The day my daughter lost her sh*@! over the word an

I don’t ever curse… you can ask my friends they’ll back me up, but I had no other way to describe today… the day I’m still in as I hide in my room with the timer set to 15 minutes as the girls have break/running/no work time. I’ve spent the last two hours with a screaming and crying almost 6-year-old. I am using this post to literally unpack what happened in my mind and hopefully try to learn from this experience for her benefit and my own. She is doing great in kindergarten, I can’t  believe how much she can read already and how she loves to sound things out. She really can do anything she wants to do WANT being the operative term. This week we are adding color words to our list of sight words, she pretty much knows them but I thought we could do some fun activities and Miss thing (my 8-year-old) has to do a color wheel this week and well it’s fall and those are my favorite colors coming around… so I thought it was perfect.

I decided to have her make a color book. Se loves making books and I”m really trying to do this enrichment stuff led by her interest. Each page was a different color and she was going to write ” I see a ______________   _______________. ” She was going to fill in the color of the paper and add an object to the sentence. She already knows the sight words I, see, a, an, and all the _at family words so I thought with a little help she could make a book she could feel proud of. She did black first great – she just forgot a… no big deal I was helping her
Next I wrote I see a black cat. and then under it I wrote I see an orange… and it was all over. Mom it’s a orange. Then I told her about the word an which she had already learned how to read and that this is what an is used for. It goes before naming words that start with a vowel. Which are all terms she can understand. She threw a fit. I mean an all out hissy fit. She screamed ” I will not write that and you can’t make me!” It was crazy and illogical and had some more screaming in it. Normally I’d loving say ooh we need to calm down let’s go up stairs and have some alone time, but I’ve been reading AHA parenting. It’s an amazing read. It makes so much sense. I struggle with big feelings, and that’s why I can be passive aggressive and try to eat away my feelings… I don’t want to do that to my girls… I want to handle this situation right so here goes.

So here’s how it went down. She is literally screaming, stamping and yelling about how she won’t write an and I can’t make her. (This is a true story, and  it was as surreal as it sounds.) THese are the tips Dr. Laura gives..1. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that there is no emergency.  2. Remind yourself that tantrums are nature’s way of helping small people let off steam3. Remember that anger comes from our “fight, flight or freeze” 4. Set whatever limits are necessary to keep everyone safe, while acknowledging the anger and staying compassionate  5. Set limits on actions only, not on feelings.  6. Keep yourself safe.  7. Stay as close as you can.8. Don’t try to reason or explain.  9. Don’t try to evaluate whether he’s over-reacting.  10. Acknowledging her anger will help her calm down a bit.
Sadly I didn’t have them with me but I remembered quite a few. I talked calmly and quietly and stated that I understood that the word didn’t sound as good to her as a. I said that it’s not fun to not want to do something, I stayed close, I let her be mad. But I did mess up one part I tried to explain “an” thinking maybe she’d understand… big mistake mentioning “an” set her off all over with more passion (seriously I was thinking in my head is this really happening?) I did acknowledge her anger. Finally I just hugged her and didn’t say anything and it took another 20 minutes till she calmed down… but now I’m at a point of what do I do now. She needs to learn to use the word “an”. She also needs to learn that just because she doesn’t like something doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to do it. What happens when she’s no longer homeschooled and has to do what her teacher says. I’m a little unsure of how to go on, we ended up doing a math sheet on apples. The irony is that her word family of the week is the _an family. I have printed out about 20 activities to do with the _an family. Oh the irony is not going to be lost on her, she’ll be annoyed and might throw another fit just because of it. But I’ll press on. Today for my own sanity we are going to avoid the an word even as an ending and begin again tomorrow.

My take away: It’s true kids can’t listen to reason or make good choices when they are throwing a fit and punishing them more for that reason is just continuing the cycle. They need to learn coping methods for calming down. This little girl likes hugs (it was a little funny to see her internal struggle of wanting a hug and not wanting to be nice to me). I’ve learned that she is stubborn and doesn’t want to conform just because you say so and hopefully as an adult this will be a great quality that will have her thinking out of the box and maybe keep her from negative peer pressure. But alas for now it is to be parented and reigned in. I know what I’m about to say next is a bit controversal, but I want her to be able to obey. I want her to question, but to be able to be obedient to her parents. We are loving and caring parents that have always loved, admitted our mistakes, and never ever spank. She needs to trust us and obey us. The word an is a part of the English language and she needs to learn how to use it. It’s my job to teach her and just because she doesn’t like it doesn’t mean she can just choose to ignore it. Just like she can’t choose to ignore safety rules, or rules about how to treat others. Sometimes we have to do things we disagree with because they are the right thing to use!

After she calmed down we tried to brain storm solutions..

My idea… lets write it an  with the n being really small so she can show it that she disagrees but is still writing it the write way and that she would still be learning how to use it in the correct way.
She vetoed that idea.

Her idea… She could write two books one the way I want and one the way she wants, but then she added in a not great tone “but I’m only going to read the one with a”. I told her that statement was meant to be unkind and we don’t talk unkind to each other.  (Just so you know at this point I’m on the point of losing it and that my nice voice really sounds like it’s on the edge of me screaming even though it’s really quiet.)

