Was anybody going to to tell me that there was a stage in toddlerhood more brutal than “terrible two’s“? Sanai was actually pretty tolerable around 2-3 y/o, which is probably why this current stage is kicking my butt. I’m not talking about the stage where she throws a little tantrum because she can’t wear her favorite dress everyday. I’m talking about the outright rebellion against anything she doesn’t feel like doing at the moment. I’m talking about the blatant issue with rules and structure. I’m talking about the utter defiance at any given moment.
Lately, Sanai has been going through the very rebellious and defiant stage that I’m speaking of above. She cries out hysterically when she doesn’t have her way and will outright ignore any request to do anything other than what she wants to do. A few weeks ago, her teacher made a comment about her having behavioral issues and I will be honest, I was very defensive. To be frank, I was offended that she even requested an urgent meeting about it. My thoughts were: first and foremost, Sanai is a child. I felt like the behavior her teacher was describing was that of any other 4-year-old. To go even further, Sanai never exhibited any of the behavior at home that her teacher spoke about. I would never completely discount the teacher’s observations because we respect her opinion. So, we addressed these issues with Sanai and made some small changes. After that, we thought we solved the problem and we moved on.
Fast forward a couple weeks after that conversation, Sanai went to Tennessee to spend a few weeks with my mom and my brother’s family. Now let me preface this with some insight: my mom is easily the most patient and understanding person I’ve ever met. I’ve almost never seen her break a sweat or be in a panic- her response is always prayer. The tub could be overflowing, dinner could be on the stove burning, and 10 babies could be crying. You would find my mother swiftly and calmly moving through the house putting out fires, one by one. So, when my mother called me to tell me that Sanai was having some of the same behavioral issues her teacher mentioned previously, I knew I had a problem. My mom said verbatim “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ve never seen her like this.” Immediately I panicked. My mom told me that she would be fine, but I knew I needed to be with Sanai in that moment. So, we cut our kid free vacation short and drove up to Tennessee to get her. Remember that?
When we got home, we instantly noticed the changes. It was like Sanai morphed into this new person and we somehow missed it. Of course, it wasn’t completely out of control, but the behavioral changes were becoming more and more evident, and it left me in a state of worry and confusion. As a matter of fact, minutes before I wrote this blog post, I pulled her out of class and sent her upstairs to her room because she was disrupting her class (and me, as I was downstairs in my office working).
Admittedly, I feel embarrassed typing this because never in a million years did I think “Type A Courtney” would be dealing with a defiant toddler. My natural instinct as the average black mom is to spank her butt like our mothers and grandmothers used to do when we got out of hand. But then I realized that the spanking really didn’t work in the long term because it only hurts in the moment. And while we’re on the topic, I am anti child abuse, but I am not opposed to disciplining your child. If that happens to be a spanking here or there when warranted, then I am okay with that, as long as it isn’t excessive.
So, should I spank her again? Should I take her iPad? Should I take her toys? Should I make her go to bed early every day? This is the constant question in my head. If you think I have the answer based off the title of this post, I’m sorry I misled you. I can’t tell you how to discipline your child, I can only do what works for me. And I’m still figuring that out. While I may pop her hand every now and then, I don’t think spanking her, in this instance, would work.
I’m no expert, but I think the best bet is to discipline your child based on what they will respond to. Sanai loves to be around people, so restricting that will help teach her a lesson. She loves her iPad, so taking that will help teach her a lesson. She loves seeing all her pretty dresses in her armoire, so taking those will help teach her a lesson. I plan to do all those things. But more importantly, I will explain to her why she is being disciplined. I will explain to her why acceptable behavior is a non negotiable. I know “explaining yourself to a child” sounds silly to some people. It’s me, I’m some people. I didn’t think I would be explaining myself to my child.
You know what I’ve learned? She is not just a child. She is a human with her own mind, her own personality, her own thoughts, and her own characteristics. How can I expect her to grow up into a kind, communicative, understanding, and respectable human if I don’t help her understand right from wrong? This has been a struggle. But I will struggle until I don’t anymore to ensure she understands how much I love her and want to raise her to be the best Sanai she can be.
Motherhood is hard but God made us for this. We are not alone. We are in this together. I hope this resonated with someone! Let me know if you can relate to this below.