Listening is hard to do
It doesn’t matter what age your children are, there will always be some disagreements and arguments. In an ideal world everyone will be able to control their temper, everyone will have their own way, and life will be fantastic for all! As I have talked about in earlier blogs, no two families are ever the same due to the different people who make up these families. My husband honestly believed that having our baby listen to music, chilling on a beanbag in her first few months, would produce a child who just took life in her stride. Well in many respects, yes, she is a girl who can be calm and a joy to have around, but she also has her own mind and ideas and is not afraid to voice her opinion if she disagrees with us.
Now, I have always had routines and boundaries in place to keep my children safe as they grow up. Bath, bottle and bed when they were babies, replacing the bottle for a book as they got older. Meal times are roughly around the same time and bed times never late. I thought I had parenting all worked out, but recently I have been finding it difficult with my oldest daughter beginning to turn into a young adult. I have had to turn to others for advice, and really listen to what they are telling me. I am lucky to have a few friends that work with young adults, and they have given me support and strength when I have felt at my lowest, reminding me I’m not a bad parent, simply needing to adjust and keep talking and listening and that we all need to keep working together as a family to make compromises. It may be easier to give up and give in to the demands of a child nearing adulthood, but that is not always the solution.
Much of the advice I have been given is similar to what I too give out to parents of younger children. I specialise in children aged 2 to 12, and one of the most important things I try to convey to parents is you need to listen to your child. If you have a child who keeps having temper tantrums, you need to think about what is causing the tantrum. For example, if your child always has a meltdown in the middle of the supermarket, you need to try and work out why that is. A young child may not be able to tell you why, but by trying different things out, you may be able to eliminate the problem. The solution could be something as simple as you end up visiting the supermarket when your child is tired or hungry, so changing the time of the visit may work. It could be that they are bored and need to be more involved in the shopping by asking them to get the apples while you pick up the bananas. Taking someone along to help you can also do the trick. On a more problematic note, it may be that your child has worked out if they scream and shout enough you will pick them up a packet of sweets to keep them quiet. If this is the case, then changing this dilemma will take longer, but can be done.
The tantrum is a form of communication, and although this behaviour is not what any of us like to witness, sometimes it is a huge sign that we need to listen. By throwing the tantrum the child (or young adult), doesn’t necessarily get what they want, but as the parents and experienced adults, we need to listen to what is being expressed and see what changes can be made to try and accommodate everyone’s wishes. It is difficult for children and young people alike to find the words they want to say and it can all explode at times. Supporting them in their time of need is important, however hard.
Also, remember how difficult it is to be on the receiving end of that tantrum. I myself have recently had to give myself ‘time out’ to get away and clear my head. It is never easy whether your child is 2 or 15 to have them screaming in your face, when all you have ever done is your best for them. Our children will not always like the decisions we make for them and yes sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we need to find the ‘middle ground’, and compromise on what we both want to make things work. Parents are human and especially if it is your first child, you are sometimes making things up as you go along. You base your parenting on how you were raised by your parents, your own personal experiences in life, and also what you have learnt from others around you. What works for one child, may not work for another so keeping an open mind and listening to everyone in the family is needed to try and keep a family happy.