the milk on a chair. a three yr old should know that things like that are not ok. ???? my two yr old knows not to do it… I know kids are all different and all that. but I am just confused with some of the articles or blog entries I read and the sorts of things we should or should not do or say. sometimes a firm NO and cross voice is needed so they know it is definitely not ok. I know children need to be shown respect and all that, but other times NO is No and don’t do it again. why does a child purposely spill milk on a chair? good question…… they probably don’t know either but need to learn its not ok
Great point, Christina! I agree with you about children needing to hear a firm no for these situations but I believe it should be from an adult who is calm and unruffled. What I did was neither calm nor unruffled. I showed unnecessary anger and used shame as a form of discipline which is something I strive to avoid. I realise my three year old should know better, and she does. When she tipped the milk out of the cup it was not in a deliberate or testing way but rather just to show that there was milk still in there. The chair just happened to be right where she was standing when she tipped it. What I should have done was said “There is now a lot of milk to clean up and I would like you to help me clean it.” This would have been a natural consequence and I could have had a meaningful conversation with her whilst we were cleaning about looking after our things etc.
I can sooo relate to this! Even just by reading the title, I felt so comforted that I’m not alone! There have been quite a few times when milk literally spills and I see myself overreacting, the kids crying. Once I come to I can laugh at the situation and think “there we go again, crying over spilt milk!” Xo
Why wasn’t it ok for her to have crackers with her breakfast? They did not have to be the main course, but they could have been a side or an appetizer.