Rhonda recently wrote to ask me about her pint-sized drama queen. Having three daughters myself, I would know nothing about that. *Cough*
Wondering if I can ask a question about my almost 5-year-old girl. Yikes! Drama! I love her so much, but feel like most of the time I'm pushing her away! She is beautiful and smart and such a lover of God and people. But it seems with all that passion, she's just too much for me many times.
I'm pretty self-controlled most of the time, so maybe I don't relate well. I don't know. The hardest thing for me lately is she will be sassy or do something she's not supposed to. When she gets in trouble, spank, or to her room for a few minutes, she cries and screams at me that she wants, NEEDS, a hug. At this point I'm usually upset with her, and don't particularly feel like hugging and consoling a child who has just disobeyed or disrespected me.
This happens EVERY time I reprimand her. I'm at a loss because I don't want to exasperate her or make her feel unloved, but I also don't want to negate every punishment with immediate comforting. Where is the compromise? Thanks so much. I just didn't know who to ask, but it appears that you've been through this a few times, so hoping you can share some wisdom with me.
Rhonda, I have a current drama queen who is not old enough to be interested in reading this blog, so I feel safe knowing that some day when she's bored or nursing a baby she'll read this post and hopefully smile. Or at least feel she isn't alone when her daughters start with the histrionics.
I was also raised with two brothers, and while I was a drama queen myself, I never saw my parents dealing with a sibling drama queen, so I feel I was at a disadvantage when one of my daughters in particular began to show her thespian side.
The first thing you wrote that caught my attention was, "...but feel like most of the time I'm pushing her away!" I can so relate to this. Typically, the child who needs my attention the most is the one who is repelling me by their behavior. This simply means that I absolutely cannot rely on my own devices.
I have to seek God, and ask Him to show me ways to draw that child in during the day. For our current drama queen, it's to ask her to take on more responsibility. She is one of the younger children here, so she doesn't feel very important. I can help her realize how needed and capable she is by giving her more "big kid" things to do (such as helping prep dinner).
And then you wrote, "I'm at a loss because I don't want to exasperate her or make her feel unloved, but I also don't want to negate every punishment with immediate comforting. Where is the compromise?"
I don't think there's necessarily compromise, but there is strategy. I would try to touch her lovingly during the day - a little pat on the head, a sweet hug - especially if she is a child whose love language is physical touch.
I would also sit her down next to you on the comfy couch and gently talk to her in a non-confrontational moment. Tell her that you love her immensely, and so you need to tell her something that needs to change. Tell her that she is not allowed to yell or scream at you when she is disciplined, and if she continues to do so, you will absolutely not hug her, no matter how loudly she yells for a hug.
Reassure her in the moment of discipline that you love her and there is grace and forgivenes, but that there are consquences when we make wrong choices.
If, however, she can show self control and respond respectfully to her punishment, then when you tell her she can come out of her room, you will give her the biggest hug! It's a loving gesture not meant to bribe her into good behavior but to let her see that there are blessings when we respond appropriately and respectfully.
At some point, too, I might tell her that God has set up the authority of parents because He loves us, and her yielding to you will be good practice for her yielding to God.
And of course, everything covered in the gospel. Remind her often of Whose she is and what He did for her, and that she is loved deeply by God and you, even (especially!) when she's being disciplined.