Hi. I'm writing this hiding in a closet. Jk, close... Let's be real... I started writing this pretending to go to the bathroom sitting on my step stool ( my apologies to the past, present and future people involved with this white lie.)
I took on blogging from the perspective of a loving momma and school counselor. On top of my nonstop brain (oh look a squirrel-jk), I have a charismatic, beautiful and sweet attention hungry three and a half year old and a breast feeding adorable little man-baby. My time is limited, however, if you can look past typos and lack of solid grammatical skills, I hope you can find some solace in my thoughts and nonjudgmental perspective.
I felt inclined to write this post for multiple reasons . I recently posted a question to all my Facebook friends and asked what methods they choose to use when they feel their patience is running out while working with children. Everyone's perspective was valuable and helpful to this post and reaffirms that you must develop your own style! Thank you all for taking the time out to write all of your insight and to create a mini support group through this post! Some friends inadvertently identified that humor helps them the most in impatient moments, some teacher friends use outstanding approaches such as keeping communication at eye level, soft tones, positive reinforcements to build up self confidence, and other loving parents or care givers spoke highly of breathing techniques! All great stuff! It was a nice to reread some of these techniques as sometimes we all need a great reminder of the simple and effective approaches.
The other reason that lead me to this article is that I often receive kind feedback from people about my writing, Instagram and Facebook posts about how I appear to interact with my children. I have often received compliments about how it appears that I "handle everything so well" and that I am a "phenomenal mom"; these compliments are so uplifting to me as I feel I am being recognized as the person I strive to be on a daily basis... however, it has been within these moments I also want to realistically tell all of you, nothing is as "perfect" as social media so easily helps us portray. Just like all of you, I lose my cool, I get angry, I get upset, I get stumped on coming up with solutions... and even though one of my most favorite moments of the day is the sunrise, I am often too tired to commit to that (perhaps that is why it is so special?) Let's all remember that Social media is our digital imprint; our online identity. What we share and like, we are prompting that type of energy. Be conscious of it. While we always post the photographs we are most proud of, don't forget that we select what we promote. There is no such thing as the perfect family; we all are works in progress! When I'm not taking magical childhood photos (and selectively posting my favorites that never include meltdowns which absolutely occur on the regular) and writing about moments that I feel passionate about, I, like most of you, am just trying to figure this whole parenting thing out as I go.
Anyone interacting with children, whether through your job, as an aunt or uncle, or whatever it may be ... be kind to yourself... Children can be demanding and have a ton of needs that require a lot of our attention if we want to meet them appropriately. Especially for those of you who are parents...Be kind to yourself and other parents around you... One of my favorite quotes I recently found from Doe Zantamata is, "It's easy to judge. It's more difficult to understand. Understanding requires patience, and a willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding we grow." When in conversation with our social circles, remember... we are all products of or own families and we only put forth what we know best... be kind.. there are more important conversations to be had other than talking negatively about people you don't know anything about. Try to believe the best in people and you might learn something you have never thought of before. Seek beauty in others and you will find beauty within yourself... It is within the beauty of others that we find patience and understanding in ourselves...seek patience with our children and we will find patience within ourselves... If we want our children to be kind, we must put forth empathy and understanding into the world and that begins at home.. after all our children will model our behaviors.
Parenting is not easy, especially when you you feel responsible for shaping a person and helping them establish discipline, social skills, a foundation in education, guiding them to find their dharma and all that jazz. For the love of God guys, try to rest when you can and don't forget to again... be kind to yourself. One of the most forgiving and beautiful phrases I found recently has been resounding in my head each day; "Every moment you have the opportunity to start over-to begin again."I live by this quote every second and every minute of the day. I have found that it is harder to talk negatively to myself than to accept, forgive and let go. Who wants to make this life easier and more enjoyable? I do! We all make mistakes! Maybe you snapped and raised your voice or said something you regretted? Allow that moment to be what it was, take responsibility and then move on to the next moment immediately. Don't be afraid to admit to your child when you make mistakes; if they see you are only human, they will be more kind to themselves as they get older. Be kind to yourself first, allow mistakes to be a part of your life as well as overcoming each of them and you will find more patience with children.
What's going on inside of your thoughts?
Hone in on what is causing you to be impatient and if it is important to you, you need to make the change. Is this a common response from you? Is there a pattern in specific moments for you? Are you frequently losing your cool? Is your child triggering something within you that frustrates your own needs? I can only speak about my personal experience and through my own downfalls (and inner uplifting) I can speak on the solution oriented perspective.
For example, if you are always in a rush and your child isn't moving fast enough or answering you quick enough, turn there tables... What is causing you to rush? Continuously question yourself on what you are expecting out of your child and if you are able to expect it out of yourself as well. Then of course you need to keep in mind that you are old "af" LOL and they are not. This mentality helps keep a reasonable outcome. You have developed different tolerances as you have aged and you must keep in mind that children have just begun to develop this tolerance themselves. I am guilty of all of this! I have to constantly check myself and tell myself to s--l--o--w--d--o--w--n. When I pause for five seconds after asking Cecilia a question, I am always surprised that she is just forming her answer... she has one! It is is there! Why is it important for me to rush again? If we expect things out of our children we must be willing to look at ourselves through a microscope as well. Be honest with yourself and forgive yourself. If your reasoning has no logical answer, begin again in the next moment and slow down. Being present is not easy and it requires us to retrain our brains and behaviors. When you question a child, don't forget to question your intention. Each minute, just let go and remember, you have been placed on this earth for a reason, whatever you are doing in that moment you have an opportunity to be the best version of yourself or not.
