It takes a village to raise a child (African proverb). Raising little humans is challenging. It is also an experience like nothing else in life. I’ve watched my nieces grow over the last few years and I’m so amazed at how much love you can have for these amazing little ones.
That’s not to say that I’m glad to retreat to my quiet and relatively clean home after visits with them. Parents don’t have such luck, being a parent is a 24/7 job. Aside from the occasional date night or adults only getaway, these humans are yours…every. single. day.
Kids respond best to structure and consistency. They feel most calm and comfortable when they are on a schedule and know what to predict for the day. Consider them little soldiers. They like knowing that parents will be there when they need them, where their next meal is coming from, and if you say you’re going to do something, you better do it or else!
These little people are learning how to understand and navigate the outside world and the feelings they have about it. Unlike adults, kids don’t readily have the verbal ability to express their feelings. This is why we see kids act out behaviorally instead of sitting Mom and Dad down at the dinner table and having a discussion about their day.
Sometimes we forget that the little ones don’t see and understand the world in the way we do. We get tunnel vision during times of stress and often cannot see the forest for the trees.
Here’s a few quick tips to love your child through challenging moments:
- Be cool as a cucumber: take a deep breath and see the situation from his/her perpective
- Don’t take it personally: if your child is acting out, they need something, they are not trying to ruin your moment, your day, or your life
- Delegate and ask for help: if you are too overwhelmed or busy to manage the situation, ask your spouse to help out so you can take a time out and return to the situation when you calm down
- Take care of yourself: we truly cannot take care of others if our own cup is overflowing
- Validate and set limits: acknowledge that their feelings make sense but set firm limits if they are engaging in behavior that is not acceptable
We know that play is the language of children, kids will often play out internal conflicts and feelings about the things going on in their world. This is why play therapy is such an effective treatment for kids and teens. If you and your child are struggling to connect and you feel as though your missing the mark, reach out to us to see if play therapy or family therapy could benefit you and your loved ones.