I am very open with the struggles I face on a day to day basis. In most cases, it has allowed me to connect with others who have faced or who are facing similar struggles. I am forever grateful for these types of connections as it often makes life more bearable though frustrating. My openness has also opened me up to criticism and funny comments that jokingly suggest I am not an adequate parent, that perhaps I’m too lenient, inattentive or whatever else one who feels s/he is a successful parent might think. Let’s stop the mom-shaming and if you have not had to deal with the struggles I have, count your blessings and recognize that perhaps you are not the person to offer advice or judgement.
One of the biggest struggles we are dealing with these days is getting our children to behave. I realized the other day that I feel like it’s sheer luck whether they behave or not in every situation. Despite our attempts to raise respectful children who behave, that’s become our reality. Let me tell you, “a good whipping” and “grounding” and “taking away all their toys” has not helped at all. In fact, all of those things seem to make it worse.
A friend introduced me to the book, The Explosive Child that I’m about one third of the way through as of today. SO MUCH IS MAKING SENSE. First of all, I identify with some of the difficult children described and feel my mother would have greatly benefitted from this book while raising me, if nothing else to assure her she did her best. Second of all, I recognize many characteristics of my own children. Thus far, it’s about identifying the struggle, not the behavior. We can easily figure out the behavior–hitting, screaming, freaking out, being rude, talking back, ignoring, etc. However, It’s the struggle that’s more important. For example, my children like to yell and bicker in the morning. Those behaviors are easy to identify. The struggles are: they have difficulty waking up in the morning, they have difficulty getting dressed in the morning, they have difficulty eating breakfast in the morning, they have difficulty walking to the car in the morning, they have difficulty riding in the car on the way to school.
If you have a child for whom traditional consequences or reward systems do not help improve his/her behavior or who is easily frustrated and inflexible, you might want to read this too. Basically, it is about identifying struggles and helping our children cope appropriately with their struggles rather than prevent a behavior. Too often we focus on the behavior we don’t want rather than the reason behind said behavior. Most children who struggle with behavior problems genuinely want to behave but struggle to do so appropriately and cannot help it. (And for the record, not getting enough attention is only 1 reason children misbehave. I have read the Love Languages of Children and have made great efforts to fill my children’s love tanks in the way they need and still we have these behavior issues.)
Now, back to my reading! I’m ready to learn what to do next as I continue to compile my list of struggles.