Thank you to all of you that shared your tips and advice from my somewhat desperate letter to my daughter last week. What helps the most is talking with other mothers who experience the exact same behaviors. After feeling especially terrible as a parent, sitting and chatting with stranger moms at ballet, who also lose their patience and regrettably scream at their kids, reminded me I am not alone in this parenting journey. From this I have concluded that nobody has a perfect child.
Since then my daughter's behavior has improved drastically and I have learned some helpful tips to share with you.
1. The Chart. This may be the oldest trick in the book as I remember my mom making one for me in my youth. There are numerous behavior charts you can print off online or it is easy to make your own. Get your child involved in decorating and hanging to get them excited about it. We read each line item and discussed examples of Good Manners etc. over and over again until she could not wait until it was time to put stickers on the chart.
Consistency is also very important. Every night at the same time we review the chart and put the stickers on. A bonus is I made one for my older boy too, and although he resisted and said he didn't care, he sure cares when the times comes to put the stickers on at night.
Last week my daughter and I would battle over picking up a crayon, this week she is cleaning her room before I even ask.
My lesson: Kids love consistency and rewards.
2. Positive Attention. In retrospect I realize I was not around as much as I used to be. Still getting used to MS and my husband's constant demand to nap, I admittedly was sneaking into my room leaving my little girl alone to play. I now see she wanted to spend time with me and when she acted out, she was getting my attention even though it was negative.
Kids need their parents. Since then we have done little things such as art projects, cooking together and playing haircut. The big difference now than before is I am really there. I'm not looking at my phone, computer, folding laundry or cooking dinner and I'm getting more hugs and reminded how much I love this little girl.
My lesson: Kids need us to be present (also known as put away the electronics).
3. Stay Calm. It makes sense, our little ones feed off our emotions. When I read this quote by Susan Stiffleman in the extremely helpful book Parenting Without Power Struggles a light bulb went off in my head and something changed for me, which in turn adjusted my relationship with my daughter.
"When our children perceive us as steady and calm -regardless of their moods or behavior-they can relax, knowing they can rely on us to get them through the challenging moments of their lives."
This was eye opening to me because the tantrums are the challenging moments in my little girls life. She is looking to me to get her through the fact she cannot buy Fruity Pebbles at the grocery store. It is my job to teach her to understand that there are other healthier options as well as ways to deal with frustration.
My lesson: Kids replicate our behavior.
4. Accept Help. It really does take a village and the more adult role models in my children lives the better. We parents deserve a break too. Sometimes we spend so much time taking care of our children, we forget to take care of ourselves.
After reading my post, my saint-like mom offered to take my girl for an afternoon and it was just what we all needed - a break.
My lesson: I don't need to do it all
Parenting is hard. Just when I think I've figured out the age and stage my little ones are a part of, they grow up and move onto the next one. Please continue to share any tips, advice or frustrations you experience while raising your children. You might be helping another struggling mother.
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