As is often the case, I was in Target the other day and witnessed an incident that made me cringe just a tad. A little guy of about three years old was sitting in the child's seat of the cart and he reached over and grabbed a small item from that dollar section at the front of the store. The mom aggressively grabbed the item and angrily said " NO !" , slapped his hand and shoved the crayon pack back onto the shelf. The little guy immediately looked at me since I was so close to them and the bottom lip started pooching. I looked away as fast I could to soften the sting of how he was feeling. I knew that he was aware of what his mom just did, and that I saw it all and he was feeling very self conscious.

I am not at all against this mom not allowing her toddler to have something that she didn't want him to have. In fact, I wish more parents would be firm and say " no " now and then to the incessant whining at check out counters. My issue was her tone. It was harsh...no other way to describe it. Let's face it - parenting is the hardest job on the planet. Those kiddos will get on your last nerve and try your patience to it's breaking point. When kids are squeezing the maple syrup into an already spilled puddle of milk as you are already late in getting out the door for school, a sweet smile and rosey response is hard to come up with...I get it. My point is that as parents, the strained and snippy responses should be the exception and not the rule.

DId I always succeed in this area when our treasures were growing up ? Hardly

Just ask any of my kids...I most definitely had my " not proud of " moments as did my husband. Hopefully however, there were more responses that were handled with humor and patience as that was always the goal.

One motto I tried to hold to when we were in the trenches of child rearing was " DON"T MAJOR ON THE MINOR ". That simply means that your two year old reaching out and lifting a colorful crayon packet from a shelf in Target isn't going to end the world. Yes, you can take it away from him, but do so with a kind expression and say something like " We don't want to take things that we aren't going to buy " in a tone that doesn't sound like the wicked witch of the west. Just keep the balance meter in check is all I am saying because trust me , there are incidents awaiting you in that little guy's life later on that will actually justify a more impatient response on your part - reaching out for crayons just isn't one of them.

My point is that you change the nature of  your relationship with your little one when they mostly see you frustrated or angry with them as opposed to laughing and enjoying them. It is not always an easy balance to strike but one which every mom and dad should be striving for.

I remember a trick that I used over and over when my kids were all very young. If I was about to respond harshly, I would try to take three deep breaths and silently count in my head as I did and just those few seconds would help me to keep my attitude in check before I spoke .....or wrung their neck.  ( ha )

Those munchkins are little only once. They need you to be patient with them. They need you to see the funny in life. They need you to laugh sometimes when you don't feel like doing so. They need you to be their " soft place to fall " as well as their strong hand to guide.

GIve it some thought -
....and smile when you're thinking :)