Parenting is hard!!!! When our kids are babies, we think well as soon as they are a little older, things will get easier. Yes, they start to sleep through the night, thank goodness, but then they begin to move around at a pace that resembles something of that Beep, Beep bird that flies past the screen on TV. Now you see them, now you don’t. Ok well maybe a few more years and things will get better, yay we are now over the tantrism and wining, they are beginning to understand danger and so we can sit down when they run around. Finally!! Life gets easier, oh wait, my child now has an opinion and between the cloths I choose, the food I make, nothing seems to be good enough. So we try and accommodate them to keep the peace, so what if they don’t like eating stew, I will just make Mac n Cheese, that is sure to keep the peace? Ok so this is just another phase, and like the other phases that we have been through, we will get over it and then life will be easier.
The answer is the phases never end, the demands of each phase are just as hectic as the phase before, and I’m beginning to realise that I think when we have children, we are in for at least 18 – 21 years of phases. They are hard, and exhausting. They can make you want to rip your hair out. They can leave you doubting your parenting ability’s, but at the end of the day this is what it is all about.
The key is how you handle each phase. You are the parent and what you say is what goes. Don’t try and negotiate with your children to keep the peace. If you want to make each phase move past as smoothly as possible, you have to be the parent at all times and the sooner your child realises this the better. Ensure that the questions that you ask are going to get the answer that you were looking for. For example, instead of asking your child if they would like something to drink and then having to tell them No when they ask for coke or a milkshake, ask them if they are thirsty? If they say yes, then offer them what you would like them to have. “Ok then, would you like to have fruit juice or water?” This way you have given them a choice without setting yourself up to sound like the big mean parent that always says No! The same goes for food. Children do not instantly understand what an appropriate answer is, what they do hear is how many times you say No, and this is what causes them to act out.
Learn to roll with the punches, and try and not sweat the small stuff. There will always be a battle to fight, but ensure that you pick the correct ones. If the issue at hand will not have a major impact on the future, rather let it go. Keep to a routine, if your children understand what is expected of them at a certain time, you are less lightly to have to nag them to do it. If your child knows that the evening consists of dinner, bath and then bed, the chances of them fighting with you because you told them that they had to go to bed are few and far between.
Appropriate behaviour is the hardest thing to teach a child, and this is not just behaviour but timing as well. How many times have you been ready to walk out the door and they need to poo? We all understand that sometimes this cannot be helped, but try and encourage them to sit on the toilet for a bit before everyone is ready to walk out the door. Or as soon as you walk into the shopping centre, they are so thirsty that they may just die of dehydration there and then. Now that my children are bigger, I carry their wallets in my handbag for this very reason. When they start their begging for something to drink, I calmly let them know that it is not a problem, I have their wallet with me and they can buy themselves whatever they feel like. I find it amusing how quickly they change their mind when they have to spend their own money instead of yours.
No child is too small to do their fair share of chores, as soon as they are big enough to take their own cloths off, they are big enough to put them in the wash basket. Kids love washing dishes, so let them help you. Preparing food is not a task that is yours alone. Help them to pack their own lunch boxes, this will leave them feeling empowered and they will understand that the fairies don’t just sort it out when they are sleeping. Let them help you with dinner. Let them grate cheese and peel potatoes, I bought a metal tooth afro comb, that I place in the top of a potato or onion and taught them to cut between the teeth of the comb. This way they are holding the handle of the comb and so their fingers are far away from the knife. Clean up after yourself. When you are finished with something, put it away before you take something else out. I know these things sound so obvious, the problem is that often we are in such a hurry that we find it easier to do everything ourselves as it takes less time, and then moan that the kids never help us. It is time for our children to man up, to take responsibility. Empower your children and watch them flourish. They are far more capable than we give them credit for.
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