The most common thing that I hear time and time again, from mom after mom, is my kid doesn't listen. Time after time, I get the same complain over and over, with parents frustrated, because they say that their child does not listen to what they say. It's a big issue with most of us. We become frustrated or angry when we repeatedly ask one our children to do something, and it does not get done. I get it. It can get annoying to have to repeat yourself over and over again. But what if I told you that I've come to find out, over and over again, that they are not the problem...we are...whaaa?! Now before you jump down my throat, let me tell you what I mean.
What I find, is that most of the time, the child is behaving in a completely age appropriate manner, and we - the parent - don't listen. See the great thing about, having 5 kids *smile* is that I have seen it, and pretty much BTDT with most of my kids. A lot of the behavioral stuff that I see some parents struggle with, is behavior that all of my children have done at one point or the other. So, what the heck does this mean? It means that, if they all do it, then it's NORMAL behavioral stuff - we just don't understand - AND today, I want to give you a glimpse into this world...here we go...childhood broken down by age categories (of course there is more in-between, but for the sake of brevity, I'll condense):
1) NB - 1 Year - Infant. Completely Dependent
During this time they need full attention. They need to know that they are, and will be cared for and nurtured by those that are around them. Although they are non verbal, they express their needs by crying, and will let you know when they need you - no your baby is not manipulating you, they need your care. They are unable to to anything alone, and need assistance. It's as simple as that - albeit, draining at times.
2) 1-2 Years - during these ages, children are exploring their world through touch, taste, smell, and feel.
They are not doing these things to make us nuts. They are doing it because they are exploring their world. They are literally, gaining a new understanding of everything that is around them. It's an important stage of development, it may seem insane, but is actually quite normal. The no phase starts at the end part of this stage, too. It's normal, and helps them set personal boundaries, as well as understand that they are separate parts of those around them (before this, being completely dependent on those around them).
3) 2- 3 Years - During this time, they are beginning to understand that they are separate from the ones that they love, and are becoming more independent.
Must touch everything. Learning to understand what the world means through touch. The best thing during this stage, is to keep things that need to be out of hand, out of reach and high up. If they can reach it, they will touch and grab it. Because still not fully verbal, to keep "tantrums" minimum, meet basic needs; food, sleep, try not to over-stimulate - and because they still have no impulse control, understanding their cues, routines, etc. is your best solution to understanding your child and their needs. When unwanted behavior occurs, the best course of action, is to meet their needs and offer comfort.
4) 3-4 Years - More independent. Want to tackle the world and do everything alone.
During this time, the most important thing to remember is that they are trying to figure the world out. They are curious to try things out, and learn first hand about the world around them. They have a driving need to try things out alone. The best thing to do, is to allow them the space, where they can grow according to these needs. Leaning to understand their cues , can hep with a lot of behavioral issues spoken about. Trying to figure out what their needs are, setting loving boundaries, while helping them find the words to explaining their feelings helps a lot. Remember, don't take their behavior personally, they are just learning to express how they feel, and how to figure things out for themselves. Keeping interesting and open ended toys, activities and and different things to hold their interests, help a lot. Also, lots of outside time: nature, outside play.
5) 4-5 Years - Begins to understand the difference between themselves and other children. Has a larger scope of themselves vs other people and children.
Your child has reached an age, where it's much easier to communicate with them. Understanding their needs is not as difficult as before this period, because they are more verbal. When behavioral things like control issues start to come up, the best way to understand is through play. Spending 15 extra minutes with your child a day, one on one, will help them open up about emotions and feelings, allowing you to understand their behaviors and reasons. Taking a calm approach with them during this time, helps tremendously because they will be more willing to open up to you, and let you know what's bothering them more often, rather than you having to struggle to understand.
6) 5-6 Years - Understanding their world, and the difference between their family and themselves, and learning their role within it
7) 6-7 Years - Becoming aware of outside influence. Taking in the larger world.
