I’m not really a New Year’s Resolution kind of person. I figure if I want to change something it doesn’t take a New Year to motivate me to do so. However, when thinking of 2009 and the things I would like to improve on one thing cropped right up to the top. It’s not a resolution that you can see immediate results in. As a matter of fact, it may be years before this resolution pays off. Maybe that’s why I decided on it because it is going to be the same resolution every year for a really long time. My resolution starting here in 2009 is to be a better parent. I didn’t make this resolution because I feel like a horrible parent.(although I have at times) I didn’t make it to get the mommy of the year award. I think I made it because it is the single most important thing in life…shaping a human being. If I didn’t start working on being a better parent now then it would never happen. I believe it has to be a conscious effort every day, something I struggle with every day.
It’s not like kids come with an instruction manual. Yes, I know there are a million books out there on the topic. But, it is still up to you as the parent to filter what you read and decide if it will work with you and your child. In other words it really is trial and error.
I have learned so many thing from my son and continue learning every day. Parenting a child really is like having a mirror. Its funny how much stuff they pick up from us. I know that people say a lot of toddlers throw fits because they haven’t yet learned how to communicate the way they feel. But, I discovered this year that it is more than that. Duh, how we react to a stressful situation is how they learn to react. If I react to things he does by ranting and raving then guess what he does when he gets stressed? I have no idea why that took a while to see.
We’ve all heard of the terrible twos right? Well, what about the terrible threes? Threes for me have been a much bigger challenge than two was. Now I admit there are some new senerios. One big thing is that I had a baby five months ago.(right about the time my son turned 3) I’d say that there are some behavior issues that cropped up because of that. Now in my case my son is very good to his new sister. We prepared him pretty well I think and he did not have much of an issue with her. However, I had a hard time adjusting to motherhood of two. It’s a lot more work. Plus, I was a lot more tired and when I get tired I get snippy. Then he would be snippy with me and I would wonder where he was getting that behavior. Since he is not in daycare and is with me all the time I suddenly realized I needed to take a look at me.
Upon the realization that most of his learning is done by behavior that is observed, I decided even before New Years that I really needed to work on being a better parent.
Can I expect him to say please and thank you if I don’t? Will he learn to be helpful if I never let him help?( and that means that it will take twice as long and not be done the way I think it needs to be done) Can I teach him to go to his room to calm down when he gets angry if I yell and scream at him? Can I teach him to say his prayers if I don’t pray with him?
Here’s a biggie that is really hard as a parent. Can he learn from his mistakes if he never has consequences?This means when he tears up that new present he got for Christmas rather than rant and rave about how so and so spent all this money on his present(which a three year old has no concept of anyway) I can have a perfect opportunity to teach him that when he doesn’t take care of his stuff he loses it.
Parenting a three year old is a challenge for a lot of reasons. However, we as parents make things so much harder than we have to. I remember when he started dropping his naps. Of course it all happened right as I had a newborn and so desperately needed the sleep. I would be frustrated because I was so tired and round and round we went. Then night time would come and he would be so tired he would have meltdowns and round we’d go some more. I finally stopped fighting him on the nap. Now he has to have quiet time for an hour during the day and he goes to bed an hour earlier. We almost always avoid any meltdowns because of tiredness from either of us.
For a while after he turned three he really started challenging me, telling me no when I would ask him to do something, ignoring me, or throwing a fit when he didn’t like something. I knew he was testing the boundaries. Because I knew he was old enough to understand me clearly and knew it was just him being defiant, I had a hard time keeping my cool. I would feel my blood pressure rise and I would rant and he’d rant back at me. Here I was the very person that swore I would not argue with a toddler doing just that!! I finally realized I was being sucked in to his battle. I still struggle with this,but since I have decided not to engage in his battle it has been a lot better. Now when I say I don’t engage that does not mean that I let him do whatever he wants. It just means I act like the adult. How we adults get sucked into acting like a three year old I don’t know, but it happened to me. He knows now that it is alright to be angry but how he chooses to act when he’s angry is what gets him in trouble. I am not going to rant and rave at him, but he will have to be removed from the room until he can act nicely. There is no running dialogue while he in isolation,when he is done whining and crying he can come out. If he comes out and starts whining he goes back to his room. It really works. But, it is not what I do when I correct so much as how I do it. Once I started parenting in a calmer fashion he started responding in a calmer fashion
I still am working on this and will be the rest of my parenting time I guess. New years bring new challenges. I hope that I will meet each year head on and get more creative as I go.