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Sep 21

Reactive Parenting

Washing, folding and ironing clothes does not make me this happy. I can stay calm through most parenting challenges. I can cope with interrupted sleep, vomiting children, last minute school assignment crises, misplaced school uniforms, fussy eaters and other dramas without too much distress. I can even cover 18 school exercise books with contact in a single evening without raising my blood pressure. True story.

What I can’t cope with is whining children. Whining drives me nuts. So, this afternoon when my 11-year-old son started whining because I unfairly expected him to pick up a pile of his folded washing and carry it from the lounge room, all the way down the hallway to his bedroom, I kind of snapped.

When he picked up the pile and started complaining about how difficult it was to carry it all at once, I found it hard to be sympathetic. Really, how difficult can it be to carry a small pile of folded laundry? When he dropped half the clothes back to the floor to demonstrate just how difficult I was making his life, that’s when I decided I’d had enough.

So, I did what any rational, emotionally-centred parent would do. I picked up the clothing he had dropped to the floor, calmly walked past him to the front door, opened the door, threw the clothes out onto the path and then calmly re-entered the house.

There are days when you just get tired of saying the same things over and over. You get tired of recalcitrant children, complaints, whining and simple jobs being made unnecessarily time-consuming and complicated.

I’m sure you have wonderful ways of dealing with those kinds of day. Time-out measures for yourself and your children, family routines, disciplinary techniques that overcome these kinds of challenges. I do too, most of the time.

Today, however, I opted for the reactive parenting method of dealing with things. If he can whine, I can have a tantrum and toss his clothes out onto the lawn, right? Certainly sounds fair to me.

Want to share your best reactive parenting moments?

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15 comments

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  1. KatApel

    Nope – don’t want to share mine. 😛 But I sure enjoyed yours!! And I made sure I told my kids.

    (Never you fear – you can be sure I’ll tweet my next reactive parenting moment.)
    .-= KatApel´s last blog ..Net-A-Story =-.

  2. Katrina Germein

    Man, if you can deal with covering school exercise books and not having a tantrum then you’re a more patient woman than me. And hey, you didn’t burn the clothes did you?
    .-= Katrina Germein´s last blog ..September Guest – Katerine Battersby =-.

    1. Susan

      When my son first started school, I avoided having to put my name on the canteen roster by volunteering to help in the library just in time to cover what felt like hundreds of new school readers. I now have mad book covering skillz! 🙂

  3. Rebecca Newman

    Oh, whining. It’s the pits. And flinging clothes sounds cathartic. 🙂
    (I want the next installment! What did he say?)
    .-= Rebecca Newman´s last blog ..Let them eat … marshmallow =-.

    1. Susan

      He quietly went to his room to get changed out of his uniform and put away the clothes he had in his arms already. ten minutes later he came and asked for permission to collect his clothes from the front steps so that he could put them away. It was all very calm and civilised (sorry to disappoint you. 🙂 )

  4. Marg

    I hear you! My almost 12 year old son has driven me to reactive parenting a number of times. To be honest I am expecting it to happen again at some point this week! School holidays. Got to love them!
    .-= Marg´s last blog ..Teaser Tuesday- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins =-.

    1. Susan

      You can sense the moments coming, can’t you? Here’s hoping you get through the school holidays tantrum free (both you and your son).

  5. Melissa

    Oh well, I managed to ruin Christmas for my 6yr old with a nice bit of reactive parenting! The kids were talking at the dinner table about it – where will we go this year, who’s coming, all that excited talk – and I was feeling very, very tired. “Let’s not talk about it.” I said “It’s 3 months away.” They kept talking. “Where do you want to go Mum ?”
    “Nowhere. I hate Christmas! Stop talking about Christmas! I wish Christmas wasn’t invented!”
    Cue 6yr old for lip tremble, eye-filling, speaking through sob. “It’s OK Mummy. We can stay home for Christmas.” Silence from the other kids.
    “Well done.” I thought to myself. “You just made your 6yr old feel guilty about Christmas. Best parenting moment ever.” No-one has made me talk about it since though!!

    I love the laundry thing. some things just don’t require an explanation and/or negotiation.

    1. Susan

      Oh no! You killed the spirit of Christmas! Doesn’t it break your heart when you see that sad look in their eyes and you know your impatience put it there. We’ve all done it.

      I can remember a day when my children were around 5, 3 and 6 months. I had reached my limit and after putting the baby down for a nap, I sent myself to my room for some time out (the older two had been fighting/whining). About 5 minutes later there was a quiet knock on the door. My 5yo son came to tell me that it was okay that I couldn’t take care of them. He thought he could probably get dinner with some salad from the fridge but he was really worried about bathtime because he wasn’t allowed to turn on the bath taps. Maybe the could just use some cold water from the sink with a face cloth. Would that be okay?

      The look of concern on his face as he tried to take over the running of the family because I was having a meltdown was heartbreaking. Definitely not one of my finer parenting moments.

  6. katepickle

    Part of me is scared to read that they still whine at 11…. but a bigger part of me is right there with you chucking the clothes out the front door!

    Yes, I’d like to think that I can take most things in my stride as well, but there are moments… moments when I go slightly bonkers over the smallest things.

    I loathe to admit it, but one day it culminated in me slamming the high chair tray I was carrying down on the to the table only to have the darn thing shatter into a million flying chards of plastic….
    .-= katepickle´s last blog ..My Perfectly Imperfect Life – Day 2 =-.

    1. Susan

      I was hoping that they would pass through the whining stage a little more rapidly too. *sigh*

      Fortunately I am past the high chair stage, but will make not of your high chair tray incident for future reference just in case.

  7. Michelle

    I have no children. Just watching parents struggling with their children in supermarkets is enough to make me break out in a cold sweat…

    I honestly have NO IDEA how you all do it. But I guess I’ll find out one day, when the time is right. Eep. Eepeepeep.

  8. Den Ford

    I’m so with you on the issue kids seem to have about carrying and putting away newly laundered and ironed school uniforms and other clothing, it’s particulary annoying when I have spent ages getting their clothes all nice for them and within seconds the clothes are in a heap on their bedroom floor along with what seems like yet another weeks worth of dirty washing.

  9. Shelly

    Again, thanks for sharing this post with me. I really had a rotten start to the day, and it is great to see I am not alone.

    I do have something that I do to overcome the whining. It works with the 5-year-old, but don’t know how it would work with an 11-year-old. Whenever he whines at me, I whine back. I just say whatever I would normally say, but everything I say for the next few minutes, until he begs me to stop, is said in an extremely annoying whiny voice. Works a charm!
    Shelly´s last blog post ..Parenting Tip- Never Chuck Your Kid Out of a Moving Car

    1. Susan

      I think we all have those days Shelley. Days that start badly and then seem to go from bad to worse. Fortunately, tomorrow is another day.