*side note * Don't forget how important a solid full balanced meal is for our energy levels as well as hydrating ourselves (proven to lower our anxiety levels). Have you ever snapped because you are hangry? Get yourself something quick to eat, carry a cereal bar or power bar in your purse! If we don't take care of ourselves, who will?
Nurturing Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums are a normal part of child development. It is within these challenging moments we learn our child is most likely frustrated and unable to verbalize the need. Just an FYI, it seems as if even some adults we know still go through these moments of "temper tantrums" and perhaps, eyes now looking through a different scope, maybe they never developed the problem solving skills, mastering complex emotions and verbalization for their own needs...when in doubt of all of the above, again, be kind; my new favorite phrase I learned at work is, "get curious, not furious!" If we are able to observe and absorb those triggering moments for our children, we guide them in the next opportunity to help teach them the language of problem solving and to fulfill their need in a non enabling method.
The areas where I have identified major temper tantrums with my little is when we are shopping and Cecilia wants to buy a toy, when I need her to transition to something important and in a short amount of time, completing little tasks and curbing the over indulging with "special treats".
THE TOY AISLE: There was a point where I dreaded the toy aisle! I would literally say, "wow look over there!" and sprint with my shopping cart. One day it dawned on me that I couldn't keep this act up. So, what was the harm in stating that I wasn't going to buy anything however, she could play and look at the toys... if I am in a rush, I tell Cecilia she can hold one of the toys of her choice while I shop, but we aren't buying it. This method almost always works and I don't have to waste any energy in or around the toy aisle anymore. As long as she knows this intention, the outcome is clear. You might be surprised how quickly they become bored with the item too. If Cecelia constantly tells me she really wants it, I mostly always say, "well maybe this is something you can ask for your birthday or for Christmas." For some reason, this helps validate what she is asking for and then she feels like she's been heard. When she really is having a difficult time because she wants something, I always choose empathy. I say, "Wow, it really looks like you loved that toy. I understand why it upsets you...but we can't always buy something every time we go into the store." (sometimes a scream happens, sometimes, not!) I have to repeat this a ton and if you have the patience to keep reiterating it and let them carry out their emotions, in some magical way, they become OK with it. Again, they are building so many different forms of tolerance up...hold their hands and walk them through it
TRANSITIONING: With little ones, I always follow a guide of not doing something for a child if they are capable themselves and giving them help when they ask for it. A lot of the times with toddlers, they are hungry for independence and they do this through every day tasks we have grown accustomed to as adults. Have you ever pulled something out of your child's hands and and said, "here, I'll do it." What you are doing is not giving your child the opportunity to do it themselves. You are eliminating a moment of helping them develop self confidence. You are rushing to complete a task, why again? Take the opportunity as they are presented. Sometimes this exchange sends children into a tizzy because they wanted so desperately to master the skill. Give them the time and the opportunity.
If you are looking to avoid temper tantrums, look at what the child is doing before you make them transition. If they are playing, give them a fair warning! Go to Kid timers in the app store, there is a ton of them! We used to say, "You have five minutes on the timer before it is time to leave. That means, when you hear this noise (play noise), you will stop what you are doing and we will go." It was always helpful having Cecilia pick out the elements on the timer so she felt connected to the process. We used this timer constantly for a year and stopped for a while. HOWEVER, tonight, little madame was taking well over an hour to finish her food and bedtime needed to happen. I set up the timer with her and she finished, without rushing, eating her dinner in 7 minutes.
For some reason this visual always happens for me when I try explaining to people about interrupting children who are in the middle of something. If you were a basketball player, imagine you just had a break away and you were going for a lay up to win the game...you feel good about yourself, proud, and you can actually visualize yourself scoring this basket and then, ALL OF A SUDDEN, out of no where and huge giant steps on the court, rips the ball from your hands, deflates it, and throws it away. You are left, confused, shocked, frustrated, startled and angry. Children are constantly trying to master skills. If they are in the middle of something, ask them what they are doing and ask them if they need help. You might be surprised that they want to do it on their own! They are SO HUNGRY for independence.
Some of my favorite go to tips
*Every moment you have the opportunity to begin again...
*Change of speed change of direction: if you aren't getting anywhere, change the topic and distract them
*Ask them the questions and make them think to answer (Like, :Mom, why are we doing this? I give my answer about 10 times and then I realized, wow, I am exerting SO much energy. I ask Cecilia to repeat to me what I have already said and then I ask her the same question she has been asking me. Sometimes I repeat it four or five times back to her. (Matt if you are reading this, I totally high five this method for K-12 age group!)
*Be clear with your expectations with them- they like to know this information just as you do!
*I love to "Oil pull" with Coconut oil (super good for removing toxins in your mouth and a natural whitener). When I do this, I always an in the presence of Cecilia. She always tries to talk to me and I pretty much have to act out everything to her. At first it seemed silly but then I realized we were actually developing nonverbal communication! I'm a big fan of this little exercise and hey, makes your teeth white!
Becoming a parent has been the most wonderful and edifying experience in my life. I am thankful to fulfill the role of a school counselor to help these little people grow and become who they are meant to be! Let all people working with children remember to be KIND to yourself and keep your love light glowing strong!