The Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light System And Drawing Anger As Tools

Michael has evolved a new way of expressing his anger. It came out yesterday when he was mad at me as I coaxed him to walk quicker when started drizzling on our way home. Michael did not care about the rain and did not want to go inside. He responded with:

“I’m angry at you Mommy. I’m going inside to make my light system on paper. You’re in yellow.”

“You know Michael why can’t you listen to me the way you listen to your teacher? I think I’m going to tell her about this and ask her what she does differently than me?”

Oops. I brought up school. Wrong move. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them.

“Please don’t tell my teacher. She’ll put me in yellow and tell me to listen to you. I don’t like that. I’m going to go make my system and put her in yellow too!”And he stormed off.

Again, I had one of those moments of pride that he was translating his feelings into words and even wanted to illustrate them and did, along with anger that he was trying to order me around with a system they use at his school, red, yellow, green light. Red being the equivalent of a time out, yellow being you’re on dangerous ground of getting in trouble, and green you’re behaving nicely. I sighed. Now he was mad at the teacher because of me. It was going to be a long night.

“You’re not mad at your teacher, Michael. You’re mad at me. We don’t use that system here. That’s at school. I’m sorry you’re angry Michael. Why don’t you go calm down and we can talk about it.”

He huffed and left to make his angry notes to his teacher and me.

Last night was one of my less than perfect parenting moments. I was tired, knew Michael would be tired too as it had been an extremely busy weekend, and it was hot out. Hot weather brings out his temper quicker than usual. I took comfort in the way he was relating expressing his anger now in drawing or writing (his scribbles), and the calming effect it had. I too am growing and learning along with him. I would have beat myself up mercilessly over handling things less than perfectly with Michael a year ago. Now, I see I am a human being with flaws, good qualities, and that, like Michael, I can learn from my mistakes, and even see the humor in some of the harder moments. He is funny writing his ‘upset lists’. I did that too, as a kid.

What do your less than favorable parenting moments teach you about yourselves, Moms? How have you learned and grown from them for the better? If you find you still beat yourself up, don’t. Reach out to Moms around you and compare notes. I assure you we’ve all made our share of mistakes and are learning from our kids every day to become better parents. It’s a humbling job, but one I’m sure none of us would trade for anything else in the world for the way it has made us grow as human beings. Until next time.

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