“I hope you have a daughter that turns out just like you!” Sound familiar? Well, Mom, your wish came true. Lucky for me, my 8-year old daughter is pretty much my spittin' image when it comes to sass and determination.
As her mom, there are some days it’s all I can do to keep my cool and not fall into the trap of her whines and persistence. Don’t get me wrong, she is one of the most incredible girls around. But man, does she know what she wants and nearly how to get it, and even worse, which buttons to push! Here are some ways I have found that bring a little more peace to our home and to her demeanor.
Recognize and acknowledge the problem/stressor
It’s normal for children to want what they want when they want it. This applies to 2-year-olds all the way to 72-year-olds. But sometimes, you just get upset for no apparent reason, especially children. And for them to try and explain how they’re feeling is sometimes too hard. Take a minute and listen. It could often be that whatever is bothering them happened hours ago, or can be resolved with a simple yes. And believe me, as hard as it can be, saying yes more often has definitely been a more positive change around our home.
Harness that Energy
Remember how I said my girl is the spittin' image of me? When I was around her age, I vividly recall my dad taking me to the university track and telling me that taking my frustrations out on something active is probably the best way to resolve it. That short lesson sure humbled me and has stuck with me forever. To this day, I still am not a huge running fan, but boy do I love to be active.
There are so many classes, groups, and activities available for your little ones in your local neighborhoods and communities. Sign them up, get them involved. Whether it’s a music class or a soccer team. Give your child the chance to find success outside of the home. Give them a chance to create their own identity, to stand up for themselves, to learn respect towards another adult. And more importantly give them the opportunity to fail. The most growth happens during failure, and learning to adapt and cope with loss can be a great resource to fall back on as your kiddos grow.
“Keep the power” as my husband likes to word it. This daughter of mine is amazing at knowing just how to make me want to pull out all of my hair and hide in the pantry to eat all the chocolate chips. My threats and shouts do nothing but challenge her further to keep pushing. The best way I’ve found to deal with it, is to ignore her. And she hates it. To be honest, I do too, but - it works! Whether good or bad, we moms tend to set the whole mood for our families. And we can’t let one child’s outbreaks get the best of us. When it gets to this point, it's about the time I like to turn on some music, which is usually a good answer to every problem.
And lots of it! All the time. Never stop. Over-exaggerate all the good things. Once you start looking, you’ll find there are so many, many good things. Yes, it is so much easier said than done, but it’s amazing the positive feeling that results from it as opposed to the alternative.
She wakes up: “wow, sweetie you are a good sleeper, way to go!”
Helping the younger siblings: “Your little sister is so lucky to have you to look up to, thanks for being a good example.”
She gets her shoes on and in the car without complaining: “I love watching the way you’re growing up into such a smart, big girl”.
As we’ve been told over the years, more often than not, the negative behavior is just a cry for attention--the positive is all my beautiful little girl needs. We all do, and we all thrive on it. So find a way to bring out the light, to reinforce all the good behaviors so that hopefully, they stick around and come out more often.