Remember those nights, shuffling around the nursery trying to calm the shrill cries of your newborn?
Or, jingling skittles in a jar to encourage your child to actually make it to the potty chair this time?
When you’re going through these stages it feels like life is standing still. Like you will never make it through.
Sometimes you need a reminder that this is too shall pass.
You need to remember to zoom out.
Check your lens.
Whatever challenging stage you are in with your kids now, you can’t wait for it to end, and you want it to end NOW!
I get it.
Unfortunately, your desire for them to make better choices often collides with their immaturity and ability to self-regulate.
Maturity and self-regulation happen gradually. Each day they’re heading closer to the goal of being able to make a good choice without having a huge tantrum.
But, it’s a slow process.
If you find yourself hyper-focused on every little infraction, every challenging behavior, every sibling squabble, you’re probably zoomed in a little too close.
You’re missing the big picture. In other words, let’s check the lens and zoom out a little.
When you zoom out, you start looking at parenting for the long-term.
You start to see that parenting is less about addressing every little challenge, and more about supporting your kids as they make this slow trek toward maturity.
So, how do you parent well in the moment while still having a long-term vision?
- Learn What’s Really “Normal”: If your kids are 5 or younger, they do not have the strategies and ability to manage big emotions. Which means tantrums and meltdowns are normal! If your kids are older, they may have the ability, but stress, hunger, and overstimulation may get in the way of consistently making a good choice.
- Connect Before You Correct: Joining with your child when they are struggling serves two purposes. It brings you closer together, building trust and a sense of safety. And, it encourages your child’s brain to develop, learning new skills and strategies for managing and expressing big feelings in the future.
- Teach Don’t Preach: Help your kids make good decisions by inviting them to be a part of the problem-solving process. Talk about challenges and brainstorm together. Younger kids may need more hands-on, in-the-moment assistance while older kids may be able to process after the fact and make a plan for the future.
Enjoy the view.
When you’re hyper-focused on the problems, you miss the progress. Stepping back allows you to watch your kids grow and mature!
You see your hard work pay off.
You see how your son was able to negotiate a toy exchange with his younger brother this morning even though they argue at the dinner table.
You see how your daughter finished a really challenging math worksheet without screaming or crumpling the paper even though she still has a low grade in the class.
You realize that you don’t pace the floor of the nursery anymore.
And usually, your kids make it to the bathroom in time.
(Not that they keep it clean…but that’s another story.)