Count to 10 for you, not them…

(Today’s Author is Charlotte from MWM South Hams)

Half term has given me the opportunity to really test my parenting skills. I think I passed, we had a really nice time together and it felt like an achievement. This week, however, has been somewhat more challenging. Back to the routine and settling into preschool following the break has not been easy for any of us. But I’m going to focus on what went well last week and knowing that while there will always be bad days, I can confidently do good days too.

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As we had such good we weather we made the most of going out and did the rounds of the local attractions. One afternoon we went to the park, my two were enjoying the swings when another family came in. Their little girl stood in front of the swings and, arms folded and hip jutting, gave us all a hard stare. I smiled and carried on pushing the children as they’d only been on there a short time. After a minute or so the little girl let out a theatrical sigh and rolled her eyes and I felt like, through her, I was looking directly at her parents, or any parents actually. I could almost hear them saying “I am waiting for you to…put your shoes on…get in the bath…clean your teeth…tidy your toys…listen to me”. She soon said “I am waiting to go on the swing” in an irritated tone that was supposed to make me immediately make a swing available. I was almost afraid she was going to start slowly counting down from 10. I calmly said “Okay”, smiled and continued to push the children until one of them eventually tired and went to the climbing frame anyway. She climbed on the swing and was happy with that, smiling and wanting to chat.

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She had behaved in exactly the way many adults behave when we are impatient and need to move our families through the daily routines and her behaviour didn’t make me want to do what she said, it made me want to deliberately linger longer and make her wait a bit more. If I felt like that as an adult with control over my impulses and a brain developed for reasoning, then it isn’t surprising to see why children don’t always want to co-operate. It gives them power in their relatively powerless existence. I am guilty of having been impatient, disrespectful and lacking in understanding when I have spoken to my children, who hasn’t? We’re only human.

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Lately I have been making a conscious effort to turn that around and show more empathy, understanding, patience, acceptance and love with them while still setting limits and expectations and it has worked wonders. We are connecting with each other, they are getting along better than I’ve ever seen them get along and I am seeing the better side of them because they are reflecting the better side of me. We had a great half term together because I think I finally get it, it’s up to me to behave towards them how I would like them to behave towards others, not to drill them to learn the rules by withdrawing positivity when they don’t. It’s up to me to enable them to be their best version of themselves and I can only do that if I show them that I accept their whole selves. If they’re making me wait, it’s up to me to work out why and support them with whatever feelings they have rather than rolling my eyes and saying it louder. It isn’t easy, especially when the pressure of routine, commitments, tiredness and moods increases but only I have the power to change what they reflect back at me and I’d rather be seeing my best, my Facebook highlight reel of behaviour and understanding, from them than the confused, blurry outtakes with an advisory warning for bad light. So now when they push my buttons, I take a deep breath and ask myself what I can do to change it for all of us (most of the time, I’m still learning and probably always will be).

Charlotte x x

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