Updated: Jan 20, 2019
As if parenting wasn't challenging enough. Somehow, the universe handed me a wild card, that I equate to a special tucked away charge of karma.
Now you might be reading this, and are very likely in a different phase of parenting (cool, cool) or not raising little people but stumbled across this post (and that's cool too). I’m here to share with you what the 6 and 10 year old phase is like, in my house at least.
Here I am, 35 years old, blessed with two kinds of kids 👨👩👦👦.
Heres a quick synopsis of what my little people are like.
-Strong-willed and easy going
-Accepts what he gets, thankful for it
-Knows what he wants in life
-Hyper aware if he's being a brat
-Knows when to stop being obnoxious
-Doesn't mind when things don't go his way
-Goes with the flow
-Absolutely obsessed with RC Cars and has incredible ability to trade/sell these things
-Independent, only when he wants to be
-Strong-willed, with a mouth
-Rarely grateful (mainly on his own terms), unless I explain to him why he should be
-Ideal future is working at a ⛽️ station for snacks (there's nothing wrong with this)
-Never aware when he's acting inappropriate
-Whines, when he doesn't get his way
-Polite when he wants to be
-Charming when he’s in the mood
-Can't tolerate losing or failing at ANYTHING 🤦🏽♀️ #soreloser
-Disappointed easily, especially when his personal belongings are wet
-Shows spouts of anger 😡 if he can't find what he's looking for
-Does obnoxious things for attention
-Obsessed with the board game Monopoly
Same upbringing, same parents - what, in the process, did I do wrong!?
What's it like you ask?
Well, some days are definitely better than others.
Some days are filled with smiles and rainbows with a shower of unexpected appreciation. Other days feel like mounds of frustration and chunks of WTF are flowing from the sky.
Either way, every day requires sharp mental preparation and oodles of patience to survive what might come my way. My favorite part is being ready at ALL TIMES to whip out stealth mom eye-scorn looks followed by an unexpected pinch, when the misbehaving kicks into high gear.
Earlier this month, I appreciatively wrapped a 12-day holiday break. Boy can I say that I have the most profound respect for all stay at home moms. The rollercoaster of never ending drama is an elaborate Emmy show in the Mesa home.
Two boys 👦🏽👦🏽= constant fighting and deliberate pushing of buttons, in the most creative ways. Someone is ALWAYS the victim and the other "didn't do it."
Witnessing and really living the day to day chaos, full time, was exhausting. And man, do they think I enjoy being the the Debby Downer, that shuts down their mess-capade parties?
On a positive note, after 12 long days, I became REALLY good at Uno and learned that one of my sons go ape sh*t when he loses. Now I'm praying that our recent start of indoor soccer will help manifest better teamwork and the ability to lose without being a little b*&*($.
After all of this, and every day that I live it, I’ve learned EXTREME patience, and now understand why my head is filled with white hair.
So what do I do when my child is being difficult??
Cry and have a mental breakdown.
Just joking. But sometimes, that sounds like the best, immediate solution.
#1 - Read Books/Articles and find Professional Help
This December, I finally made the conscience effort to read and learn some new parenting techniques. Techniques that don't involve screaming (because my husband loves this about me 😂).
I was starting to realize that my "Do you want nice mom or psycho mom?" preaching session wasn't consistently working, it was time to seek legitimate advice.
Using this AMAZING app called Libby from the Los Angeles County library system, I found this amazing book written by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D and Tina Payne Bryson, PH.D. No-Drama Discipline taught me to "connect and redirect" as one way to attack the situation.
This means, take a massive deep breath (while your child is being a complete a^*hole to you), squat down, look him in the eyes, and ask “what’s going on dude? Why are you acting this way?”
Every single time Mr. Difficult pulled a stunt, I used the No-Drama Discipline pointer questions to help deflect drama and avoid a good scream-session:
Why did my child act this way?
What lesson do I want to teach in this moment?
How can I best teach this lesson?
This is where he screams or cries, "TJ TOOK IT FROM MEEEEEEEE!"
Me: Why did he take it? What's going on?
Austin: BECAUSE HE'S MEANNNNN TO ME!
Me: You guys are brothers, be good to each other.
Austin: I DON'T LIKE HIM, HE'S NOT MY BROTHER ANYMORE!!!
Me: He's your brother for life. TJ, come here and say sorry. Give him a hug and let's move on.
TJ: Mom, he's totally messing with you. I didn't do anything to him. Hugs Austin and makes him laugh.
Austin: he's now over it, and have moved on to the next mess-capade.
Imagine scenarios just like the above involving bickering, punching and constant battles. Regardless of the situation, try the 3-step plan and see where it takes you. (splashing patience your way)
Side note: If you have a Los Angeles library card, by using the Libby app, you are able to listen to audiobooks for FREE and borrow books for FREE. Win-win.
My favorite solution, IMO, is to just GO OUTSIDE. There is no better solve to the chaos of a difficult child than the outdoors. The smell of trees, the challenge of a good hike and the feeling of exploration. Wide open space for both my easy and difficult child to run and be children.
No need to scream NOOOOOOOO when they're bouncing balls inside the house, trying to break my furniture, or wreaking havoc by jumping on my 64 year old wooden floors.
The idea of the outdoors is soooo important to me that I opted to spend my 35th birthday at a Kid's Obstacle Challenge in Irvine this past year. Here's an idea of what the course looks like below.
#3 - Be fair and accept that you're raising a strong-willed child.
I was raised in a generation where old-school style spanking was the disciplining norm. We were NEVER given choices. We had the outdoors and each other to rely on for entertainment. Trust was a 5 letter word that ran deep and true. No one supervised us after school. No devices. No technology. We weren't afraid of anything, but our parent's disappointment. Every time I look back and reflect, I feel rotten for how the new times are robbing my children and the rest of the world of these amazing, raw experiences.
Ok, enough of my feelings about the past.
Although I was raised very differently, I have to remind myself to discipline both boys fairly. I can't treat one differently because of his ability to lose his s*** if his cucumber snack wasn't peeled to his liking.
This is super duper hard when the good, practical child does not misbehave, and has to suffer thru Mr. Difficult wanting to prolong his tantrum.
This article from Aha! Parenting said it perfectly and gives me supreme hope. Totally worth the read.
"Strong-willed kids aren't just being difficult. They feel their integrity is compromised if they're forced to submit to another person's will." Apparently, a difficult child LOVES to cooperate if they're allowed to choose. This goes against my very grain of how I was raised, but if this is one way to help my cause. Let's do it.
#4 - Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit.
Raising children is tough. Easy going or difficult, it comes with a plethora of challenges. Don't discredit all the good things you do for these little bambinos. YOU are raising incredible little humans that will, one day, contribute to society in beautiful ways because YOU took the time to raise them with love 💖and respect.
By sharing these experiences and tips, I hope that you won't feel alone if you are in similar shoes. Trust me, you're not the only whose face and ears go red when your kid loses his cool in a public place while you're trying to gracefully go in and out for milk.
Soooo if you can relate to the last 5 minutes of this blog post, I wish you peace, love and patience 💫✌🏽.
Let‘s not give up on our kids or our sanity. No one said parenting was going to be easy, but with support and compassion for one another, we can get through this phase.
-💗 your fellow compassionate mom,