Published On: Mon, Jun 24th, 2013

The Monster Within The Mummy

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

It sits there in all of us, waiting The Monster Within The Mummyfor the opportunity to rear it’s ugly head. It taunts us, frustrates us and can even sadden us into thinking we are the worst mothers in the world. While it lives in us all, the way we deal with this monster can have a dramatic influence on how we feel about ourselves as parents, and our kids about how they feel about themselves. The monster I am referring to of course. The mummy’s temper.

When our kids do something wrong, many of us make the mistake of believing that we have to yell, scream, jump up and down and show our claws to make our kids listen. But what you may not realise is that when you let the monster out, you are teaching your kids through fear. Fear is not the best of teachers, as kids can tend to focus on the fear and do not keep it contained simply for that event. Instead it seeps it’s way into other aspects of their lives, making them more hesitant to approach you about unrelated matters. After all, who wants to play with the idea that the monster may come out and bite them at any moment.

The monster is lazy. It doesn’t want to think of strategies on how to fix the problem. It simply roars and does not think of the consequences of it’s actions. If angry enough, it doesn’t care who is present or how loud it is. It doesn’t care how it makes the recipient feel or what kind of role model it is, it just needs to get rid of the fire in it’s belly.

To keep this monster at bay, you need to make a diversion off this track. We can tend to get ourselves stuck in patterns of behaviour. “When he does that, I always do this”. Most patterns of behaviour need to be consciously changed. The new path you want to create is to remain calm even in the face of difficulty or stress. When you do this, you teach your kids how to deal with their own difficulties and stresses.

We are our children’s greatest influence. They watch and take on board how we show happiness, interact with others, deal with problems like mobiles in the washing machine (a recent event at our house) and what values are important to us. So isn’t it only natural that they learn from us how to deal with difficulties and stresses? If you throw stuff, they will throw stuff. If you swear in anger, they too will use this strategy. We want to teach our kids self control, and I’m afraid the monster knows nothing of this.

There’s a ladder, it has three rungs. In control, losing it and then there’s the monster’s rung. He sits at the top of the ladder and waits for you to climb up before unleashing his ugliness. He may not look so bad when you’re at the bottom and he at the top, he can even look effective. But start climbing, get closer, and you will discover he is hideous, spews guilt and once you reach him, you will regret it.

You know when that swearing in your head starts, that muttering under your breath, that clenching of the teeth, that… okay so you know what I’m talking about. When this happens your feelings, thoughts, body language and train of thought go down a certain path. This is when he emerges, and becomes intent on making someone pay for the crime be they at fault or not.

To help you to steer clear from the monster at the top of the ladder, use sweetners. These are words such as buddy, mate, darling, blossom. Sweetners you say? Surely just nice words can’t be powerful enough to keep him at bay. But when you use sweetners your feelings, thoughts, body language and train of thought goes down a different path. It does not make sense in your brain when you yell “ANGEL BLOSSOM”. The brain is confused. Sweetners help to send you down a different path, a path of greater calm and restrain. But beware, sweetners will not help you at the top, but will certainly help you stay down the bottom.

Sweetners will not help you at the top of the ladder, but they will help to keep you down the bottom AND even assist you in the middle. So what do you do if you get to the top of the ladder? Tell your kids you are too angry to talk right now and either ask them to leave the room or you leave the room. If out you simply need to not interact with them for a short time. At the top of the ladder interaction is going to be full of anger, where there is a good chance you will continue to handle it in a way you will regret later. Simply say what you have to say, quickly and concisely and then move away. If you’re out and about, simply stop interaction.

Keeping the monster at bay I believe is a choice. You can make the decision to either yell at the kids or keep your cool. But don’t be too hard on yourself if he visits regularly at your house. It takes practise to chain him up and put a muzzle on him. But know this, that your kids will thank you for your bravery, and for giving them a mummy who is monster free.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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