During these ages, a calm and more grounded approach is needed from you: because they are going through many emotions and changes, learning to understand their world in a completely different way. The best way to handle their strong reactions, is to become curious, and to stay as grounded as possible. As humans, we only open up to those around us, when we feel safe and comfortable doing so - so, if your child, does not feel this way, the likelihood of them opening up is not very likely. It's easy to get caught up, in back talk, control issues, defiance, etc., when you're either stressed at any given moment, or when you're unaware that most of this behavior is normal for these ages. But. When you become aware that these are all phases in life, you can begin to learn to stop reacting, and start to understand and connect instead.
If you'd like to see a list of children between the ages of 7 to 11, please, comment below, email or message me.
And if you'd like to schedule a call with me, to learn how to handle these kinds of behaviors, you can do so HERE.
Today, looking through old pictures and videos of my kids, I became both happy and melancholy with the memories that came flooding back, because even though I remember how much fun we had in those moments, I also remember how stressed out and tired I was, and I cringe when I see one of my kids playing and I hear the harsh tone of voice of back then, or me lost in my phone: but the truth is that during that rough periods of our lives, one of the hardest things for to do is to be present - let alone be gentle or soft. I look back during this time and I remember frustration. I remember feeling like I was going to loose it, and when I see these old pictures, of a time that has passed away, I realize that the most important thing now, is to be present with the love that I want them to feel from me. I don't want them to reflect back in another 5 years, and feel hurt. I want them to feel glad, that no matter what storm that mommy was feeling or going through at the moment, that I was able to meet them with grace and understanding, while keeping the love present. I want to be able to look back at pictures and see them with the eyes of a parent who was present and available, not one who was harsh, because I was too tired, stressed or busy to notice.
For the last few weeks, I have been contemplating a presence challenge, and looking back at these photos and talking with a friend has shown me that it is time. I know that I often make the mundane seem magical and somehow transcendental but the truth is that the mundane is challenging. The power that I have always possessed is that I have always had the ability to lean into a rough moment and learn something from it. Challenging times are, and have always been my teachers. I don't particularly like them more than the nice moments - I love morning snuggles and to hear my kids laugh and play and I love a relaxed day where one thing flows into another, but the truth is that beautiful rose colored days are the wonderful restful of the not so nice days - the days where I use to run into my bathroom and close my door to cry. The days where I used to feel like I was drowning in a sea of children and duties. Those darker days, taught me that the moments that are not so nice, teach me how to be the kind of person that I don't want to be by giving me and example of what needs to heal in my life. I learn that when I was being present in the moment, that I had everything available for me to take me into the next moment and grow into what I needed. I learned how to squeeze the importance out of the challenges - how to lean into tantrums and the feelings of wanting to run away an learn to take responsibility of what is, and take responsibility of my feelings and thoughts in order to create what I want. I learned to understand that my feelings, emotions and thoughts are there to help me learn what I needed to do in order to get the results that I want - and this is the biggest reason for me creating the 7 Day Presence Spark: a challenge to help you become present, and learn to balance yourself, and get what you need at the moment, so that you can can become the parent that you envision, and to keep you aware and accountable at the moment....AND in honor of this challenge, I want to leave you with 5 tips to help you RIGHT NOW (until the beginning of the challenge 4/10/16):
1) Allow what's happening. Refrain from judgment or criticism.
2) Take full responsibility of what you've created in your life (your life is your own, and everything within it is a result of a choice you've made).
3) Find a ground for the more difficult moments (oils, pictures, taking a walk (nature), crystals, tarot cards - whatever works for you)
4) Remember that no matter how much you want to associate with the behavior, and take it personally - DON'T. It's not about you - your child is having a rough moment or an issue, and needs your calm space, not the storm.
5) Become aware of the story that you're telling yourself about your child and their behavior i.e. they are crying for attention, they are a brat, they just like to argue...this is YOUR story. Remove the association, so that you can tune into them and they can show you what they need. *They will only show you, if they feel that you are available and open. Your job is to take care of yourself so that you can meet their need.
*BONUS* Feeling angry? Read this blog post on how to stop and ground yourself before you react.
So, if this is something that you're interesting in, SIGN UP TODAY!
...and if you're looking to connect with me, and learn more about how I can help you, go here.
Life can be full of magic and wonder once again, all you have to do is look for it - let me help you.