Being a parent is hard! There are some days that are easier and then there are some really difficult days! The good thing is, there are usually a few really good moments of each day! And those little moments are enough for us to wake up and keep going the next day- along with our kids coming to the side of the bed and waking us up! 😊
What I have found is that there are a few things that we can change in our lives that may make parenting a little easier and our children being a little more kind to us. When this happens, there may be a shift and we start to notice more good than difficult!
What I have found is that they way that I speak to Anna makes a huge difference in her response to what is going on around her. Kyle and I first started being aware of what our words mean when she was just a little baby and I read an article that discussed the way that we console a crying baby. When you tell a newborn when they cry that “You’re fine” or “it’s okay”, are we really honoring their feelings. We are not sure what they are feeling at that point and who are we to say that they are fine when their tummy might be a little upset or they might be hungry or tired? We tried at that point to no longer use those words with our children and instead let them know that we were there for them and that we would try to get them what they needed to help make them more content. We have continued to focus on other words as well as Anna has grown and Jane has joined the family.
Calm down -à How can I help you?
Stop crying à I can see this is hard for you.
You’re okay à Are you okay?
Be quite à Can you use a softer voice?
Don’t hit à Please be gentle
Don’t get upset à It’s okay to feel sad
Do you need help? à I am here to help if you need me.
These phrases can be very hard to change but when they are, I feel that our children value what we are saying and they understand how to better process their emotions. This leads to better communication down the road which will lead to more trust and understanding as our kids grow and face other struggles in the world.
Another key component for helping our kids express themselves well is to not overschedule them and to allow them to be bored and have creative time. This can be very difficult in our current world where it is all about having your child involved in all of the lessons, practices, clubs and playdates. But allowing them to be at home with their toys, or without many toys at all, will allow for them to figure out how to use their time. This will allow for them to be creative and use their imagination, which from what I have read, is a really important skill for kids! 😉 So next time you plan some activity for your child, think about their current schedule and if they already have a lot going on, it may be best to pass on it for the time being and come back to it in the future. This will allow your child to figure out their own likes and dislikes and express themselves properly!
One final thought on how to help make the hard days a little easier is not comparing your child to other children! All children grow and develop at their own rates and when we interfere, we are limiting them from doing what they do best- being themselves! We need to trust in our child (the way we want them to trust in us) and their bodies ability to achieve the next physical milestone. Yes, we need to take into account how much other children are eating and make sure that our child is getting adequate nutrition, but if one child is eating in a different way than your child, is it worth stressing over? And if your child is not sleeping well, is it beneficial for us as parents to compare to other children who may be sleeping well? And the way that our children develop their movements and speech, yes they are important milestones, but is it worth us stressing over? The answer is no, because it causes us to question not only our parenting ability, but our child’s abilities. And when we do this, we are possibly making them doubt their own abilities which may lead to them having low self-worth. So, if there is a milestone that your child has not yet reached, change how you talk about it, especially when you are talking in front of the child! They comprehend way more than we sometimes give them credit for and our words affect them!
So next time you are having a hard day as a parent, first remember that you are not alone, and then think about how you are speaking to your child, if they are possibly feeling overwhelmed by being too busy or if you are setting too high of expectations for them! Once you have worked on a few of these items, hopefully parenting will become a little less hard (I still cannot say it will be easy 😊)!