“He plays for one minute and then he starts throwing things. I am following your suggestion so he is no longer throwing everything instead he is down to dumping two baskets. Oh my God, I just want to pull my hair out thinking about all the toys that must be cleaned up. I just want him to stop it already.” When will parenting become fun?
“She doesn’t whine as much as she used to. Now she tries to negotiate to get what she wants. It’s pretty brilliant marketing half of the time, but when will the whining stop.”
In both of the above cases, the parent is weighed down by the annoying, torturous and repetitive behaviors, but if you read their statements again you realize things are actually improving. Each child is cutting down on the frequency and intensity of their initials strategies.
Read that again… The frequency and intensity is half of what it used to be!!!
That my friends is where you find the joy!
These are the moments when parenting becomes fun.
The emergence of new strategies is the thing we celebrate.
This is when you must notice and find joy in the upgrade.
When you install an update on your computer you expect it to take some time. You are not sure how long but you never expect it to be instantaneous and you NEVER expect it to be flawless.
Kids are the same way. When they update their hard drives it takes an undetermined amount of time. A restart may be needed on occasion. You have to wrap your mind around the changes. You have to ACCEPT the changes as UPGRADES instead of focusing on how it used to run/react.
“Experts advocate for the old-fashioned approach: incremental progress. Dedicated commitment is what, time and again, has proven to lead to change.” What Does It Really Take to Build a New Habit?
by Kristi DePaul Harvard Business Review
If you take the time to read the article from the Harvard Business Review you will see that forming new habits takes time. It is not an overnight shift. Why am I referencing a business journal? Because these habits/responses are a HUMAN thing. We work on breaking and creating new habits our entire lives, yet in the midst of early childhood, we expect instant gratification, and an instant no sweat upgrade.
What I want you to know and RELISH is the sweet, clumsy, and imperfect struggle a child takes on to please you.
The joy in this cumbersome upgrade for your child is your smile and acknowledgment.
Forming new habits is hard.
Our job is to find joy in the upgrade. To be supportive, to be consistent, and to celebrate the small baby steps toward change.
Yes, he is still dumping out two baskets so let’s celebrate it isn’t all five.
Yes, she is still trying to get you to say yes, but her approach is much more sophisticated. Delusional perhaps, but more complex than the crying and whining she attempted before.
I beg you to stop and notice when your children are making an effort to change. Celebrate their bravery. Celebrate their persistence. Celebrate their growth.
This is when parenting starts to become fun.
If things are so overwhelming you can’t spot the joy, reach out. I’d love to help.