Thursday, 14 September 2000

Stressed Out Mom

Written by  Toby Klein Greenwald

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QDear WholeMom:

My daughter is 1 1/2 years old. She doesn't listen to "Time out" anymore and if I tell her to go back to "Time out" she cries or hits. The worst part is I'm very emotional because I'm 3 months pregnant. So when she cries, I cry, and then I feel like a mean mom. I really don't know how to handle this and I don't believe in hitting a child, not even a light tap. What should I do?

- Emotional Mom

ADear Emotional Mom:

There are a number of issues to address here. The first one is your personal state of mind that is, by your own admission, "very emotional" since you are three months pregnant. The second issue is your daughter's behavior. The third issue is your feeling of inadequacy in dealing with that behavior.

First of all, your fragile emotional state is normal for the first trimester of pregnancy, and even for later. Hormonal changes, in addition to the "nesting instinct" that creates in us a desire for quiet and order, can wreak havoc with a pregnant woman's feelings. We're stressed out, tired and often physically feel ill when we're pregnant. Sometime we just want to be left alone. We also have an even greater desire than usual for the home to be a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. But we also want to be what we perceive to be perfect mothers, not always possible if all we want to do at three o'clock in the afternoon is shut out the kids and crawl into bed. It takes very special children and husbands to understand these feelings. Naturally a child of 1 ? is not yet equipped to deal with the change in a mom who was previously full of spirit, fun and had infinite patience. So first of all, be kind with yourself and with your feelings.

As to the second issue, I assume that by "Time out" you mean some kind of mechanism through which you give her a command and then expect her to sit quietly and stop crying or playing for a while, as a way to calm her down. Your daughter, however, has her own inner time clock and she may not be ready for the kind of discipline you are describing. Every child is different and her behavior may not be as bad, objectively, as it seems to you in your present state. Remember, she also has to adjust to her mom acting a little differently than she did before.

Thirdly, what is the best way for you to deal with that behavior of hers? Perhaps instead of disciplinary "Time out" measures, you might consider taking her into your lap and showing her picture books while you rock and rest (and if you don't have a rocking chair yet, now's the time to get it!) or even let her curl up next to you in bed while you nap. What she needs now is your closeness and warmth, especially since another little one will soon be joining the family.

I know there are different theories of raising children and you will probably find some that diametrically oppose what I am about to say here, but here goes: Leave the heavy handed discipline to army sergeants. What your little girl needs now is a warm, loving mommy. Use this special time alone with her for some extra bonding before the next baby comes.

Good luck,

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 15:21
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Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald

Toby Klein Greenwald, Executive V.P. Creative Development, is a founding partner and the editor-in-chief of WholeFamily. Toby is an educator, journalist, photographer, scriptwriter, poet, playwright, lyricist, and theater director, including for populations that have experienced trauma or are at risk. She is a Playback Theater conductor and is the recipient of Israel's Ministry of Education's Egerest Award for Culture, for her work in educational and community theater. She has more than 30 years of teaching experience and has served on numerous educational think tanks. Her specialties include the creation of innovative educational programs, and teaching Creative Writing and Film to AD(H)D and LD high school students, and to senior citizens. Toby is married to Yaakov and they have six children, most of whom have made her a proud mother-in-law and grandmother.

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