Do you ever feel like a bad parent?
I did a few weeks ago.
We’re not long returned from a lovely family holiday to Disneyland Paris where our girls were utterly spoilt with the whole experience, but also in the shops there too.
The week after we returned, one of daughters seemed to have developed a new personality where she was demanding, rude and ignored my pleas for her to behaviour better and change her attitude.
Over a number of days, her behaviour increasingly worsened. One day in the park on the way home from school, I advised the girls, as I always do, that they had five more minutes before we had to leave.
At this point one of my daughters turned around and announced that I couldn’t tell her when to leave and she’d leave when she was ready.
I was pretty mortified if I’m honest as this isn’t her usual behavior.
I kept calm, but was stern in telling her that wasn’t the case and that she had five minutes left.
The same day after I’d make the girls their dinner, they were both in the kitchen so I asked them to carry their plates into the living room and set them on the dining table so that I could carry their drinks in. One of our daughters happily obliged, while the other refused. Again, I stayed calm, but was stern and eventually she carried her plate into the room.
However, she then proceeded to deliberately drop her plate on the floor and then refused to pick her food up.
I shouted at her. Told her how naught and ungrateful she was, and I sent her to her bedroom.
I told her to lie in her bed and go to sleep. That she wouldn’t be getting any tea and that I would be binning all of the lovely toys we’d bought her from Disneyland. I then proceeded to collect the toys, left the room, dumped on the kitchen top and slammed the bin shut loud enough for her to hear, giving the impression that I had just binned her toys. I hadn’t, obviously, they cost a lot of money! I simply put them out of sight.
Of course, she cried. She was pretty inconsolable, but I was just fed up her behaviour. I asked her to be quiet, go to sleep and think about her behaviour.
I left her food on the dining room table.
Five minutes passed and I could still hear her crying.
I felt guilty for the way I’d reacted.
Had I over-reacted?
You see, it wasn’t just the one naughty incident, but the number of naughty incidents that had occurred that day, in addition to her bad attitude since returning from Disneyland, that made me react the way I did.
In hindsight, I wish I’d been more patient, but I wonder if her behaviour would have continued if I hadn’t reacted the way I had. That she would think that she could get away with it.
When I’d calmed down, I sat on the bed with her and held her in my arms. I talked calmly to her and asked if she understood why I was upset and why I reacted the way I did. She nodded her head and said because she’d been naughty.
After we’d both calmed down, she ate her dinner and I gave her back her toys.
In some ways, the way I reacted had a positive outcome. I use it as a teaching point now when she behaves the same way, and warn her if she doesn’t want the same thing to happen again, then she needs to change her behaviour.
I still feel guilty though. I think us parents will always feel guilty occasionally about the punishments we dish out. Do you?