This gets me only so far, as sometimes my intuition makes me want to crush my child like a bug. Which I don’t actually want to do.
In these situations, I may reach for certain parenting books, the ones I know have resonated with me before, or at least I will try to bring their precepts to mind. Usually this means that I must take a “time out” to centre myself, remember how I want to be, and then try again to be that way. And before all that, I almost invariably should take a nap.
Parenting “experts” cash in on parental insecurity for lots of reasons, including the fact that you look kind of dumb as a parent if you try to argue against, let’s say, resilience or accomplishment or character (whatever that means). You can’t lure me to do that, but you also can’t lure me to buy parenting books advocating that I try to instill such things into my children either. I am much more interested in books that help me focus on being the parent I want to be, rather than raising a preferred type of child.
This is where the intuition gig kicks back in. I know I have misbehaved (as defined by me) in the presence of my children when I feel bad about my parenting. So if I yell at them when really something else is bothering me (like sleeplessness or life chaos or not finishing that project I promised myself I would), I am left not just with a feeling of having behaved below my expectation, but also in a way that is not actually me. When this happens, the best advice is to apologize, and spend some time trying to get to a place where I feel more like myself.
If, on the other hand, my son picks up the dining room curtain and puts its fringe in his dinner, as happened last night, and I tell him sharply not to do it, I don’t feel that bad. I briefly considered whether I should have been more patient, as it was the first trespass involving curtains; but there are a lot of these antics going on, and in the end, I decided it was fine to expect my 4 year old not to mix fabrics with food.
It may seem too harsh to you, I may be too lax for your neighbour. But it’s me who has to live with it, and I can.
(And I am quite sure my son will have the resilience to try another dinnertime trick very soon.)