Connection and Conflict

This morning was a real struggle!  My 3 1/2 year-old daughter, Bryna, has been coming with me to my music classes for the past 2 years.  While it is challenging to wear both “Mom-Hat” and “Teacher-Hat,” it has always worked well and has been a really special experience for us to share.  Except for this morning.

From the beginning of class, Bryna was demanding my attention by yelling my name, climbing on me, stopping my guitar strings, interrupting the songs, and basically acting like a cranky 3-year old.  I usually know how to address this behavior as a Mom, but when I’m the lead teacher for a room full of moms and children, it is much more limiting!  Luckily, I have a good friend in the class who dragged my screaming daughter from the room so I could finish teaching, but I was embarrassed, angry, and very discouraged.  Bryna tantrummed the entire way home in the car, and by the time we arrived, all I wanted to do was spank her and lock her in her room until she stopped screaming, or for the rest of the day, whichever came first.  (Full shameful disclosure: I have actually tried this route in the past, but it did nothing but escalate the situation even more and make me feel guilty and crappy about myself.)

Two mantras that usually help me to meet my kids’ tantrums with compassion are:

They are not giving you a hard time, they are HAVING a hard time,” from This Blog Post It is TOUGH being 3.  You are smaller and slower than everyone, and you have very little control over your life.

“H.A.L.T.” Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (the perfect recipe for emotional instability for both kids and grownups alike!)  This article talks about applications in parenting.

Ironically, I had just posted This Article on my business Facebook page the night before, about the importance of creating connections with your child through positive and intentional interactions.  With that in the front of my mind, I reflected more on what this week has really looked like so far:

  1.  We returned home 4 days ago from a week-long Spring Break trip full of Grandma and sugar, and basically devoid of routine.
  2. We’ve been prepping a rental property to go on the sale market, which means I’ve been spending hours on the phone during the day, and dragging Bryna on lots of super-fun errands to places like Home Depot.
  3. This also meant my evenings were spent running around to get things done, leaving Dad to do bedtime routine alone.

Even as I was posting an article on the importance of connecting with your child, I had spent the week basically powering through my todo list without taking time to be present for my kids.  Combined with Easter/Spring Break detox, no wonder Bryna was so off kilter!  Though I wanted to punish, instead I gave her a long snuggle on the rocking chair, let her help me cook dinner, and played play doh with her before putting her up for a needed nap.

Bryna is a fierce and independent little lady who usually does a wonderful job rolling with whatever the day brings.  It is easy to forget that she is not a mini-grownup, she is a three-year old who needs routine and attention in order to help her regulate herself.

It is entirely possible that Bryna has reached a stage where bringing her to class is no longer the best arrangement, but I am going to spend the rest of the week keeping a diligent routine, limiting treats, and making sure to schedule some intentional Kiddo-time without my phone nearby.  We’ll see what happens!  In the meantime, Solidarity all you Mom’s of 3-year olds!




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