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I’ll start off by saying this: Your child is not the one who needs to change . . . you are.

It took me two and a half years to figure that out. Now keep in mind, I don’t have a child who I can just look at and she knows to stopyou know, that look mothers give their children when they’re doing something wrong.

In fact, she has a look she gives me just before she does something she knows is naughty. She’ll stop, look back, squint her eyes, and bam! before you know it, she’s knocked something over.

Don’t get me started on bedtime. It gives me so much anxiety. Some nights, it takes her two hours to get to sleep. And in those two hours, crying and screaming, tossing and turning, you name it, the whole shebang.

So, what did I do to make her a “well-behaved” child? I changed. I changed my way of thinking. I cut back on the yelling. I practiced breathing. I practiced affirmations (this is what really helped).

RELATED: I’m Raising a Firecracker of a Daughter

One day, I was upset. I wasn’t just upset, I was furious, and I yelled and I moaned. And then I stopped. I don’t want to be that mom who yells constantly at her kids. I took a step back and asked myself, “What can I do to change this?”

I repeated these affirmations over and over: I am a calm mother. I am a gentle mother. I am an understanding mother. (Repeat 634,646,849,687,968,435,163,546,456,546 times)

As I repeated these words, my breath became steady. And every time I’m struggling with the “naughtiness” of the terrible twos, I repeat this to myself, breathing calmly. And honestly, it’s worked. Apparently, you are what you eat? Well, it works for words too. You are what you speak.

“I am a parent. I am a mother. And I am here to guide my sweet little one in life. She’s her own person, and I want her to thrive.” -Me

RELATED: Raising a Spirited Child Stretches Us in Ways We Can’t Explain

However, I’m still a human being going through the craziness of these human emotions. I still get frustrated and yell. And if you still do that, you haven’t failed as a mom. Step back, repeat the affirmations, breathe, and I promise you’ll start feeling a lot calmer.

Children are the epitome of the saying, “Monkey see, monkey do.” In order to help our children, we need to model calm and gentle behavior. I’m not promising that it’ll completely change your child, but it will help them in the long run. And it’ll help you, especially while you’re going through the mad motions of parenthood.

Our little babies are just that—babies. These tiny little creatures enter the world with only the knowledge of how to suckle. As they grow, they explore the world. With no knowledge of how anything works, they experiment. They’re always pushing boundaries, seeing how far they can take things. And this is all normal “little” person behavior. Good luck on your journey. I know it’s hard. But it’ll get better, I promise.

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Shana Kim Smith

Shana is a freelance writer born in Cape Town, South Africa. Part-time writer, part-time makeup artist, and full-time mom to a "spirited" toddler. She spends her days making the house a home while writing in between the messiness that is motherhood. She hopes to one day live on a farm and live like it's the 1700s (with the added benefits of antibiotics in the modern age).

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