What I did yesterday to Phoebie will most definitely not be endorsed by clinical practitioners. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
So why did I do it then?
I guess I was so mentally and physically drained by her tantrums and refusal to eat dinner that I didn’t have any energy to even discipline her.
I thought I had resolved her tantrum issues the night before after a good long hug at bedtime, but she reverted to the same thing yesterday morning. To be fair, it is sometimes expected that preschoolers are like that. However, everything was so overwhelming that I didn’t know what to do.
In fact, while Phoebie was in school, I spent almost the entire day crying at home. I felt like a horrible mother and I was tired.
When Phoebie came home from school, she started with her tantrums again, saying that I didn’t buy a snack for her. I got so mad that I threw the hotdog bun on the table. Phoebie started to cry, saying that it wasn’t nice to throw things. I yelled back, “It’s also not nice to throw tantrums!”
Not a good parenting day for sure. I snapped.
I ignored her from there.
But of course, worried that she might get into trouble, I would stand behind the wall and watch her.
I watched as Phoebie slowly opened the wrapping of the hotdog bun and started eating. “She’s more independent than I thought,” I told myself.
I then retreated to my room and put Breyen down for a nap. As Breyen fell asleep, I felt hungry and went to the kitchen to get something to drink.
Phoebie saw me and tried to make conversation but I didn’t want to talk to her.
While eating her snack, she sat close by.
I felt sad seeing her like that but I knew at the same time that I wasn’t calm enough to talk to her yet.
Once I was done with my drink, I went back to my room. It was quiet in the living room and I was guessing that Phoebie must have fallen asleep.
I carried her into the room and let her continue to sleep there. I also told myself that I would use her nap time to cool off.
When Phoebie woke up, I had a talk with her and asked her if she liked it when I ignored her. She said no, and I told her it was the same for me. She agreed that she would not throw tantrums. Since it was dinner time, I told her I would get dinner ready and I wanted her to eat properly.
Just as I finished, Ben came home from work and Phoebie got all excited. She asked Ben to play with her and I told her she could only play after dinner. That was when everything unraveled again. Phoebie threw herself on the floor and started to cry, insisting that she wanted to play first.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my cool and Ben could see it. He took Phoebie into her room and talked to her. I was so mad that I told Ben not to waste his time and just let her be.
I must say that while I was so mad at Phoebie after a few days of uncooperativeness from her, I was glad that Ben was the calm and collected one. He tried to neutralize the situation and took over Phoebie from me.
With Ben taking over, I had myself time to cool down and decided to ignore her again. But when I saw her not eating, I got mad again and took her bowl away. Ben then told Phoebie to ask me nicely for her bowl back, which she did.
As I ate dinner, tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt horrible but I didn’t know what to do. I simply continued to ignore her until I could cool down and think properly again.
So that was how the whole night went. I did my own things, with Phoebie occasionally going, “Mummy, look! Mummy, mummy.” I didn’t answer and acted like I couldn’t hear her.
It all went on until bedtime. By then, I had cooled off and I knew I would have to talk to her, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
I asked Ben to leave us alone and took Phoebie to her room.
“How did you feel when Mummy didn’t answer you?” I asked her.
“Sad,” was Phoebie’s reply.
“Do you know that is how mummy feels when you refuse to listen?” I told her.
I then continued to tell her that when she threw a tantrum or refused to listen, I felt upset too. We ended the talk with a long hug and lots of “I love you”.
This morning, when Phoebie was on the verge of a tantrum, I reminded her of what happened last night. I could see her expression change immediately and she tried her best to tell me what she wanted instead.
I’m not sure how long she will remember my “cold shoulder” treatment for but I know I didn’t feel good doing that. I guess to some extent, it was better than me yelling at her? I’m not sure.
All I can say is that I’m thankful that Ben was the calm and objective one while I was fuming with anger. Just like on days when Ben gets mad at Phoebie, I remind him to calm down. I cannot imagine if both of us blow up at Phoebie at the same time.