Because kids can drive you bonkers in the most special of ways. And by “you”, I also mean “me.” So here are some ideas of how to cope when your little one (or big one) gets under your skin like nobody else.
I realized after I wrote the title that it sounds like one of those Fox specials (“When Animals Attack!”). But I’m sticking with it because sometimes family time can feel just that scary.
Okay, maybe not that scary. But I know for myself that sometimes I feel a little anxious before embarking on a family excursion, especially one with more ambition (you drive farther, you pay higher admission prices, you up the ante because today is going to be SO MUCH FUN!)
And then it’s not. But maybe it can be salvaged. Here are some thoughts on how.
This blog post has been percolating since the report that Chris Christie himself commissioned “exonerated” him, while doing a character assassination on Bridget Kelly, his former deputy chief of staff (and, it appears, his chosen scapegoat for BridgeGate. Hell, BridgeGate even has most of “Bridget” right in the name! Case closed!)
Anyway, Rachel Maddow first pointed out the slut-shaming aspect of the report, which painted Bridget as an unstable, oversexed woman scorned. And even a Fox news analyst agreed. And though my daughter is two and still in diapers, the culture in which we live will increasingly shape who she is and how she sees herself.
So what might the psychological impact be on her, and her cohorts?
This feels like an especially relevant topic for me at the moment. I haven’t written this blog for over a week because I just plum forgot. Life got away from me. In trying to juggle so many roles (mother, therapist, writer, wife, blogger…), sometimes things just drop. I imagine some of you reading feel similarly.
So I offer the following tips with full recognition of just how hard it is to do them. You know the old saying: Those who can’t do, write mental health blogs.
But maybe they can help you perform your juggling act a bit better.
It’s not an easy proposition. An essential parenting duty is to teach, and to facilitate growth. That involves change. But sometimes, we might find ourselves trying to mold instead, and we might also find our kids fighting back.
What’s the difference between molding and teaching? And what does it mean to truly accept your child?
But awareness is where better starts. So here we go:
1) Doing too much for your toddler.
What I mean is, doing what they should be learning to do for themselves. An example would be picking up their toys for them as they flounce on to the next thing, instead of insisting that every time, they clean up first.
I’m guilty of this one sometimes. It just seems like too much work to make her do it, and she seems so happy and excited about the next thing. What’s the harm ,really?
2) The harm is the inconsistency. We’re teaching our kids all the time, even when we don’t realize it.
Behavior modification is a regular part of life. We’re teaching children how to treat us and others by what we pay attention to and what we ignore.
A basic rule of behavior modification is this: Behaviors that are intermittently reinforced are the most resistant to change. What that means is, if I tell my daughter to do something and I let her ignore me 20% of the time, then she might try to get away with it 100% of the time. She’s learning that it works sometimes, so why not try her luck? This could be one of those times.
That’s why it is important to have her put her toys away 100% of the time. It’s the rule; she has to follow it, even if I feel tired. Because I don’t want her to learn that when Mommy’s tired, she can just do whatever she wants.
And always remember, they’re smart cookies, these toddlers. Like I said, learning all the time, just not necessarily what we’re trying to teach.
3) Using redirection all the time, and avoiding a simple “no.”
It’s hard to say no to your toddler. For one thing, they often don’t take it well (tantrums and the like). For another, we like to see our kids happy, and “no” is not likely to produce that …
Many parents can see their teens floundering, but aren’t sure what to do about it. They might overdo and become intrusive (which causes their children to want to push them away) or underdo (not say anything and just hope the problem goes away.)
I’ve got some suggestions about how to walk the middle ground and emotionally connect with your teenager.
When I was trying to get pregnant, I saw happy parents and children everywhere. I saw what I most wanted for myself.
Now that I am a parent, I notice how stressed parents of young children often seem. And I know myself just how demanding (and frankly, tedious) parenting can feel. There’s so much to get done, and it leaves much less time for what I imagined the rewards to be.
So what if the mundane tasks can be made more rewarding? What if instead of waiting for the good stuff, those tasks can become the good stuff?
This seems to be the eternal question whenever something’s wrong with your child. They’re lagging behind other kids; they’re biting; they’re not social; they’re failing classes; they’re getting into drugs.
(Yes, you’ll notice that short list spanned the ages.)
That’s because whatever age your child is, he or she will likely have some problems. And when they do, you may very well ask yourself that timeless question: Is it my fault?
I received this e-mail in response to my recent post, The Parent I Want to Be:
“What about when you know you’re not the parent you want to be, but you just can’t seem to do anything about it? I have a teenage daughter and despite all my good intentions, I just keep getting sucked into doing the same old things that never work. Any thoughts?”