Taking Care of You: Decoding Your Child’s Behavior

Jen Gaskell


This post is part of our Taking Care Of You series in partnership with HelloFlo and VProud’s Master Classes. Master Classes were born out of the belief that all women should have access to vetted health and parenting information via doctors and experts, rather than search engines. This post contains affiliate links.

As a mom of younger children, I look to my mom friends, blogs, books, websites and my family members to help me navigate parenthood. I chose the class Decoding Your Child’s Behavior based on the opening line. “Have you ever felt like you are living with an alien?” I shouted “Yes!” As a mom of daughters, I thought that I understood the female brain very well. Some days I feel like I cannot relate to either of my daughters. I have no idea what they need or what they want. Even though I gave birth to them, I feel like I am not being heard or understood. Where is my motherhood manual? What do you mean I am doing this without a guide or a life preserver?

My biggest parenting challenge is the morning routine. Mornings continue to be a struggle for my daughters and me. All three of us take a while to wake up. Our mornings are not leisurely. We are in a state of constant motion to ensure that they make it to school on time and that I make it work on time. I am mentally and physically exhausted by the time I drop them off. I try to do games to make the routine fun. I try to hurry them along, but they cannot be rushed. I plead for my girls to move with a sense of urgency. I realize how ludicrous that piece of corporate lingo sounds when I am addressing my young daughters.

My lightbulb moment came courtesy of Dr. Sandra Mann when she stated that the pre-adolescent brain has no ability for rational thinking. My girls react because they are only five and eight years old. It is so easy to think of our children as older than they really are. As a mom, I am my girls’ first teacher. I need to model the behavior that I want them to imitate. My girls tell me frequently during the morning rush that I am yelling at them. I am not a perfect mother by any means. I do lose my temper and patience, and I yell at my girls.

Why do the girls feel like I am yelling when I am not? It is my tone of voice which impacts them so much. I am unable to detect my own tone which is a serious blind spot. I reflected on this more, and I realized that I have physical tells when I use that sharp tone of voice. My jaw clenches, my whole body tightens, and my lips are pressed together in a thin line. I need to pay attention to those physical sensations and give myself a mommy timeout. I need to physically step away from the girls so that I can respond and react appropriately. Some deep breathing and yoga stretches can help me defuse that physical tension. I want my girls to remember me as a mom who tried her very best to model the type of behavior she wanted to emulate too.

Learn more about Decoding Your Child’s Behavior on HelloFlo and join the conversation on VProud.

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Jen Gaskell is a wife, mom, business professional, writer, singer, runner, and yogi. She lives in a small town in Wisconsin on beautiful Lake Michigan with her husband and two young daughters. Jen is a co-producer/co-director of Listen To Your Mother Show Milwaukee. Jen's writing can be found on her blog Tranquila Mama, and she is also a regulator contributor to Postpartum Progress.