A while back I read the parenting book Scream Free Parenting...I checked it out as kind of a joke but then when I started reading it I loved it. I think I really liked it because instead of the typical parenting book that focused on the child...it focused on the parent. It offered strategies to alter my behavior which would ultimately influence my children.
They have a website and you can sign up for daily quick emails that inspire a short quote and then a little thought from the author.
This morning I woke to this one in my inbox:
Each phase that your child goes through is not equally pleasant. The 5 year old who wants to snuggle and read a book with you won’t be acting the same when she’s 15. Your child is supposed to go through rough patches. You are supposed to be able to handle them.
When you find your relationship in a particularly difficult phase, keep in mind that it just might be the exact thing you need to be experiencing. Maybe both of you are supposed to learn something from these difficult times. If we can see each difficulty as an opportunity, we can face just about anything.
-Hal Runkel, LMFT, Author of Scream Free Parenting and Scream Free Marriage
This one hit home. We are struggling with Henry. Maybe it is the change with Charley going off to school. Maybe instead of the terrible twos...he is giving us a run for our money during the year of the three. Maybe it is just a stage that he is going through. But of course, I am all stressed and wondering where I went wrong. What am I doing that is causing him to be out of control at bedtime? Not able to whisper when asked? Why he won't eat his fruit and veggies and demands crunchy snacks? Why he doesn't respond when we all ask him to stay out of Sydney or Charley's space. Why he is up early and won't come downstairs without his brother and then whines and wakes everyone up.
I know it is a power thing. He is exploring. But man, it is pushing my buttons and it is draining. Last night I served cheese tortellini with red sauce. I knew he might hesitate but I figured he would be hungry and eat it. OF course he demanded that he didn't like it and wanted a crunchy snack. Meanwhile, we got to talking about what he played with the neighbors and Charley then pointed out that Henry had eaten 1/2 of his dinner and he must like it. Charley sounded just as excited as I was. Henry denied liking it but then finished as the conversation continued. Then he asked for more. So both Charley and I were happy. But as soon as he noticed this he said he was full. He did have a second helping. But from the whole experience I saw that really, all this is a power thing.
So we are working on listening this week. We are tracking our time today in 15 increments and he decides if he was a good listener or if he had trouble. There is no reward or penalty. I am hoping that I can just make him more aware of the habit he is in. So far it is working.
Ultimately, the message in my in box this morning really helped me feel more relaxed about this stage. For me, it really helps to know that what you are going through with your child is not super special...but rather common and ordinary and unfortunately part of raising a three year old.
What behaviors or stages have you digging deeper in your parenting bag of tricks to stay patient and relaxed in the journey?