A Personal Challenge to All Parents
Confession time. I tend to write this blog with my professional hat on, keeping my personal life, personal. Today, I am writing as a mother of two very dear, but very spirited children. People tend to think since I am a School Psychologist, that I know exactly what to do in my own family, and that I should have it all together. The reality is that I have struggles just like everyone else. Sometimes, my kids just don’t listen. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed too. Sometimes, I don’t respond in the most positive manner.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to be positive. I know this from experience. While I’m usually an optimistic person, who tends to find good in situations (at least eventually), I sometimes struggle in the heat of the moment. Especially, when I am running late or stressed about something, I have much less tolerance for resistance and disobedience from my children.
In the last few weeks I’ve really been having a difficult time with the morning routine. There are a lot of procedures that need to occur efficiently in order for everyone to get to work and school on time. I do not like that I have turned into a Drill Sargent with very little patience for any deviation from the schedule. There are mornings that I tell my children to get dressed multiple times and am ignored multiple times. As the clock ticks and it’s time to rush out the door with two children (age 5 and 3) who haven’t gotten dressed yet, I become more and more negative. By the time we get to the daily “Yes you are wearing a coat- it’s 25 degrees outside!” argument with the second child, I have lost all patience. When they walk to the car, I’m behind carrying everything and making sure the door shuts, and have been known to yell “RUN!, RUN TO THE CAR, RUN!” and eventually pick up the meandering child and put her in the car at my own pace. How’s that for a start to one’s day? I don’t feel very good about those days.
Thankfully, not every morning is like that. There are also days that everyone is calm and everyone got ready (although hurriedly), but we got to school/work on time and in good spirits. Specifically I think of a day earlier this week that I handed all the clothes to my five year old and asked him to get himself dressed and see if he could help his little sister a little bit. He helped her step by step, and was extremely proud of himself. I enthusiastically praised him for his help and everyone went to school and work happy that day.
So what is the difference between the crazy mornings and the relatively calm mornings? I want to say- “my kids.” I want to say “some mornings they choose to focus on getting dressed and I don’t have to argue with them, so we are happy.” And while they do play a small part, the biggest factor is ME. I’m the difference. When I am more calm, I have the mindset to be more positive and encouraging, which the children actually respond to. When I am frantic, I think they retreat and are much more prone to act out or start throwing their own fits (about coats or shoes). Yes, there are days that my kids don’t listen the first time. However, they are 3 and 5 years old. Also, they don’t care if I am late, it means nothing to them. So, what is the main thing I can do to change our crazy mornings. It’s not a magic cure to make my kids get ready in a hurried and frantic manner that will get everyone out the door on time. The answer is getting myself up earlier, so I am not stressing about my tardiness and I can focus on helping everyone else get ready.
So here’s the challenge to all parents- Take a look at a part of your day that is prone to go poorly with your kids. Think about what you can do yourself to help change the situation. I don’t mean what your children could or should do or what you need to do to change your child. Let’s take a hard look at yourself first, and see what you can do to yourself to make a positive change in a situation. For my mornings- it’s pretty obvious- like it or not, I need to wake up earlier. I’m always saying I should wake up earlier, but that snooze button is quite tempting every morning. Since I’m blogging about it, I now have many people out there to keep me accountable. I’m thinking that if I were not rushed and frantic, then I would be more patient with my kids and able to start using more positive methods for getting them to get ready. While there is an issue that I’m being ignored sometimes- right now I’m just going to focus on making a change to myself. I’m guessing it will spill into everyone else.
Let’s all find one small thing we can do ourselves that will help be a blessing for our entire family.