Teach by Example

I’m learning this concept the hard way.

My two year old’s stubborn spirit became evident early on. We marveled at how quickly she learned. She loved to watch Barney. Because we liked to keep her happy, we bought every DVD we could find of Barney. Downey got where she could tell us which Barney episode she wanted to watch AND insert that into the DVD player!

But like most toddlers, and children, they aren’t receptive when it comes to doing what they’re told. Singing the “Clean Up, Clean Up” song that was featured on a Barney episode soon wasn’t enough to motivate my little one to clean up her mess. She’d rather leave the mess of toys or paper/crayons and go on to the next adventure.

Though spanking may work sometimes, I feel it should be an absolute last resort.

I realized this when Downey started hitting back.

Then I began to see the temper tantrums she was throwing. Standing there screaming, hands balled in tight fists, she’d let me know she was angry – real fast!

That’s when I knew. My little angel had learned by example.

MY example.

Friends and family can be so sweet. “Christy,” they say, “you’re a good mother.”

If only they knew how many times a day I fail! Downey gets her short temper from me! (And her father, he’s not innocent in this at all!) If I had a nickel for every time during the day I stop what I’m doing – and send a sling-shot prayer up to God. “Please help me, Lord! Help me find patience! I know she’s only two, but I know she realizes she’s driving me crazy – And she’s enjoying every minute of it!” – I’d be a woman with a whole lotta nickels!

So parents, just know every word you say, your little one is listening. If you say a curse word, you’d better believe your little angel is going to repeat it the very next day. If you lose your temper, your little one is going to act out his/her frustrations in the same manner.

This weekend, I explained to Downey we don’t always get our way. At Sunday school, Downey’s friend, Carley, stole her chair and then took Downey’s toy. I feel I’m in a difficult spot – because I don’t see everything that’s happening with these kids. I miss the Carley took my toy part, or the Downey took my doll part. I’m having a hard time because I’m not just Downey’s mom, who wants to defend her as much as possible, I’m also the teacher and will be fair to all the kids. I see my daughter isn’t always right, just like me.

I’m learning about discipline (the how tos and what nots)right along with her.

I am helping Grandma realize she must use a firm tone with Downey to show our stubborn two year old that hitting Grandma is not acceptable.

Downey is not a Holy Terror. Let me assure you of this. She is a sweet child, who knows what the Bible looks like and is. She sings “Jesus Loves Me” and Barney’s “I Love You, You Love Me” song. She is learning to share. She has a sweet, tender side, that’s demonstrated in the way she cares for her dolls, feeds them, loves them. She loves her family and talks about them often, even when its been weeks that she hasn’t seen Aunt Kari, Uncle Blake and Cousin Landon. She looks forward to going to Nana’s and seeing Cousin Savannah. She loves Grandma, Paw-Paw, and Chelsea.

It’s times like this that I know I’m not screwing my child up totally. I realize something I’m doing during the day is right, even though I look over the house and the laundry’s still piled up, half-folded, there are dishes in the sink, and I’m stressed because I’ve wasted my writing time and haven’t accomplished any of my goals for the day.

Yet, I’ll never be able to return to these days when Downey lets me hold her and we watch her favorite “The Big Comfy Couch” program. (She hates for me to read to her! Gasp!)

The days when all we worry about is if we’re going to go outside and play on the swing set or blow bubbles will soon be gone.

I’m trying to remember God put Downey in my life for a reason. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, so I need to cherish every moment. Don’t sweat the small stuff and laugh when all I want to do is cry. I need to look into her eyes, touch her tiny fingers, and remember time goes way too fast.

Teach by example, and be the best example possible.

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