Women are tired. That’s why divorce is on the rise. @ jodihealy.com
Women are tired. That’s why divorce is on the rise. @ jodihealy.com
Children need boundaries. It provides not only a sense of security but teaches them where they fit in the world. Children learn boundaries by what we do. When they are small, they are dependent on us to survive. We feed them, pick them up, help them dress and wash, herd them when we are in a rush, buckle, on and on. But at some point this must change. Many children with behavioral problems suffer because they do not understand healthy boundaries. They hit, take others things, do not want to share, do not follow rules, etc. Even though true autonomy is a slow transition as a child grows, teaching a child he/she is responsible should happen as soon as they understand they are separate from you. This empowers them to make choices and realize what we do matters. We often forget to teach a child that he/she is the boss of his/her own body, and that they are ultimately in control of what happens to them.
We often forget the wonder of life is not what we imagine, but the love we have that fuels it… Last night I had the often dreaded “Santa” question from my 9 year old. As my daughter awaited in anticipation, as if she was ready to hear the answer to life, I read her that beautiful letter a woman wrote to her daughter explaining there is not just one Santa. She looked at me seriously and said, “What does that mean?” I told her “Santa” is all of us, collectively, continuing a tradition to bring joy to children all around the world. That we each are Santa at one point in our lives. The magic is in us, what we create for others. She was relieved, ecstatic. My daughter giggled as she explained how she figured it out, finding presents in her Daddy’s closet, and was worried her father would be upset if she knew. I told her of course not, so we called him. I brought him into the conversation because despite our divorce he is still a monumental part of this for her. He listened for a while, then asked, “Are you sad?” She said “Why would I be sad?” And the giggling continued.
We hung up and continued a 2 hour conversation. She felt so proud she was now part of the “secret”, the mystery, where she could be “Santa” too. She felt trusted with something important, powerful. She promised not to tell her younger siblings or friends and even talked about how she would act so they would not figure it out. She felt grown up that she could help wrap presents and hide eggs. It was one of the most beautiful moments as a parent I have ever had. She proceeded to unravel out loud all the doubts she had over the years about all the mystical beings we filled her childhood with. That sometimes she got more money from the tooth fairy at Mommy’s than Daddy’s and it didn’t make sense. On and on, I witnessed the magic of her childhood unfold and relived. She said, “All those decorations you did”. I said, “Yes, it made me happy to make you happy”. She said Mommy, “It is even more special now that I know it is you”. I cried. How beautiful. We often forget our love is more powerful than anything, and how we show them is the most important part of their lives.
I ended with, “I will always tell you the truth, and you can ask me any question you want.” She said, “Thank you Mommy, I love you so much. Can we talk again tomorrow night?” “Of course”, as if we were a team with the wonder of the world between us. It felt as if we crossed a bridge to a higher level. I am so grateful I can be for her what I always wanted. We both went to sleep with a stronger bond, deeper than life…
Terrible two’s and three’s are actually part of the normal development cycle, and a very critical time in molding social behavior. At this time, a child starts to realize he or she is separate from you, and are trying to learn and find autonomy. This often comes with defiance, anger, and new “behavioral problems”. Where did my kind and quiet child go? Remember, they have transitioned from being inside to outside of you, but still have been at your complete dependence. Between two and three, as we encourage and praise them to walk and do things on their own, they start to recognize they are separate and have their own will, but are also still dependent. They also start to realize it is more fun to do whatever they want, and freedom is much more exciting.
Believe it or not these behavioral issues show that your child has a strong bond with you and the confidence to find his or her own self. They trust they can be who they are and you will still be there and love them. These behaviors are testing grounds for what they can and cannot do, often with feelings they are experiencing for the first time.
After going through this three times myself, I find saying, “NO” firmly and once, means NO, and not waffling. If they are misbehaving with a toy for example, simply say, “Stop or I will take it away”. If they do not stop, you do not say a word and take it away. No threats. No anger. No negotiation. When they cry, reassert the reason, “If you do “this”, I take it away”. This not only teaches consequences but it also puts the power and choice in the child’s hand. And, explaining why is critical in their understanding. Getting mad or taking it away without reason does not teach them cause and effect, or why. They need to learn boundaries and testing you is how they do it.
When it is hitting or physical danger I do time outs (they won’t sit long). If they get out, keep putting them back in without saying a word. I always explain why, “Hitting Sara is not ok. Sit here.” Set a stove timer for 1 min. I would make it less about the actual time, and instead not let them out until they were ready to say WHY they were in time out. “Why did Mommy put you in time out”? The first many times they will not want to admit it because they feel badly about what they did. They do not want to disappoint you or make you upset. But this step again teaches consequences and makes them take responsibility for hurting someone else. I would also make sure to tell them after they admitted what they did, to thank them for doing so, give them a big hug, and tell them I am proud of them and love them.
Know this phase, despite how challenging, is less about behaving badly then it is learning and experimenting with social and emotional boundaries. It certainly is one of the hardest times as a parent because it feels daunting and overwhelming, but it does pass and your sweet child is on the other side. The real challenge is ours, to be consistent, strong, understanding, and loving all at the same time. In the end it is just feelings, and they are trying to figure out what to do with them. © motherinsight.com like/share 🙂
A mother’s life is constant giving and sacrifice, in the smallest, unseen, details in a day… She leaves the door open when she goes to bathroom so she doesn’t miss a sound, just in case. She showers with no privacy, constant interruption, and questions. She gives away her last piece of chocolate because she will be as satisfied sharing, making someone else happy. She loses an hour of sleep because someone crawls in her bed at the crack of dawn. She hangs up the call with the …friend she misses terribly to change a diaper. She is the last to eat because she has to feed everyone else first. And, she stands up while eating because someone always needs a refill. She turns off her music to play something more appropriate. She goes outside instead of checking her email because someone wants to play on the swing set. She skips a needed night out because someone has a fever. She gives up her afternoon runs because soccer practice begins. She records her favorite TV show because she is too tired to watch it at night. She spends the last five dollars in her wallet to buy someone a snack, instead of her coffee. She cries at the emergency room, but not because she is the patient. She gives up her career to stay home and be a mother and doesn’t regret it once. She puts her dreams on hold because there just isn’t even time to think about them… and would never change where she is. One can never truly understand how much a mother gives of herself… until one becomes one… ©jodihealy.com like/share
A child’s behavior is a reflection of how they feel… often how they are being treated. Children act out what they feel. A child who is being mean to another child, calling them names, alienating them from a group, or teasing them is a red flag. These are not by chance. A child will mimic behavior they are being exposed to in one way or another. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a parent, it can be another child on the bus, on the playground, or even a babysitter. A child that is behaving badly is acting out. Talk to them. A child can be empowered to feel and deal with his or her feelings by being acknowledged that what is happening is wrong, instead of having to act it out.
With all the technology at our disposal, it is easy to forget how important the simple things are for a child. Doing a puzzle not only requires dedication and attention it teaches and allows a child to practice planning, coordination, patience, problem solving, spatial reasoning, and more. As a child grows introducing harder puzzles increases confidence and builds experience. I often help as I introduce harder puzzles, with the borders and grouping pieces close by so it is not too overwhelming. But, I never let them know I am helping, even when he says he needs help. ©motherinsight.com – if you like, share 🙂 someone else may too!