This Thanksgiving weekend, I have had some time to see family and get some R&R (mainly due to others being around to take the boys). But I will admit, I found myself annoyed by hearing the phrase “These boys are bad” a couple of times too many.
I am ashamed to say, that my knee jerk reaction was agreement. It’s like, “Ah, so you see what I have to deal with…you feel my pain!” Yet the truth of the matter is, that is a bold-faced lie against my children. It is not fair to them…and just because I fail to recognize that, does not make it any better in the least.
The truth is my boys are toddlers. At the ages of 3 and 2, they are still learning about themselves and the world around them. Couple this with the constant interaction that they have with each other. The result is a perfect recipe for them to push boundaries and exercise the limits of their unique personalities.
Toddlers that Misbehave is Completely Normal
No human being is born knowing all of the answers. We all need to learn and to be taught how to do things….and this includes how to behave. I notice that my boys are the most defiant with me, telling me ‘not’ or ‘I don’t want to’ or ‘leave me alone’ at the drop of a hat. With other women, they are more hesitant, but it does come out from time to time. But with men? Usually not. Whenever a grown man speaks sternly to my boys they listen and comply right away (they may be mad about it or upset/cry….but they do it). What this tells me is that they all know how to be obedient. They are intimidated by their fear of a large man and what they will do if they don’t obey. They do not have this same fear of their mommy….no matter how much I yell and scream. So for me, I need to focus on being consistent with correcting bad behavior….and letting them learn the consequences of their actions. It will work, but it will take time.
When it comes to tantrums, those are also normal; even if they are completely embarrassing for adults. 2 and 3 year old children have very little control over their emotions and when they boil up to a certain level, then they overwhelm their bodies physically as well. Me yelling or beating them while they are having a tantrum is only going to add fuel to the fire. So you may roll your eyes and me and my son who is kicking and laid out on the floor all you want. The fact of the matter is, nothing is going to improve until his emotions get back under control. For public courtesy, If we are in public, I will move my boy(s) away from others that they may be disturbing. But other then that, it is what it is.
Black Boys Face a Stigma Early On of ‘Being Bad’
A little piece of me dies inside when I think of how much American society disrespects Black men and has such low expectations of them. As early as preschool, Black boys battle a bias of having behavior problems. Then, as they grow up, Black mothers tend to overcompensate for the external threat of a society that hates their boys. Instead of imparting love and guidance, they instill fear and disrespect them. It is reminiscent of how slave masters treated their slaves in order to keep them subservient…and it is truly disgusting. No one can become a productive and successful adult if they do not have self confidence. As a parent, you do not instill self-confidence by hitting your child upside the head or calling them a dumb ass.
My Boys Love To Play – And I Am OK With That
When we moved, I made it a point not to lug along a lot of toys with us. My boys have two trunks of toys…and that’s it. They also have a good amount of books (thanks to PJ Library), an iPad and a basketball hoop. But more importantly, they have a lot of room to run around. As soon as we get home, at least 2 of them will take off running. They chase each other and run around a scream and yes, there is falling and crying a lot of the time. But I’m fine with that. Because they will have many, many years of sitting and being sedentary when they get older (like me) God willing. For now, I am all about them running around and playing games. They also do a good job of rotating their activities on their own….between running around, and reading books and screentime.
“Play is really the work of childhood”Fred Rogers
Thanks But No Thanks
I know that people do not have any malice when they tell me that my boys ‘are bad’. My guess is that they see themselves as an outside voice that is trying to help me gain some perspective and save the ship before it sinks. But in the end, what does this revelation really accomplish? Are you going to pull a Super Nanny and come home with us and help turn my boys into perfect little angels? The truth is if I am a bad mother, then it is going to take a lot more then your verbal heads up to make things better. What actually would make an impact would be if you actually went up to my boys and offered to play with them. You could also talk to them and after some interaction, tell them how good they are at a task…or how smart they are. Or compliment them on their new toy…or how nice their shirt or hat looks on them. These positive messages that they receive will boost their self-esteem…and are worth their weight in gold in regards to helping them feel good about themselves and increase their desire to be ‘good little boys’.