Kids are in a very precarious position. They are utterly dependent upon adults for everything. Food, shelter, safety and, most importantly, the education they will need to survive on their own.
You are in a difficult position yourself: you are charged with taking care of the physical and spiritual requirements of this unwieldy, impossibly needy offspring who can’t even express himself enough to tell you what he requires in the first place, often refuses what is offered (even though it is best), and somehow knows exactly what to do to be the most infuriating person in the universe, more so than even your spouse.
And, he never sleeps.
To make it even more insane, you have people like me giving you advice; telling you that you should get the child to be willing and cooperative somehow while juggling car seats, lunches, a purse, briefcases full of work, traffic, timelines, obligations that come out of nowhere but cannot be blown off and added excitement like vomit and caterpillars showing up at the least expected moments.
But if you could somehow learn the trick of getting your child to be thoughtful, observant and cooperative, that would certainly be worth it, right?
Before anything else, be sure that your child has enough sleep and nutritious food. Sleep should be nine to eleven hours! Not kidding. Food should be healthy and plentiful. Please cut out the sugar and artificial colors and flavors, for your own sanity, let alone your offspring’s.
Without the baseline of a well fed and well rested child, your life will be utter hell. Conversely, it is remarkable how civilized your spouse and children can become with the simple basics of life taken care of.
So, the first thing you are doing that is stressing your child out is not letting him get enough sleep and healthy food. This makes him edgy, sensitive and impossible to control.
The second thing you are doing is trying to control your kids by pointing out negative, tragic consequences to their innocent attempts to explore their environment.
Classic example: little Johnny decides to walk along the curb. Mama yells out: “Don’t do that, you’re going to fall into the street and the bus is going to run over you and squash your head like a melon! Get over here right now!”
Goodness! It doesn’t take a PhD to realize that this kind of communication is destructive. If you insist on always pointing out the negative, you will create an anxious, nervous child who is certain that life is a minefield and one false step will inevitably result in various limbs being blown off, a face that is stuck forever into a frown, stomachaches, blindness, broken necks and all manner of horrific and permanent states of debilitation and ultimately, an agonizing death.
Why not ask Johnny to notice that it’s a busy street (while you run over and position yourself strategically to head off any truly dangerous activity), and he could look around for another place to go curb-walking that isn’t near the fast cars. Now Johnny is being directed by his wise parent to look around his environment and make a good decision. Enough of these “teaching moments” and you will have a responsible and self-reliant child who is well on his way to owning his own life. Incidentally, you will also have a child who listens to you because you are controlling him with compassion not with domination. Not always easy, I understand. But worth pursuing.
I love the fact that from a lump of black coal, through extreme heat and pressure a diamond is created.
I personally think that parents are gems of the same nature.
Through all the twists and turns of parenthood, the heartbreaks and joys, you do so much more right than wrong. And I think your children would agree.