I know I know, stubborn child… I don’t like that word either but sometimes it feels like that is exactly what I’ve got. My three year old drives me crazy sometimes. Locking himself in a room and refusing to unlock the door for me, locking doors on the inside and then coming out locking everyone out, instigating fights by annoying his big sister for seemingly no reason at all then screaming when she reacts to him, whining all.day.long for chocolate milk (why did I even bring that into the house?!), and the nap-time struggle… don’t even get me started on that hour long process right now.
Kids are amazing and blessings and my two will probably be two of the best things I’ll ever have a hand in while I’m here. They’re also HARD and confusing and always changing. I knew there had to be a better way to deal with what I would call “the attitudes” my two give off and recently I started doing a little research to find out what I could to do help our little home feel more at peace. It’s known that kids do what they see, say what they hear, etc. I felt that if I can’t change them I can start with me and maybe my actions and reactions to them will prompt a change in their behavior.
Think Before You Speak
I have tried so hard to remind myself to think about what I am going to say to my kids instead of letting my immediate adult response take over. It’s impossible to be perfect at this but hey, I’m training myself right now, too, on how to act and parenting is never going to come easy! If I yell at my son because he locked himself in his room and won’t let me in he will be more likely to continue refusing to open the door and things will escalate from there. If I calmly challenge him to a game of, “You can’t find mommy!”, and run off an hide… shocker, he’ll come out… happily.
Work On That Temper
This is something I struggle with, especially when I am stressed or having an anxious moment or day. I struggle more and more each time I don’t get the response I’m looking for. I am so thankful to have a super calm and chill husband who can see when I’m going to lose it and takes over happily. Sometimes though, that’s not an option when he’s at work. I grew up scared of my dad because of the temper I saw growing up. Thankfully life has changed that temper and he is one of the people I’m closest to now, but I don’t want my kids being scared of me because I cant find other ways to deal with my own self.
Get On Their Level
I see a huge change in my kids when I get down to their level and talk to them. Whether they’re upset, happy, hurt, or whatever other emotion they’re experiencing at the time, they are much more receptive and comforted by me sitting or bending down to them. When I’m scolding them or explaining what they did that they shouldn’t have (hopefully in a calm way) they will be scared I’m coming across as this dictator-mommy but if I am explaining it while holding them and lovingly telling them how I feel about the situation I feel like they learn from it and are happier to continue playing or doing whatever they were doing!
Don’t Question, Listen
I read long ago that kids’ minds aren’t able to really listen and focus on something else when they’re upset. I get it, they’re crying and possibly in pain and it really IS hard to focus on someone asking what’s wrong or what happened. I have learned that if they’re upset or hurt to just hold them if they want to be held, or sit with them while they cry. Once they’re ready and able to be comforted and asked questions, I go ahead. Until then, I try to be an open ear and allow them to cope in their own way.
Give Tasks + Make It A Game
My kids hate picking up their toys or clothes or plates, or cups or…anything really, haha. I can’t stand having things on the floor all the time. Some days I’m all relaxed about it but other days I actually would like to see my floor. If I ask the kids to pick stuff up they have no interest and fight me on it k most of the time. If I make it a game and participate as well they love it! Kids love games and they love winning! Drinking water is another huge struggle for us. I have learned to make that a game, too. I stuck a sticker near the bottom of the kids’ cups and I will fill the cup with water and say, “Who can drink to the sticker first?!” They gobble that water UP! They both want to win and beat other other. I learned long ago not to offer them a reward but simply get them to challenge each other and it works!
Even as a 33 year old adult I like to be able to make a choice for myself so why wouldn’t my kids, right? Sometimes that’s not an option but a lot of times it can be and my kids love choosing. I will bring down an outfit and tell them it’s time to change and they fight me on it. If I bring two outfits down though, and tell them to choose which one they want to wear, they will no doubt choose one or the other and easily get changed into it! I call that a win!
Use The Right Words
Kids do what they hear. So for example, if they’re running at the pool and I say, “Don’t run!”, all they hear is run and they’ll keep doing it. If they hear, “We walk at the pool!”, they are way more likely to stop running and start walking. I am telling them the correct action to take without scolding them for doing the wrong or dangerous action.
Now, by no means am I a 100% perfect parent at using these tips all the time. I wish I was but I am a human and am imperfect. I can accept that. I apologize to my kids all the time for the way I act but I feel like it’s important for parents to let their kids see them make mistakes or regret how they have acted. We have the opportunity to be open and honest with these little people. I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with being vulnerable around your kids, I feel like it helps them.
Do you have a so-called stubborn child? In what ways do you parent them that has seemed to help?