I said maybe we aren’t quite ready to share yet while we are still angry so let’s do something fun, I read her a story for her reading word pages. Then it was break time.

I am not sure what tomorrow brings or if I’m ridiculous for feeling – Oh she will learn to use the word an, but it’s how I feel and Dr. Laura says we should validate feelings. And that is what this blog post is doing for me.. writing it out is feeling validating… also I’m really up for suggestions. Also I really wished I could have video taped her all and out fit because i know my words don’t do it justice. But really all I want is to say thank you to Dr. Laura or helping me from keeping that girl in her room til she calmed down teaching her that I can’t deal with her big feelings, because even though I really don’t know the right way to deal with them I want her to know that I want to try to deal with them with her and that I want her to learn how to work through them, and that it’s okay to have them.

Please check out AHA parenting.. .this is not a sponsorship – she has no idea who I am…

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12 Responses to “The day my daughter lost her sh*@! over the word an”

  1. Kerin September 30, 2013 at 1:52 pm # Reply

    Oh wow! You were defiantly nicer than I would ever be! Way to handle it:)

    • Kelly September 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm # Reply

      It defintiely didn’t feel like I should be commended on how I handled it. I appreciate so much your encouragement!!! I could totally go for a nice long run listening to my audiobook!

  2. Natalie F September 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm # Reply

    Very thought provoking post. I totally agree with you about the need of boundaries, respect and ability to obey. As a society, we are losing it. I am interested in reading AHA parenting, but I personally believe that we already coddle our kids A LOT. We have occasional “run ins” with our very gifted daughter who thinks she is smarter than her parents and doesn’t have to listen to our opinions. No, we don’t use AHA parenting, we use timeouts for both sides to calm down and think about a better way to handle this situation. Usually she calms down and listens – only then we hug, kiss and make up. Interestingly, lately we observe her using something what we tried to explain – apparently she can learn even while being angry and non-cooperative.

    • Kelly October 3, 2013 at 6:40 am # Reply

      I do think kids are less and less obedient of authority, but also less scared giving them the option to think out side the box or disregard. I want her to know htat she needs to be obedient that she has rules to follow, but I also want her to be a girl who can figure out truth. I’m sure we will still use time outs in some sense we have been for years, but I think my AHA moment was when I realized I was sending her away when her feelings were big, and what does that teach. We ended up giving her a consequence since she took time away from school and my oldest she had to help me clean up and fix dinner later so I could help her older sister with more school.

  3. Sally September 30, 2013 at 5:06 pm # Reply

    She sounds a lot like my five year old. In fact, as I was finishing reading your post, she looked up from a book she was reading and asked “why is the word know spelled with a ‘k’? “. Languages can be so frustrating and illogical sometimes, but reading with English rules can be a lot easier than writing with them. I like your solution of cooling down with reading and break time.
    Your description of the big emotional episode of stubbornness sounds so familiar, we have a lot of those too, over similarly troublesome major/minor topics. Sigh. Keep up the good work.

    • Kelly October 3, 2013 at 6:36 am # Reply

      I hope this means that we are all raising a generation of strong independent women!

  4. Susie September 30, 2013 at 9:30 pm # Reply

    Thx for your post. This situation sounds all too familiar between me and my 1st grader. She’s smart, an independent learner, a perfectionist and is easily frustrated. She is such a sweet girl until someting sets her off…then it’s a fit of anger and yelling (and sometimes unkind words), and it only gets worse if I try to help her or explain things. I was so worried about how she would do last year in K, but there was not one single behavior episode with her all year. In fact her teacher acted surprised when I would explain my struggles trying to help her with her homework. I simply learned to back off. The only thing I can think of is that she ‘conforms’ to the rules of the classroom and knows that she can’t act like she does with me. It’s the power of numbers. I’m still trying to figure out if she’ll outgrow these tantrums. It’s definitely partly my reactions/actions…I’ve tried so many things…maybe I need to read up on AHA parenting. Keep up the hard work as teacher and momma…not sure how you do it!!!

    • Kelly October 3, 2013 at 6:35 am # Reply

      I changed the book to read I see the orange orange. We used the in the place of a and an for all of the colors and she had a great time. Your words ring true in my ears… will she ougrown this, is it because of how I react? I think I”m just going to be strict with the times where she seems to be disobedient and not at times where it seems like she is just disagreeing… here goes.

  5. Debbie Feely October 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm # Reply

    Kelly, I can’t find any way to contact you directly, but may I please feature your Engineering Spy Girls on my blog?


  6. Colleen October 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm # Reply

    I came across your blog from a comment you had left on Chatting at the Sky about your spy girls missions. What a fabulous and fun idea. I have enjoyed reading your posts and wanted to encourage you in what you are doing. Good on you for creating the art that is you. Be’YOU’tiful.

    • Kelly October 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm # Reply

      Colleen, thank you so much for those words, they were very encouraging. Sadly, sometimes it’s so nice to hear that what you make is art. I love your blog, your photography is amazing!

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