The night I slapped Elise on the cheek

Elise has been extremely trying. I’ve read that this is the time preschoolers start acting up and pushing boundaries. She’s been terribly “defiant”, “aggressive”, “rude” and “ill-behaved”, as adults would put it. I’ve been telling her to use her words to communicate her intention to the other party, but it falls on deaf ears. Monster Elise doesn’t show up all the time, but when she does, it’s as if she’s the Devil Incarnate.

The object of contention yesterday was an innocent laundry basket with a ladybug design that Elise upturned and wore over her head. Emmett wanted to have a turn and instead of using her words, she used her hands to signal her dissatisfaction. Picture two neighbourhood strays fighting. That’s similar to how the two fought, except their fingernails aren’t as sharp as claws.

I intervened, because it was a long day and I didn’t want to rush either or two kids to the emergency room in my pajamas. Removing the laundry basket and keeping it high up, I chided the both of them that if they didn’t know how to take turns, then nobody could play.

I dragged both of them to the bathroom and Elise was not having any of it. Unleashing all the pain techniques in her limited repertoire, she pinched, scratched, attempted to bite and even spat at me. My immediate reaction was to brandish a prompt smack on her cheek. Neither respectful nor classy and frowned upon in the entire Western parenting world.

More tears and yelling.

The second step involved Words of Hurt, where she threw out lines like “I don’t like friends. I don’t need friends. I don’t like you. I’ll beat you and then you’ll die. I don’t like Emmett!”.

These words don’t reach deep into my heart because 1. I know she doesn’t actually mean it and 2. I am stone cold inside. =| Restraining her arms by her side, I explained that she has to use her words to communicate her intentions and that if she uses violence, the other party will likely react violently. That’s why I don’t fancy corporal punishment as a method to correct “misbehavior”, even with explanations before and after. There’s just no logical reason to explain why they aren’t allowed to hit other people who misbehave.

The thing about young children is that they rarely bear grudges. She was laughing over a joke with Emmett soon after I released her from my long lecture.

A book that I’m currently reading at a snail’s pace talks about reframing the idea of discipline and focusing on the connection with the child rather than piling on consequences and negative reinforcements. That’s not to say that the children turn out to be spoiled brats.

Rather, it’s to learn how to consistently set limits and address the root cause that’s causing the behaviour (e.g. attention-seeking, over-tiredness etc.) instead of reacting to the “symptom” (e.g. throwing tantrums, slapping, hitting etc.). Respectful parenting is not permissive parenting. My style of parenting is far from respectful, and there’s a steep learning curve. Lots to learn.

Tonight, Elise cried herself to sleep over an ice-cream that she didn’t get to eat. Oh, to be a child, where not getting an ice-cream is that devastating.