As a parent, every day you're faced with the choice of how to parent numerous times/day whether you realize it or not. The 3 y/o has a massive meltdown and you have to choose to ignore it, redirect, address it, or discipline it. I've written before how important it is to assess each situation that arises because sometimes you can easily "cure" the problem by realizing that they are just really hungry or tired or stressed & all it takes is a snack or a kind word to calm them. People who feel bad, act bad... so sometimes it's as easy as a gentle reminder and hug to calm them down.
Last night I ran into such a situation. My 4 y/o was completely melting down over the fact that my 9 y/o wouldn't talk her before they went to sleep. Lights out had already happened and 9 y/o was sleepy from a sleepover the night before. I was already in bed because I haven't been feeling well... gluten withdrawal. Matt went in and tried to calm 4 y/o down, but she wasn't having it, so I went in. I realized that over the past 2 days we have been out of the house 14 hrs on Friday & 8 on Saturday. Late nights and crazy schedules had pushed her over the edge. So I scooped her up in my arms and carried her downstairs. I rocked her and sang to her as she clung to me. Within 30 seconds I felt her body relax. Within 3 minutes I heard her soft sleepy breathing. Withing 5 minutes she was completely out. I carried her upstairs and tucked her in where her sister was already fast asleep.
I realized how differently that could have gone if I had gotten upset with her (which has happened, believe me!) or if I had told 9 y/o to talk to her for a while. It could have changed the whole situation. I've always tried to make a point of calmly putting the kids to bed at night. Oh, we've had those frustrating nights where I'm ready to pull my hair out, but I feel that kids get a deeper & most restful sleep if their bedtime is calm & relaxing. *I* certainly don't sleep well if I'm full of turmoil.
I'm just thankful that we, as parents, have the ability to assess each situation individually and go from there. There's no absolute rule that you must do 'x' every time the child does 'y'. Don't believe it when the books tell you there is. Each child, each situation, each parent is different than another, so why would there be one "pat answer" to fix everything?! Consistency, Grace, Discipline & Kindness.... those will get you far in parenting in my opinion.