Like all parents, before having kids I had strong opinions about how I was going to approach the whole world of parenting. I took mental notes each time I loved or disliked something, so that by the time I had kids of my own, I’d know exactly what do to.
And like all pre-parents out there, I was sure that my kids would be unique: They would behave, listen, be polite, never nag and would be absolute angels. I thought that if I set out clear parenting objectives, I’d know how to raise my kids who would in turn, know how to behave properly.
It sounded very simple and feasible, and that’s how I willingly joined the parenting world.
Lies. It was all lies.
This line of reasoning (dream world, really) is what all pre-parents fall for so they can eventually reproduce, otherwise our species would have faded centuries ago.
Naturally, after becoming a mom I caught-up rather quickly with reality and realized that these picture perfect kids don’t exist. Normal kids speak out, they have opinions, they like to discover the world and they don’t always never listen to what we ask them to do. That’s how most of my parenting resolutions and approaches have evolved to match with my existing and evolving challenges as a mom – after all, adaptation is another method that has helped our species evolve through the times.
- I survived a royal tantrum and I lived to tell the tale
- What is REALLY going on in your toddler’s mind?
- The day a stranger (almost) had a peek at my breast
- As a mom, do you fear this too?
- Your kids are not special, deal with it!
Today, I’ve learned to adapt to my 2-year-old who wants to wear her sneakers, with a nice dress and a beach hat. I’ve learned that it’s absolutely normal for a child to hate bath time and then to hate getting out of it; that’s after refusing any additional bites of their dinner though they would naturally fight for the sandwich that I’m eating.
Toddlers are paradox incarnated and today I no longer open my parenting resolution notebook as I’ve learned that most of the notes that I took before having kids are useless. To start with, what worked well for other kids does not necessarily mean that it will work well for mine. Besides, there is a fine line between ideas, theories, resolutions and the real world.
So all those idealistic parenting approaches that I had have fallen by the wayside.
All, except for one: How I’ll be communicating with my kids.
I am a strong believer that open, engaging and constant communication with a child from an early age pay back in droves as the years go by, and that with time, the child will willingly agree to cooperate with the requirements of their parents.
The ideal time to start working on this communication is as soon as the child is born. Touching, kissing, cuddling, listening to the needs of that new baby are how this open communication starts. It then evolves with time to adapt to a growing baby, but it never stops. Words, gestures, and the tone of voice start to make more sense to the baby who will know that his parents are listening to what he or she needs and will answer in response, and the baby will in return learn how to copy and adopt these behaviors to let the parents know how he or she feels.
The secret of successful communications with a child lies in a tool that we normally tend to disregard, or take for granted, but that is as powerful as a windmill during a storm: Eye contact!
Each time I talk my 2-year-old, ever since she was born, I focus on her eyes. I talk to her not at her. This has proven to be pretty successful when she hit the tantrum phase and started expressing herself in a “wild” way that I did not expect. While at first it took me by surprise and I doubted my parenting approach, I realized that the more I was talking to her and the more I was looking at her in the eyes, the more she started to cool down and cooperate.
Today, she still has a few tantrums, as this is still a normal method of communication for a 2-year-old who needs to ask for things but doesn’t have the words to do so, or who doesn’t understand the concept of time, distance, and consequence. But she has learned to trust what I tell her. She has also learned that when I look her in the eyes, she knows that I’m listening to her and that I’m doing my best to answer what she needs (whenever possible), or that I’m suggesting another approach to distract her from her unrealistic queries.
She has also learned that if she needs to do something that I don’t approve of, she would first look me in the eyes to get my consent and when she doesn’t get it, she immediately stops.
So after becoming a parent, I’ve learned that you really can’t judge someone before knowing for real what this person is going through. Judging from a distance without giving a solution does not make me the smarter person.
Becoming a parent has not only given me a better perspective of the situation, but it has also granted me the tools to guide other parents: Today, when I see a child having a bad moment, I tell the parents to look at their kids in the eyes when they talk to them, instead of shouting from a distance.
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