Parenting is hard. I think anyone can agree on that, especially if they have a spirited child. Unlike happy cooing babies, spirited babies often shrieks for reasons we cannot predict (food too cold, room too hot, too much noise, too bright, toilet flushing sound, etc.). We often called A the shrieking banshee back when he was an infant.
As he got his words and learned how to whine, he no longer shrieks. Alas, I can’t decide whether I hate the shrieking or the whining worse. Every time, I would get upset. Then I would remind myself of this thing we have in common: intense emotion.
As kids, I often gasped for air when crying, some were for unimportant reasons such as not being allowed buy a new toy, not having the promised food for the day, or just a change of plan for that afternoon. Regardless of how I was raised and disciplined, my emotions are intense. I don’t scream and shout, I had tingles running from my neck to my head, hyperventilate and ended up in panic attack once.
If that’s how intense my emotions were as adolescent and adult, surely my limit-testing toddler feels overwhelmed by this huge urge of emotions bursting out of him. Chances are, he doesn’t understand why he whines, shrieks, shouts, or jump around. Sometimes I can’t even explain why I behave a certain way.
But how I discipline my child is up to me, and knowing this responsibility is what urged me to read books on children discipline and pedagogy. I’ve mentioned Maria Montessori and Janet Lansbury on my previous post. They helped shape the kind of parents I am today, although I wish I knew more about their concepts sooner. Regardless of books, community and family, pressure would still be around.
“Does your child behave well?”, “Do you still breastfeed?” are among the decent ones. How about ‘no more nursing for you, your’re too big’, or ‘you don’t have to yell to your son’, or ‘my child can do this. Can yours do this yet?’.
Seriously, parenting is hard enough. Patience could run thin on some days, especially when we’re sleep-deprived. Some parents choose to follow the child’s directions, including nursing them when they still need or wants it. Including sticking to predictable routines so they know what to expect.
Some others chose to make their schedule a priority, such as taking the kids to a family gathering until late or forcing babies to Cry It Out until they fall asleep. The same principle of choosing to stay at home or to work and leave the kids under someone else’s care. All choices you made is yours, as is mine. I may disagree, but I don’t want to judge. Because parenting is hard enough and we are flawed human each with our own weaknesses.
Respect comes both ways. This means the child should respect the parents needs while they do their own thing. I thought this idea was absurd with A who always crave for attention and constant interaction. However, after embracing his whining for a few days, encouraged him to do activities on his own or take turns, he can play independently and wait until I finish what I was doing before getting back at him.
Lessons learned: We must trust the child that they are capable. Capable of doing, of waiting, of concentrating, of climbing, of many great other things! At the same time, our kids also trusts us to provide safe and clear boundaries so that they may move freely, and trusts us to be a safe place when they’re a wreaking havoc. What’s your parenting style?